Joining at least 10,000 people at the State Capitol on April 15 for the Tea Party, it was the first time I ever joined a protest rally at the seat of a state government. The rally for Taxed Enough Already was a time to see who was there and to hear from speakers.
I took public transportation from the Hill Farms Transportation Building to the rally because I knew driving and parking would be awful. Just as I arrived, I ran into Wisconsin legislative staff members and Mrs. Dave Ross. I saw Terence Wall, Mark Neumann, Senator Scott Fitzgerald and Representative Scott Gunderson. I saw the Scott Walker presence but I did not see Walker.
When I was in state government, such protests were a nuisance and not important. In Lansing, protests by organized labor and the tent city protest against Governor John Engler were annoying and made it hard to get to work and leave. The only rally I attended at the State Capitol was Kris Draper, Darren McCarty and the Stanley Cup. In Madison, both loud and weird were the protest by illegal aliens and the counter-protest by skinheads.
Frankly, I was astounded by some speakers, not what they said but who they were and how they said it. Two speakers were WSAU-AM radio talker Patrick Snyder and Pastor David King, the Milwaukee pastor who is running for Wisconsin Secretary of State. When I was a kid in central Wisconsin, television came from WSAU and WAOW in Wausau but no one I knew listened to WSAU-AM instead of the hipper Wausau station WIFC-FM.
I actually came to see and hear Tommy G. Thompson. Thompson has been known to me since I ran for U.S. Congress in 1984, when he was Assembly Minority Leader. I moved to Michigan and began serving John Engler in 1985. Tommy was elected Governor of Wisconsin in 1986 and John Engler was elected Governor of Michigan in 1990. They were both reformers. I have been at events with Thompson since 2006 and I was at the rally when he announced for President at the Tommy G. Thompson athletic center at Bishop Messmer High School in Milwaukee.
I think most of us thought that he would announce a run for U.S. Senate, especially because all the points about U.S. Senator Russ Feingold ended with, “It’s wrong for America. It’s wrong for Wisconsin.” It was a barn-burner of a Tommy speech. Thompson was always a better speaker than Engler, no offense to my friends who wrote for Engler. Thanks to some of us, Engler was better than Thompson in writing.
Flash forward to 2010. New anger over unemployment, taxes and deficits might bring new voters to Republicans in autumn or it might not. Democrats who dominate the Wisconsin state legislature do not seem to get it, pressing to raise taxes, energy bills and find new avenues of voter fraud. It is wrong for Wisconsin.
Mark Neumann might be a good Governor of Wisconsin. Scott Walker will win the primary if Neumann fights it all the way to September. It will not be fun to run state government in 2011 with the structural deficit we face.