Capital Briefs

Sheriff’s race a big win for First, Second amendments

This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.

MADISON, Wis. — Tuesday night in Milwaukee County saw a huge victory for the First and Second amendments, and a stunning defeat of the left’s big money dump and its hypocritical “dark money” mantra.

Milwaukee County conservative Sheriff David Clarke’s defeat (52-48 percent) ofMilwaukee Police Lt. Chris Moews in Tuesday’s primary election was a blow to liberals, particularly former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s gun-control Independence USA super PAC dropped $150,000 into the race on a TV ad campaign attacking the Democrat Clarke’s controversial pro-gun positions. Bloomberg’s political action committee, which has said it will spend $50 million on anti-gun politics in 2014, outspent the Clarke and Moews campaigns combined.

Moews, who had hoped some 6,000 uncounted absentee ballots would turn the tide, conceded defeat Wednesday morning in an email.

“The voters have spoken, and I accept the results,” Moews said in a statement. “With twice as many voters in this election than four years ago, there’s a brighter spotlight shining on the work of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.”

That may be the understatement of the election.
Moews got a lot of help from left-leaning special interest groups that wanted to see Clarke go down in flames. By some accounts, Moews backers outspent Clarke and his supporters by a conservative 6-to-1 margin. Many expect, when the campaign cash is all counted, the gulf will be wider.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee, a liberal supermarket of campaign funding and organization that played a big-money role in the left’s failed 2012 recall campaign against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, dumped at least $400,000 on attack ads targeting Clarke.

Tuesday’s victory all but assures Clarke of re-election. There is no Republican running in the November general election.

Chris Cox, executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, congratulated Clarke on his “hard fought victory” in Tuesday’s Democratic Party primary.

“Sheriff Clarke deserves the credit for his victory. He worked hard and he stood on his principles and the voters responded,” Cox told Watchdog Wednesday. “The truth is Michael Bloomberg came in in the 11th hour trying to buy a sheriff’s seat and headlines, but there was just one problem: Voters weren’t buying his agenda.

“What this shows is one individual with billions of dollars can’t purchase freedom in this country,” Cox said. “I applaud NRA supporters in Milwaukee County for sending that message to Michael Bloomberg that freedom is not for sale.”

That idea — that people vote, not money — also is strong counter argument to the left’s obviously hypocritical narrative that big, outside “dark” money is thwarting representative democracy. Left-bending organizations like the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy have long pitched their “dark money” conspiracy about conservative big spenders such as David and Charles Koch, even as the Center for Responsive Politics reports that liberal organizations have accounted for 40 percent of spending by groups that do not disclose their donors in this election cycle.

“They are quite hypocritical,” said campaign and elections expert Hans von Spakovsky.“The folks on the left are always complaining about too much money in politics, but when they have a candidate or an election they want to win they pour huge amounts of money into it.”

Von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and former member of the Federal Election Commission, said he always reminds people who complain about individuals trying to buy an election that those politicos only  have one vote just like their fellow voters. He pointed to a Washington Post piece last month headlined, “Attention rich people: You still can’t buy elected office (for yourself).”

The story notes that in 2012, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads spent nearly $104 million during the general election.

Sunlight Foundation found that 1.3 percent of that money went toward the result the super PAC was betting on,” the Post noted.

In Milwaukee County, the left’s big money machines attacked Clarke for his public service announcement calling on Milwaukee County citizens to lawfully protect themselves.

His 2013 radio ad created a firestorm of national controversy amid budget troubles and political battles Clarke had with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

“I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal: Your safety. It’s no a longer a spectator sport,” Clarke said in the advertisement. “I need you in the game. But are you ready? With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed or you can fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling of firearms, so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?”

The NRA’s Cox said the left spent a lot of time and money criticizing the outspoken sheriff for being honest.

“Self-defense is a basic human right,” he said, asserting that message resonated in a county where violence in Milwaukee’s inner city has become all too common. “Elected officials put their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don’t get to pick and choose, or at least they shouldn’t.”

Cox said Clarke’s victory will resonate nationally in the battle to uphold Second Amendment rights.

“It shows that the hearts and minds of the American people can’t be bought by a billionaire with a radical agenda,” he said. “Average American don’t want to be told what they can eat and drink and whether they can own a gun by some elitist billionaire.”

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