Jul 19, 2012

Truth about Pocan-Roys Race for Congress

Update: John Nichols: If Kelda Roys' campaign were a vehicle after an accident, it would be considered “totaled” (AUDIO).

"Roys ad was so absurd -- suggesting that Pocan, the Legislature's most consistent critic of corporate abuses, had somehow turned into a corporate stooge -- that it provoked an immediate response from one of her most prominent supporters." (Capital Times editorial. July 26, 2012)

State Rep rescinds endorsement of Kelda Roys over her negative and false ad. (Captial Times column. July 25, 2012)

A brief preface: Doing a short state assembly race profile can be a tough proposition for a writer in a daily newspaper. Did such a piece for the Cap Times (Nov. 1, 1990) (Dave Travis-Donald E. Damon) and crafting a balanced summary in this perceived blow-out (which ended up being a close race that the GOP could have won) was much more difficult, no matter the piece in question is decidedly mediocre.

Wisconsin's congressional districts
Mention the work involved because a good journalist, Clay Barbour, wrote a front-page, Wisconsin State Journal piece yesterday profiling the Mark Pocan-Kelda Roys democratic primary for the second congressional district (forgot the other two minor candidates) in his 1,100-word treatment.

I have a quarrel with Barbour's profile, and the copy editor's hard copy headline reading "Candidates differ in approach, experience," and the Net's head reading, "Dem primary to replace Rep. Baldwin gets nasty."

Roys' Attacks

The race has been relentlessly negative because it has been waged so by Roys; and no global-level, neutral-to-facts view of the race accurately describes the getting-nasty nature or any other major aspects of the race.

Roys has been and is on the attack against Pocan.

As an analogy, one does not describe a violent assault by one person against another as a "nasty" situation. No, it is truthfully and accurately described as an attack.

But in the conventions of journalism, truth loses out to the strange, almost nihilistic manner of reporting phenomena—the subject(s), topic of a story.

Roys' continuous attacks should be the story line repeated in accurate, thorough coverage of this race.

And her star is not "rising" as the front page picture's cut line asserts. Democratic politicos to whom I have spoken most often describe Roys as "strange," and if a trajectory can be discerned, Roys' star is falling.

That's the story of the horse race, but Barbour buried this in the last three paragraphs and even this text is vague.

Writes Barbour, "But some party advocates say (Roys) must tread lightly. It's one thing to fight hard during a campaign. The problem comes when the jabs cross the line."

Some party advocates? Roys is roundly condemned in the colorful lexicon of

Barbour's attempt at balance conflicts with offering readers a truthful and accurate report of what is happening in this race.

Party advocates, speaking off the record, see a candidate in Roys who foolishly just blew a political career by an ego-driven spasm of self reverence.

Roys' TV Spots

Roys's first-person TV spots border on the incoherent and bizarre. That's another story of this race. Who writes these scripts?

Almost messianic in tone, take a listen: "Leader ... who helped build a movement."

"This is my fight, too," intones Roys in another spot.

Yes, I don't believe the viewer requires being disabused of the notion that Roys is above being hurt by the governor. Even you, Ms. Roys.
I think Roys misses the lesson of 2011: The people led, and the elected servants followed.


  1. Nicely done. This is as good a writeup as I've read.

    You're absolutely right about Kelda being a "rising star" in the Democratic Party. After this race, she'll be lucky to work her way into a leadership position in the Democratic caucus.

  2. I think Roys will return to the non-profit sector after this race. She's giving up her Assembly seat to run for Congress, and she has burned all of her bridges with the Democratic Party. I live in her district, and I have seen Pocan yard signs in my neighborhood, but not a single Roys sign.