In a follow up post, Wigderson enumerated some of the specific complaints about Neumann’s 2010 campaign, including an ad that Neumann ran accusing Walker of being responsible for the death of a 15-year-old, after a concrete slab fell on his head due to sloppy construction of a parking structure. The construction problem turned out to have preceded Walker’s tenure as county executive, though Neumann never apologized for the ad.
Wigderson also attacked Neumann for saying at the time that his supporters were not permitted to enter the state Republican convention, crying foul, when in fact it was only because his supporters had not registered for the convention ahead of time, as required.
Just how widespread this sentiment is remains a point of disagreement among Wisconsin political observers. One unaligned campaign consultant said it was a grudge primarily held by political insiders, and that it would not decide the election, though it might affect Neumann by one or two percentage points.
The veteran political observer was of a different opinion, saying that “it goes beyond the geeks and the people who live and breathe politics; it goes down to the little old ladies who stuff envelopes. … It goes beyond just the inside blogger types and the conservative establishment.”
“The knock I’ve heard against the congressman is: ‘He may vote the right way, but I just don’t like him,’” the observer added.
Moreover, the observer said, the specter of the 2010 campaign feeds into a “growing anxiety among Republicans in Wisconsin that the primary is getting nasty, and it’s only benefiting Tammy Baldwin,” the Democratic candidate.
Indeed, Gov. Walker issued a call last week for the candidates to tone down the negativity, the Journal-Sentinel reported.
Neumann’s opponents are clearly aware of the grudge.
“I think there’s no question it’s an issue,” Sean Lansing, Hovde’s press secretary, told The Daily Caller. “You watched during the entire recall election Mark try to bend over backwards to make amends for how negative and nasty he was in 2010, and you’ve kind of seen him carry that through the entire campaign because he did burn a lot of bridges in 2010, and there are still really negative feelings about that among a lot of voters in Wisconsin.”
“He is almost awkwardly trying to attach himself to the hip of the governor and play nice, and act like their the best of friends, when really the people in Wisconsin realize that’s not the case,” Lansing added, saying the maneuver was “not working.”
Hovde began running an ad Tuesday that attacked Neumann for his negative ads this cycle, and drew parallels to those he ran in the gubernatorial primary.
“Mark Neumann? He’s the same guy that said Scott Walker’s record was worse than Governor Doyle’s. This time, Neumann’s attacking me instead of Walker,” Hovde says in the ad, entitled “Yuck.”
Asked whether they were concerned about the lingering grudge some people hold against Neumann, Neumann campaign manager Chip Englander emailed: “The polls show Mark Neumann is surging because voters above all else want a proven conservative. Neumann was rated Wisconsin’s ‘Most Conservative’ Congressman of the last thirty years. He’s written a plan that cuts trillions in spending. And he has the record and backbone to go do it.”
“Scott Walker has been a phenomenal governor,” Englander wrote. “That’s why Mark was proud to campaign hard for him two years ago against Tom Barrett and again during the recall.”