At this point, nearly everyone expects 2010 to be a big Republican year at the ballot box.  The real challenge for the GOP is to temper their enthusiasm and not go completely overboard in predicting landslide wins across the board.

But it seems a lot of Democrats are bracing for a big Republican year as well – and legislating as such.  As the Wisconsin legislative session nears an end, a few curious Democrat-authored bills have been cropping up that appear to be laying the groundwork for a Republican gubernatorial administration.

Take, for instance, a new bill that would give the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance a four-year term.  Currently, the Insurance Commissioner (Sean Dilweg, a really nice guy, incidentally) serves at the pleasure of the Governor.  This new bill would take that appointment power out of the governor’s hands for at least four years.

There’s really no reason to do this other than to lock in Governor Doyle’s cabinet appointees while a Scott Walker or Mark Neumann administration takes over.  If bills like this were to become law, a Governor Walker wouldn’t be able to appoint his own people to cabinet positions – he’d have to wait until their 4-year term was over.  Basically, the ghost of Jim Doyle would live to haunt Walker during his first term.

Then there’s this proposed constitutional change, which would weaken the governor’s vetoing authority.  Just two years ago, Wisconsin outlawed the so-called “Frankenstein Veto,” which allowed governors to stitch together sentences to create completely new laws.  (Full disclosure: I actually drafted the original resolution when I worked in the State Senate.)  At the time, there was no desire to go any further than the change we proposed – Democrats certainly would have blocked any move to further limit Jim Doyle’s veto authority.

But now, with a Republican administration seeming more likely, Democrats are willing to propose more stringent restrictions on the governor’s veto pen – something they refused to do in 2005, when Doyle was still popular.

These attempts to hamstring Scott Walker couldn’t be more obvious if they put a picture of him on the bills.  They should just go all the way and make them applicable “to any governor who used to be Milwaukee County Executive and whose name rhymes with stalker.”

It’s interesting, though, why Democrats would even propose these measures so close to an election.  If a dope like me can figure out that they’re nakedly partisan, then anyone can.  And it just makes them seem that they don’t have any faith in their candidate (rhymes with “carrot”) – so much so, that they’re pushing all their chips in to cripple an inevitable Walker administration.  Not exactly the shot of confidence the Mayor of Milwaukee needs.