Wisconsin State Senate President Mike Ellis (R-Can't Keep My Mouth Shut) who was recently caught discussing funneling money into a PAC to attack his Democratic opponent (illegal coordination) has abruptly dropped out of his re-election bid. It's not the first time he's been caught on video or audio inappropriately shooting his mouth off, but this one has "stuck".
The decision by the Neenah Republican ends a political career spanning four decades and leaves Democratic state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton as the only announced candidate in the race. Gov. Scott Walker was just three years old when Ellis won election to the Legislature nearly 44 years ago.His undoing might have had more to do with a comment made on the tape about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-Koch Brothers) when he said "Walker is for Walker". Among Republicans in Wisconsin, Scott Walker is considered to be a god.
"The world has changed and to be honest with you I just don't fit in there anymore. I grew up where you could be an independent thinker and still work out compromises," Ellis said in an interview with Charlie Sykes on WTMJ-AM (620).The video was made in a bar near the State Capitol and Ellis had clearly been drinking heavily. Previous tape of him making awful remarks have also come from taverns.
Ellis was elected to the Assembly in 1970 and made the jump to the Senate in 1982, facing little opposition at the ballot box in recent years. In Schaber, Ellis faced his first opponent in 16 years and he did so as conservatives hinted privately at challenges to him in the GOP primary.
With his usual bluntness, Ellis told Sykes that the recording looked "terrible, absolutely."
Of course, Republicans, like vultures, are rapidly lining up to take his seat in November.
So far, insiders at the Capitol have spoken of former Assembly Republicans as potential candidates to replace Ellis.These guys aren't waiting until the dust settles to claw their way up the political ladder.
Roger Roth, a former Assembly member and congressional candidate from Appleton, hasn't responded to requests for comment from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday and Friday.
Another former GOP representative, Steve Wieckert of Appleton, said he was still absorbing Ellis' surprise announcement and would weigh a run. He said he enjoyed public service and saw himself as a consensus builder, but was leaning against a run because of projects that are underway with his real estate business.
The Ellis incident had another interesting revelation, this one concerning newly announced Congressional candidate and wacky Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman (the Louis Gomert of Wisconsin) who is planning to carpet bag himself into Tom Petris (R-Wis) Congressional district and primary him from the right.
Also Friday, Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) confirmed to the Wisconsin State Journal that he was present at the Inn on the Park with Ellis on the night that Ellis discussed illegally coordinating between his campaign and a political action committee.
But Grothman told the State Journal — as well as the Journal Sentinel in a later interview — he doesn't remember the night in question or Ellis' comments and that he might not have been present at the point Ellis discussed the illegal campaign tactic.
In the Journal Sentinel interview, Grothman called Ellis' comments "outrageous" but said he was bothered by people pretending to befriend someone so they could secretly record them. He said he wanted to know who put Project Veritas up to seeking Ellis out to record him.When the King of Outrageous Comments calls Ellis' comments "outrageous", that's really saying something.
"It's kind of a new world, isn't it?" Grothman said. "And a scary world."
It's getting curioser and curioser as Republicans in Wisconsin just can't keep themselves out of the public eye with their bad behavior. But I'll bet State Senator Bill Kramer (R-I Can't Stop Groping Women) is glad that Ellis is taking reporters eyeballs off of him and his recent indictment.
The Friday News Dump is starting early.