By Malcolm McIntyre
Last Thursday the League of Women Voters of the Ripon Area attempted to host a candidate forum for 6th Congressional District Representative Glenn Grothman, the incumbent, and Jessica King, his opponent.
It did not happen.
Which was actually no surprise. Grothman, like many of his Republican cohorts, is not a fan of LWV candidate forums. He doesn’t consider the LWV, which is an officially recognized 501 c 4 nonprofit organization, sufficiently nonpartisan. Grothman thinks the organization has too many members who are not Republican. So he doesn’t participate in LWV events.
Which, of course, does a tremendous disservice to the voters of the 6th Congressional District. His absence deprives voters of an opportunity to hear Grothman discuss issues which are of great interest to the voters. Thus, it leaves many voters, Republicans and Democrats alike, uninformed.
But perhaps the real reason Grothman and other Republicans refuse to participate in public forums is they can’t control or manage the process. Their idol, President Trump, loves to stage, and “stage” is the right word, “rallies” where only his supporters can attend. The entire event is tightly controlled and scripted. There are no awkward or difficult questions from the general public.
And this is what Grothman and his handlers want to avoid. The questions asked of candidates during the LWV candidate forums come from the general public. In fact, the LWV solicits and encourages questions from the general public. Yes, League members screen the questions and in some cases consolidate them if they are similar, but the only qualifier used in this process is all questions must be directed at each candidate. No questions are asked if only one of the candidates is able to answer. Seems fair, doesn’t it?
But that is not enough for Grothman. In fact, he did not even accept the certified forum invitation letter sent to him by the League (King, his opponent, quickly accepted her invite). He of course knew that the League had scheduled the forum for King and himself, because it has been publicized in local media, but Grothman, as he has done in the past, thumbed his nose at the League and those voters seeking information from both candidates.
Why would he do that? Isn’t he seeking the votes of people within the 6th CD? Sadly, he is not. Because the district was gerrymandered in 2010 by his party, to ensure that it remain “safe” for Republicans, Grothman doesn’t need any votes outside of those who vote Republican. From his perspective, he can’t lose. So why risk being asked questions that might make him appear to be less informed and less responsive to the needs of all of his constituents.
His plan, and that of his advisors, is stay home, keep quiet, and earn a return to Washington. Is this the way a Democracy is supposed to function?