Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hard Concession

It was a long wait for what was supposed to be a victory party on Fond du Lac's North Main Street. Incumbent Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager waited out the results up the street at the Ramada Plaza Hotel as a contingent of reporters from across the state gathered at Theo's where she would make an announcement.

As Tuesday night stretched into Wednesday morning Lautenschlager's opponent in the Democratic Party Kathleen Falk was slowly building an insurmountable lead. In the end Falk got 53 percent of the vote across the state. When I first arrived for some reason I figured I'd be there to hear Lautenschlager give a victory speech, but as time wore on it became obvious that the gathering was going to be hearing. a concession speech.

While awaiting the announcement there was plenty of time to kill. I had a couple of diet sodas, sat at the bar and scratched down some notes on other election results, but I also had time to talk with other media representatives and do a little eavesdropping.

One radio reporter from Madison gave me her view on Falk, it wasn't very flattering. Other reporters were relieved to see Paul Bucher lose in the Republican primary to J.B. Van Hollen. Watching TV reporters do stand up reports saying they were still waiting for an announcement was interesting. One reporter made sure her lips were just right and checked herself out in a compact mirror. That's the nice thing about radio. Everybody is beautiful in the mind's eye.

One conversation between two men was hard not to hear. They were standing a few feet away from me. One of the men must have been a lawyer. He made a crack about how people who serve on juries are too stupid to get out of jury duty. I have friends who are lawyers and I respect what they do, but having had to sit in on a number of court proceedings over the years I'm sometimes amazed how some people pass the bar.

Speaking of bars, the staff at Theo's did a wonderful job with the press. It's hard to bus tables when you're dodging cameras, lights, microphone cords and the other equipment that comes with a full-blown media event.

Finally Lautenschlager arrived flanked by family and friends. She and some supporters shed a few tears as her campaign came to a conclusion. Afterwards she answered a few questions and not surprisingly the first one was whether her drunk driving arrest in Dodge County more than two years ago was her undoing. She handled it graciously enough, but noted there'd been other state officials arrested for similar circumstances who survived reelection campaigns.

There is a little truth to that. Governor Jim Doyle distanced himself from Lautenschlager shortly after her drunk driving conviction and has been an active Kathleen Falk supporter. Everything is fair game in politics and the drunk driving thing was an easy target for the others running for Attorney General. One person commented to me before I left, "Isn't it interesting how the two remaining candidates in the race have the least prosecutorial experience?"

It's going to be fun watching what skeletons J.B. Van Hollen and Kathleen Falk can find in each other's closets. Let the bloodletting begin!