During my journalistic/political career that will span 44 years as of this May the most serious pain that has bothered me the most is when people have not been totally truthful with me.
A case in point: the current race for governor in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Conservative Digest (WCD) is hosting a program on March 17 at Clifford’s in Hales Corners and gubernatorial candidate Kevin Nicholson is one of the featured speakers. The WCD supports Nicholson. I’m backing Rebecca Kleefisch.
I’ve known the 1988 founder of WCD Bob Dohnal for many, many years. He has spent the overwhelming majority of his lifetime working tirelessly for Republican causes. That’s not in dispute and that’s not what this is about.
Knowing there have been sparks between Nicholson and Kleefisch as of late I casually asked Dohnal this week if Kleefisch had been invited to WCD’s March 17th event, and if not, why not?
When the day passed without a response I inquired again (today). This is pretty simple stuff, not exactly rocket science.
Dohnal curtly answered:
“She has never invited us to any of hers.”
When I wrote back stating, “So, the answer is no,” Dohnal got terse again.
“She gets an invite to every one.”
I’ve never had a single issue with Dohnal, and so I found his unnecessary testiness surprising.
OK. Kleefisch gets invited to every WCD event. True? I poked around. Alex Walker, Scott Walker’s son and political director for the Kleefisch campaign sent me this correspondence:
“The answer is no, Rebecca has not been invited to these events for a very long time. Despite that, she has made an effort to attend like she did at the Chicken Burn and their most recent event this year.”
Here’s Kleefisch at Dohnal’s extremely popular Chicken Burn last August (photo: Journal Sentinel), also attended by Nicholson.
While preparing this post I received an unsolicited Dohnal e-mail that copied Alex Walker:
“You guys are experts why don’t you run some events? I work these and pay fro them. Do not see one dime ever coming from that gang..” So who do I believe? Yes, I’ve known Dohnal for decades and continue to follow and correspond with him. But I’ve actually been closer to Kleefisch, having worked for and with her for all but two months of Gov. Walker’s administration. I submit the Kleefisch campaign is being forthright whereas Dohnal is inexplicably being evasive over a matter that’s not all that earth-shattering.
All Dohnal had to do was politely, respectfully answer a simple question. No we didn’t invite her and here’s why. He chose not to. The fact is his candidate who would make a fine governor has hurt the GOP’s chances of unity between now and the August primary, and quite possibly beyond.
Finally, last August I had the honor of serving as the emcee for an event in Cudahy sponsored by the Milwaukee County Republican Party. Both Kleefisch and Nicholson were invited to speak and bother were excellent.
The WCD’s March 17th shutout of Kleefisch (and they can certainly refuse an invitation to anyone if they please) is petty and personal, but also extremely foolish.
Can you imagine if Kleefisch was asked to appear and agreed? The WCD would have been turning people away at the doors. Would have been a helluva program. Dohnal says I’m an expert, so I ought to know.