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Joe Sensenbrenner gets our vote -- State Journal endorsement from 30 years ago

March 31, 2019

This State Journal editorial ran on March 29, 1989:

After Madison’s mayoral primary narrowed the choices to incumbent Joseph Sensenbrenner and ex-mayor Paul Soglin, some people were downplaying the upcoming

general-election campaign because they perceived it as a race between

two men cut from the same political cloth.

To a degree, that’s true. Sensenbrenner is a lawyer; so is Soglin. Sensenbrenner has served six years in the mayor’s office (1983 to present); so did Soglin (1973-1977). Sensenbrenner is known as a moderate-to-liberal Democrat; Soglin is viewed as being a bit farther to the left. Both live downtown; both have families; neither man can be fairly accused of being short on gray matter.

Peas in a political pod? No way, for despite their outward similarities, Sensenbrenner and Soglin view Madison and the world through different pairs of eyeglasses. Sensenbrenner’s spectacles may be a bit tinted by rose, but Soglin’s were forged in a crucible of confrontation and paranoia. It is a condition that clouds his vision of a cooperative future for Madison to this day.

While some may continue to see these two candidates as “Soglinbrenner” or”Sensoglin,” our choice is clear: Joe Sensenbrenner deserves re-election to a fourth term. ...

Sensenbrenner has helped to make Madison a more inviting place for people from all walks of life — including those who create jobs. The current crop of city leaders have spent the better part of a decade repairing bridges that were firebombed during the Soglin era, and they have done so without surrendering the keys of the city to selfish interests.

Soglin insists he has changed since the 1970s; indeed, a lot of people of his generation have. But judging by his campaign meetings with civic, university and business leaders, his first instinct is still to back himself and everyone else in the room into “us” and “them” corners. Once that happens, it’s only human nature for everyone involved to lash out.

That executive style might have worked once, but it seems ill-suited for the Madison of the 1990s. ... Joe Sensenbrenner will get the city where it wants to be.