Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Tale of Tommy and Tammy

One is an unabashed progressive/liberal, openly and proudly gay, a Madison hometown woman who’s been in Washington since 1999 with huge name recognition in……Dane County.  The other is a small-town boy from the tiny hamlet of Elroy, arguably the most popular Governor in the state’s history, a moderate Republican who has a track record of working with people from the other side of the aisle, likes mass transit, is an inveterate cheerleader for Wisconsin, and has huge name recognition in every county, corner, nook and cranny in the state.

Both want Herb Kohl’s seat in the United States Senate.

Even lefty former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz likes Tommy.  In a recent column/blog for Isthmus, Cieslewicz talked about how he’d reached out to Tommy for help trying to save the federal train money. Dave says Tommy obviously worked hard to try and help, but we all know how that story ended.  And there’s no doubt Dave will cast his ballot for Tammy, not Tommy.

In this day and age, it’s more than surprising that a hard-core lefty like former Mayor Dave would reach out to a Republican politician for help in accomplishing a task; and even more remarkable that a lifelong Republican would even take such a call, say nothing about actually working with a member of the “opposition” for what they both perceived as a project for the common good.

I’ve interviewed Tammy countless times in person and on the phone; while she can come off as somewhat of a Pollyanna, and often avoids hard questions and attempts to redirect the conversation, I have no doubt that Ms. Baldwin is a true, honest, and loyal public servant of her constituency, and that she really does act most often in the best interests of the people she represents.  Tammy often had a staff person with her when she appeared on Sly’s morning radio program, but Tammy took Sly’s (and my) questions and responded without conferring with the staff person; she took live calls from listeners and gave off-the-cuff responses.  She knew her stuff and you would be hard-pressed to stump her.

I’ve interviewed Tommy countless times during his long tenure as Governor.  Here’s an in-studio photo from 1989, from the former (multi-award-winning) radio show (Madison’s Morning News) my wife (who wasn’t yet my wife then) and I did, with Governor Thompson holding forth as “Guest Editor” – a role which allowed him to make unfettered, unfiltered, and uncensored comments on anything Toni or I would say, including the privilege of actually interrupting us during a scheduled newscast to make an observation.  No staff; no handlers; no spin doctors ever accompanied Tommy during his visits to our show.  His driver, a State Patrol officer, would sit in the producer’s booth sipping coffee.  Tommy took plenty of live calls from our listeners, and he answered every question head-on, no dodging.

I’m not going to mention Mark Neumann or the Fitzgerald boy or anybody else who might be interested in Herb Kohl’s seat.  I think it’s going to be Tommy and Tammy.  And if so, Wisconsin has a very interesting choice to make about which one to put in that Senate seat.

But I’ll tell you this: either one, Tammy or Tommy, is a hell of a lot better choice than that fellow from Oshkosh who has our state’s other U.S. Senate seat.

(The side-by-side photo at the top of this post is stolen from Isthmus.)


  1. Someone who is AWAKE will be an improvement on Herbie Kohl.

  2. Holy smokes . . . I actually agree with Dad on something.

  3. However, Kohl asleep beats RJ awake. We need two.