Sunday, August 7, 2016

Paul Nehlen's 15 Seconds of Fame

As your representative cartoonist from House Speaker Paul Ryan's congressional district, I've had a front row seat to Tea Partisan Paul Nehlen's challenge to the Congressman in this Tuesday's Republican primary.

Ordinarily, Nehlen's candidacy would find itself desperate for any attention. Wisconsin's First Congressional District is home to no television stations, and the media in the district generally accord non-incumbent congressional candidates the same level of coverage that national media grant to Green and Libertarian candidates.

But then Donald Trump decided he'd pay Ryan back for the Congressman having spent the presidential primary season "just not there yet" to endorse the mercurial business mogul. Trump praised Nehlen for running "a very good campaign" and declared that as far as endorsing the House Speaker, Trump was "just not there yet," either.

Suddenly, Nehlen found himself welcome to appear on national TV to fulminate against Ryan for supposedly supporting porous borders and job-killing trade pacts. California-based liberal pundit Mickey Kaus published an open letter to Wisconsin Democrats to cross over to vote for Nehlen, forsaking the two candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

I don't know of any push by local Democrats to encourage crossover votes for Nehlen, but then I'm not close to anybody who would be behind such a strategy. It would be just desserts for the party that has been free to cross over to vote for the weakest Democrat in every race for the 1st CD seat for the past 20 years.

I do know that a bunch of signs have suddenly cropped up along our highways, printed on Ryan's shade of kelly green (but not in his Gill Extra Bold font) with messages like:
Corporations first! Vote for Ryan.
Open our borders! Vote for Ryan.
Don't be selfish! Vote for Ryan and give your job to a foreign worker. 
Those might well come from the Nehlen campaign, which already had plenty of Vote Nehlen signs festooning our roads, or from a shadowy organization called "AmericaSpeaks" that took a full-page ad for Nehlen in this morning's newspaper. We also got a mailing yesterday paid for by "Volunteers for Nehlen" headlined "Speaker Ryan - Congressman for Beijing." After a series of bullet points using the ¥uan symbol for bullets, the tag line is "Vote August 9 for Speaker Ryan and Make China Great Again!"

Trump finally endorsed Ryan this Friday, which probably carries little or no weight here anyway. Conservative talk radio is solidly pro-Ryan and has hardly warmed to Donald Trump since leading the Never Trump movement in the Wisconsin presidential primary.

To cap off Paul Nehlen's day, he was refused entry to Trump's rally in Green Bay. He accused the state Republican Party of keeping him out of the rally even though he had two tickets to get in, but the state GOP says it was the Trump campaign that turned him away.

A Trump spokesperson supports the Wisconsin GOP version of events.

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