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Meet The New Boss…Same As The Old Boss?

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have the job of NFL Commissioner. Yes, you are essentially the CEO of football, making LOTS of money ($200 million dollars over five years?!) And yes, it’s a sweet deal on paper and he gets to go to the Super Bowl every year, but unlike other CEOs, who sit at the top of the pile, make major decisions, and answer to virtually no one, Roger Goddell must report to, entertain, and placate 32 billionaires. Billionaires who, if their coffee order ruins their day, have this man on speed dial and can take it out on him. Not to mention managers, agents, players (to a point), and the sports media.

It seems like a similar situation the new Chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, Brian Schimming, finds himself in.

Schimming, who took over the role in December (the former chairman jumped the sinking ship and didn’t seek a second term), is seen as a fresh and exciting choice. The long-time political operative and radio talk show host has such a pedigree. This is due in part to his association with former Governor and Republican giant Tommy Thompson. The Cap Times wrote an editorial saying “He has a reputation as a knowledgeable and engaged political figure who enjoys honest debate.” 

The editorial goes on to say “Schimming is a product of the Thompson-era Republican Party, which at its best erred on the side of positive appeals, as opposed to the cutthroat strategies that have tended to characterize recent Republican campaigns.”

So, if we’re thinking in terms of the NFL, “Let’s get Bart Starr to run this whole thing because he knows victory!!”. After the 2022 Midterm Elections and the non-existent “Red Wave”, Republicans are left licking their wounds. All of them asking the same question, “Where did we go wrong?”… Enter Brian Schimming.

In a Journal Sentinal article, Schimming made it seem like this would be a new era for Republican politics in Wisconsin, saying “Everything is on the table.” From increased fundraising to embracing early voting, no cow was too sacred. And to me, that’s a bold statement (See former President Trump’s Easter post on Truth Social) to make for a group of people holding onto a strategy of extreme divide and absolute conquer. I don’t call myself a cynic, but I am skeptical when any politician, pundit, or operative speaks on “How to connect with the voters”. It’s as if they’re almost always doing it while looking down at us. 

So now that I’ve laid down some comparisons to football, here’s another one: You are Brian Schimming, you’ve moved into your office, recorded your voicemail greeting, and taped “Believe” above your office door and all the calls begin.

Calls from local leaders telling you what you need to do to ensure success. Calls from state leaders who want to have lunch, so they can tell you what you need to do to ensure success. And calls from national leaders who want to say “congrats!” and then tell how to ensure success. It has to be mind-boggling. I can’t imagine they’re all the same conversation, not to mention, you have your own thoughts on how to make Wisconsin a GOP stronghold. And you have to take these calls, listen to them and try to incorporate all this “advice” into your plan.

So how has he done it thus far? Well, just like the NFL over the past 5 years, the Wisconsin GOP looks to have done some minor paint jobs to the same old foundation. You need not look any further than the Twitter accounts of Mr. Schimming and the Wisconsin GOP. Brian was quite active on Twitter during the heated race between Justice-Elect Janet Protasiewicz and Former Justice Dan Kelly.

And while I could link tweets all day, let’s just say they mirror those of Scott Walker, Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin GOP and Dan “Dude Where’s My Twitter Account” Kelly. They offer no real positive spin on why Kelly should have the seat, in a deeply divisive partisan talk. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe as an optimist, but I expected a little more.

Some might say “Well he is encouraging early voting, which is good for the process”. And to that, I will give you a big ol’ “Sure, ok”. The tactic of Republicans has been to stifle all forms of voting outside of same-day voting (and you better have that ID, folks!!) because they know it hurts them on election night. 

Schimming and the Wisconsin GOP aren’t endorsing early voting as an integral part of the process, they’re looking at the numbers and the failed game plan of demonizing it. This isn’t about democracy, it’s about not losing like a bunch of losing losertons. Did it work? Obviously not, as Kelly lost by 11 points. And if you were refreshing your screen like I was, it was never a contest in the first place with the election being called by AP at 8:53 pm. 

Now I know what you’re saying and yes…thank you…I have been working out! But some of you are shrieking “That’s not fair!! It’s only been a few months!!”. And you are right. But I also know that those who believe this also think Barack Obama or Joe Biden were failures because they didn’t fix the country at 12:02 pm on January 20. So simmer down Uncle Steve!!!  

If he hadn’t done much so far, I get it, politics is slow as molasses in Winter. But it was the sheer speed at which he went from “reformer” to pushing an agenda that was more of the same as before. This left me unimpressed and a little bummed. And it leads me to wonder: does Brian actually want to do something about the state of the Wisconsin GOP? He says he sees problems that look good to the papers, but does he actually view the current plan as toxic, racist, and only leading to a worse party? Right now it feels like that friend we all have who can’t understand why they’re single; you give them constructive, honest advice and they still do the same thing that leaves them on dating apps. 

Perhaps there is a plan. He just has to make it through April. Maybe then a new shiny road will be revealed? A crucial road leading them to 2024 when the nominee will be named in Milwaukee. Who knows? I can’t imagine that’s gonna be an easy bus to drive with the National Party added to the long list of people he has to babysit. 

Maybe the job as chairman isn’t as powerful as we think, just like the NFL commissioner isn’t so much the boss, but the errand boy to nearly three dozen petulant billionaires. Brian Schimming can’t enjoy some of the phone calls he has to return or requests he needs to entertain. Maybe expecting things to change over 120 days is a bit drastic. After all the GOP has been destroying itself from within over the past three decades (some would say five). 

The original intent of this post was to “liberal slam!!!” Mr. Schimming, because that’s easy to do when you don’t have that job and disagree on so much. Not to mention you’re yelling from the cheap seats. But after much thought (and four versions of this post), I have a lot of sympathy for the man and the enviable task of revising the GOP playbook. It can’t be easy, especially when there is so much pressure to win. And when the way to win is being shouted at you by the voices of lesser angels. And I truly do wish him the best of luck! If his goal is to create a better party, his game is just getting started. 


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