Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Dave Westlake leaped into the breech Wednesday, understudying for his missing GOP primary election rival Ron Johnson at a Tea Party affair in Madison, WI.
Westlake stressed his hard-right credentials by calling for the repeal of the Patriot Act, a position staked out by Russ Feingold in 2001.
(Dave Westlake's "blaze orange" campaign theme also appropriates Senator Feingold's position with respect to the Second Amendment, which is slightly to the right of the National Rifle Association's.)
Ron Johnson had canceled the Madison Tea Party engagement after disappearing earlier in the week when a set of YouTubes emerged showing Johnson struggling defensively to explain fundamental policy perspectives to a local group called the Rock River Patriots.
Candidate Johnson, 55, admitted to the Patriots he'd only been through the U.S. Constitution "five or six times" and that he discovered it to be "not an easy document to read." Yet almost simultaneously, he assured them he'd "take to Washington a very deep reverence for the genius of the Founding Fathers."
But the Patriots were skeptical.
Westlake is one of two Republican candidates whose election posters were torn down from the wall by Ron Johnson and his posse at the Party's State convention in Milwaukee last month, where Johnson received the Official Establishment Republican Party Endorsement.
At the time, nobody knew anything about Johnson except that he reportedly had $10-$15 million to spend and his "foundational book" was Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged (not — oddly — the Bible).
Whereas Dave Westlake had been campaigning assiduously for months, and must have chafed at seeing his poster crumpled and discarded so that Johnson might have a blank wall to stand in front of for the teevee cameras.
Johnson said he decided to run when beloved Fox "News" personality Dick Morris put out a random call for "some rich guy in Wisconsin."
Meanwhile abortion outfit Wisconsin Right to Life endorsed Ron Johnson yesterday, despite Johnson's consent to a broad range of exceptions for the procedure, including the "true life" of the mother. Candidate Westlake said he would allow for no such exceptions.
WRtL determined that Johnson was the more "electable" candidate, proving the abortion opponents' devotion to situational morality. Moreover, situational morality in service of political expediency.
On principle, WRtL's embracing Westlake seems the correct choice.
Ron Johnson remains in hiding, assessing his troubled candidacy.