Wishful thinking and the elections

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Hope in short supply for Democrats, and citizens who prefer competition.

AFTER MONTHS OF FIRST one relatively well known Democrat and then another flirting with and then turning away from a 2018 race to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker, an individual with statewide name recognition could be getting ready to run.

Tony Evers, state superintendent at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, says he has been asked to run by "a lot of people" and he is seriously considering the race.

Evers has solid identification, having won three statewide elections for superintendent. The position is, officially, nonpartisan. In reality, Democrats always put up their candidate - that's Evers - and Republicans do the same. Republicans have tried hard to beat Evers - this past April with former Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz as their candidate - but no one has been able to do so. Against Holtz, Evers captured 70 percent of the statewide vote.

SOUNDS PROMISING FOR Democrats and like it ought to set off alarm bells at Walker headquarters, right?

Not exactly.

Evers has been a good state superintendent - we've endorsed him in the past - but running DPI is a long shot from running the state. Most education matters are settled by the legislature and the governor, not the superintendent. State education budgeting is done by legislators and approved by the governor. On the other end, local school boards across Wisconsin set policies and procedures in the classrooms, where it matters most. The state superintendent and DPI function more as facilitators, with a bully pulpit mixed in to press decision-makers in Madison on certain issues.

Not that the politicians listen.

Evers has been at odds with Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature ever since the 2010 elections. We're not sure of the score on the card, but it must be somewhere in the range of Republicans 250, Evers 0.

IRONICALLY, WALKER'S proposed biennial budget adds in extra money for schools sought by Evers. But don't give Evers the credit for that. Savvy political observers know exactly why the budget on the table now is more generous toward public schools. An election is coming in 2018 and polls suggest a strong majority in Wisconsin believe it's time to put more money into K-12 public education.

And Walker can read polls.

Aside from education, Evers has very little experience that would be pertinent to the governor's office.

Also, with all due respect, he's 65 years old, a bit long in the tooth for on-the-job training as a newcomer to most facets of government.

Yes, yes, we do know. Donald Trump was 70 when he was inaugurated.

Need we say more?

BY THE WAY, this is not intended as some ringing endorsement for Scott Walker. He's done some things right and some things wrong. We've been reporting all that going into the eighth year. Assuming Walker does seek a third term - perhaps the worst-kept secret in Wisconsin - there will be plenty of time to assess whether that's a good or bad idea for the state.

For now, it's enough to observe the flailing about of Wisconsin Democrats in a feeble effort to reclaim political competitiveness. Their bench is nearly empty, populated only by a handful of reluctant warriors and a herd of unknowns. That's a far cry from the generation that produced people like Jim Doyle, Tony Earl, Martin Schreiber, Russ Feingold, Les Aspin, Tim Cullen and others. Democrats are struggling to fill ballot spots with candidates who might at least have a puncher's chance, and that's bad for Wisconsin.

In our view, one-party government - Republican or Democrat - promotes danger for the people, because it creates a sense of invincibility among people who crave power. The people are better served by competitive races. Right now, that's wishful thinking.

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