DeBruin’s Divisive Strategy Backfiring

Milwaukee County Supervisor Lynne DeBruin wanted voters to think that her only challenger, Dan Cody, was some out-of-touch lefty and she was a sensible moderate. As such, she attempted to position herself as just to the right of Cody, figuring that she would pick up all moderates and all conservatives. In a two-person race, that would have been a savvy strategy, but DeBruin is now facing a nightmare scenario. debruin.jpg

While Cody has democratic voters in his sights, her newest opponent, Dan Wycklendt is happy to snarf up Republican votes. With DeBruin staking out a position in the center, there are likely to be few reasons for voters to support her. After all, with virtually no chance of grabbing votes from Republican voters with Wycklendt in the race, DeBruin now has to scramble to pull votes away from Cody. Without voters who typically vote for Democrats, DeBruin may not even make it out of the primary. DeBruin is going to have to do a pretty creative dance if she is to buffalo constituents into thinking she has been a hands-on Supervisor, especially considering the fact that she has had a chance to make changes, but has instead chosen to treat the job as a part-time gig funded by the taxpayer. Cody, on the other hand, pledges to be a hands-on Supervisor.

The interesting thing is that the district voters trend Democratic by a margin of two to one so it is a longshot that Wycklendt could win a general. That being said, he will likely have a lock on one third of the voters, assuring him of making it through the primary (if he puts in the work). He would have to position himself as a moderate to certain wards in the district if he would hope to make it though the general. That leaves Cody and DeBruin to fight it out for a majority of the two thirds of the primary voters who would find Wycklendt's Republican philosophies contrary to their own.

Conventional wisdom would have thought DeBruin, once an avowed Democrat, would have a lock on that two thirds.

Not so.

DeBruin has embraced many of the ideals of Republican operative and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. She has sided with Walker on many issues which run contrary to the philosophy of a majority of her district. DeBruin also dumped her membership in the Democratic Party when Walker's Republican revolution shook Milwaukee County. Knowing that the political will of the populace is sometimes cyclical and knowing that she may face an opponent in her upcoming election, DeBruin rejoined the party in 2007 -- a move that smacks of political desperation. Had she not turned her back on the Democratic party when she believed it might be advantageous for her, she would not seem so self-serving.

Cody has been a member of the Democratic party for years.

Recently, Republican talk radio show host Mark Belling announced that DeBruin was not running. She called into the show to proclaim that she was, in fact, running and she added that her opponent, Dan Cody is running against her because she is "too supportive of Scott Walker".

It's worthwhile here to note that Walker's base is in the suburbs while the majority of the district DeBruin represents is in the city of Milwaukee which has suffered a tremendous loss of services under the Walker regime. By tying herself to Republican Walker on a talk show with a Republican advocate, DeBruin told her primarily Democratic district that they were not her priority.

On his radio show, Belling went on to ask what opponent she was referring to. DeBruin responds, "Dan Cody -- he's being endorsed by AFSCME..." which was an attempt to take a slap at unions which DeBruin must have figured would win her points from Belling listeners. There's a problem with that -- not all of Belling's listeners are Republicans who hate unions. Belling may bash unions and it may make some of the Republicans on Belling's show happy to hear her take a shot at unions, but DeBruin fails to understand that with today's technology, everyone can hear what she had to say if they happen to get ahold of a recording of the show.


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