Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is not running for the U.S. Senate against Tammy Baldwin. He confirmed this himself nearly two months ago, but that hasn’t stopped a number of people from doing all they can to exploit his political star power for themselves or others.
On the Right there’s a political action committee (PAC) doing all they could to “Draft Clarke” into a U.S. Senate run. That ranged from parties at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. to targeted fund raising emails on nationwide lists. Headed by a North Carolina-based political couple and reality show star “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” the effort has been seen as a “Scam PAC” to most Wisconsin-based political insiders.
“Draft” committees are quite common in American politics. However, they often have nothing to do with candidate in question being drafted and form without the candidate’s knowledge or permission.
On the Left there is Baldwin herself, who since mid-March has been using “the threat” of Clarke as her potential general election opponent as a way to raise money by putting the fear of Clarke into the hearts of her supporters. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice reported it this way:
Baldwin’s campaign sent out an email solicitation that suggests the conservative sheriff is “being groomed” to run against Baldwin in 2018. The note plays up Clarke’s strong ties to President Donald Trump and the sheriff’s December 2015 trip to Russia.
“He’s exactly the type of person President Trump would love to have as an ally in the Senate,” says the email.
“Sheriff Clarke checks all the boxes. He has four shady PACs raising money in an attempt to get him to run. His offensive, stream-of-consciousness tweets are eerily similar to Trump’s. And, wait for it … He has ties to Russia.”
Baldwin’s re-election campaign used the specter of Clarke to raise over $2 million for the first three months of 2017.
Now the Trump administration is considering Clarke for a position as assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnership and Engagement. Wisconsin Democrats, seeing their avenue to use Clarke as a political bogeyman is closing, are now claiming victory for a battle that never actually took place. In a projection-laden press release that fits part of a trend, they ask “Is Sheriff Clarke Backing Down from Challenging Sen. Tammy Baldwin?”
They write in part:
The PAC’s dollars went to promoting Sheriff Clarke with Clarke branded lip balm and bobbleheads in the Sheriff’s likeness at CPAC this year. Along with that, the Sheriff Clarke for Senate committee and another pro-Clarke group, the Committee to Defend the President, both paid for polls to see how the Sheriff would fair in a challenge to Senator Baldwin – both polls showed the Sheriff losing in a head-to-head match up. Currently, the group has a billboard up, on Highway 175 in Milwaukee County, promoting the Sheriff’s stance on immigration.
“Sheriff Clarke has tried everything under the sun to increase his profile. Whether it’s inflammatory statements online, regular appearances on cable news, or traveling the country to speak to conservative groups, Clarke is always looking for an out. It’s too bad for the Republican Party of Wisconsin that his exit strategy appears to involve working in the Trump Administration and not running for U.S. Senate,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Brandon Weathersby said on Monday. “Now, with another top tier candidate being too afraid to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the Republican Party is only left with millionaires and candidates backed by millionaires to potentially run for Senate.”
A little digging uncovers “The Committee to Defend the President” is not a “pro-Clarke group” as state Democrats claim, but a Virginia-based Scam PAC run by Dan Backer. Backer, who turned his prior group “Stop Hillary PAC” into “Defend the President,” has been at the forefront of this highly questionable form of pseudo-activism for years. Clarke, whether he likes it or not, is just the latest public figure being used as bait to ensnare unsuspecting people out of their money.
So the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is claiming victory in a race that was never going to happen