Back in August, we profiled Dan Mielke, who is running against Sean Duffy for the Republican nomination to take on long-time Democratic Congressman Dave Obey in 2010. When we last left Mielke, he was discussing his qualifications for office:
Mr. Duffy is “more of a polished, celebrity-style politician,” Mr. Mielke said. “I’ve got a beard, and I’ve worked my whole life.”
With the issue of whether Mielke has a beard being settled, he’s now moved on to what he believes to be the “smoking gun” that’s going to take Duffy down: the issue of gay marriage. Over the weekend, Mielke posted the following video (unironically titled “Sean Duffy Exposed), which purports to be “evidence” that Duffy supports gays settlin’ down:
UPDATE: The original video was removed from YouTube for copyright infringement, as it included video from the original movie. It has been replaced by this interesting Mielke campaign video, in which he describes the scenes himself:
Now you may watch that and say, “that just looks like a guy being supportive of one of his gay friends.” And I think you’d be right. It seems to be a stretch to expect people to watch that video and come away with the impression that Duffy is somehow the Adam Lambert of Wisconsin politics.
In fact, Mielke may be accomplishing the opposite of his intention with this video. He might actually be strengthening Duffy’s position in the general election. (And make no mistake, Duffy is going to win this primary – despite being beardless.)
First of all, it seems that public opinion is going to eventually shift over to being in favor of some sort of legal recognition of same-sex unions. A recent WPRI poll found:
“42% of people 18 to 35 favored legalizing gay marriage, compared to 24% of 36-to-64-year-olds and 15% of those 65 and older. Civil unions, but not marriage, were favored by 29% in the younger group, 33% in the middle group and 34% in the older group. But 40% of the older group opposed either possibility, compared to 36% of 36-to-64-year-olds and just 28% of adults 35 and younger.”
As the older voters move on and younger voters show up more reliably at the polls, it seems likely that policies will eventually change at is applies to gay marriage.
But even beyond that – Mielke’s message is essentially “Sean Duffy is fair and open-minded.” And that’s the kind of endorsement that Duffy couldn’t pay enough money for in the general election. It’s almost as if Mielke is on his payroll. Maybe Mielke’s next move is to accuse Duffy of being too critical of the failed stimulus plan – or to hammer Duffy for being opposed to higher taxes. (In a bizarre section of his website, Mielke actually does criticize Duffy’s position on abortion. Apparently, properly recognizing that Congress can’t just pass a bill making abortion illegal makes Duffy a “RINO.”)
I’ve always thought that this is the next step in competitive campaigns – getting paper candidates to run for office that make the frontrunner look better. If you’re running a serious campaign, why not pay some guy to run against you and serve as your foil? It would actually be good practice for Congress, where Representatives spend all night in an empty chamber having fake “debates” with each other for the benefit of the C-Span cameras. (These usually involve two members of the same party asking each other questions like “Congressman, how is it possible that you can be so insightful about health care?”)
On a final note, I think it’s pretty classless that Mielke would use clips of Duffy’s wife to attack Duffy. That is all.