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How would you handicap the Democrat’s 2018 gubernatorial contenders?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

Welcome to "Political Posturing," featuring opposing views on current issues important to Wisconsin's business community. In this column, Wisconsin Business Alliance Board President Brad Werntz and conservative columnist David Blaska offer their opinions from the left and the right, respectively.

Not good — the Dems need an Anti-Establishment disrupter.

By Brad Werntz

Last Nov. 9, I swore off calling elections ever again. In retrospect, this wasn’t an abrupt decision. Along with most everyone else, I’ve been wrong three out of four election days since 2010. It seems that accurate political prognostication just isn’t possible with such a disrupted electorate.

Voters are angry, they’re scared, and they’re reacting to things that they may or may not understand. This doesn’t make them dumb, but it does make them more easily manipulated. From a marketing perspective, it’s far easier to engage someone’s gut instinct than to get them to think.

And so recent elections have not been about Republican versus Democrat, or Right versus Left. Rather, they’ve been about Establishment versus Anti-Establishment. Voters are looking for disruptors. This is why Bernie Bros jumped directly onto the Trump Train. They weren’t listening to what either candidate said, they just wanted to vote for someone who gave them that gut-punched feeling.

So in Wisconsin, we have a governor who is about as Establishment as they come. Except for only about six months of his career, he’s been an elected official for his entire life. Yet somehow he’s packaged himself as a bold, conservative reformer even as he’s been cutting and pasting decades-old ALEC boilerplate legislation into the Wisconsin law books.

Here’s the deal: Two smart and engaging Establishment Dems weren’t able to defeat milquetoast Walker because: 1) Dems keep thinking that elections are about ideas; and 2) Dems believe that Establishment candidates do a better job championing their ideas.

Everyone on the Dem bench right now is an Establishment player: Tony Evers, Kathleen Vinehout, Dana Wachs, Andy Gronik, Mike McCabe, Bob Harlow, and (maybe) Paul Soglin. Nothing against any one of them, but if that’s all we got, we can save time and money by pre-printing posters with “Vote for Pablum” on them.

It’s a sad day when pablum can’t defeat milquetoast, but that’s where we are. If Dems keep coming to the table with the same stuff, we’re going to get splattered. Again.

Brad Werntz is a small business owner in Madison.

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