Fifty Three to Fifty Six: Kaufert, Doyle and a Fox Valley opening

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kaufert, Doyle and a Fox Valley opening

Switch hitter?

Ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson may not have invented the strategy, but he sure perfected it, and now his longtime rival, Gov. Jim Doyle, is tearing a page from the Tommy playbook.

The Democratic governor, you see, is looking for a Republican or two to hire in hopes of giving his party control of the Assembly.

Doyle is taking a look at Rep. Dean Kaufert, who is smarting because his fellow Republicans rejected his bid to become Assembly speaker and bounced him out of leadership.

An early exit by Kaufert, a lawmaker for 16 years, would give GOP leaders heartburn since he represents a swing district in the Fox River Valley. In January, Republicans will control the Assembly by a 52-47 margin. The Dems will control the Senate 18-15.

Would Kaufert jump ship? Read his comments and decide for yourself.

"John Kerry won my district," Kaufert said of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate. "But you've got to look beyond that. I've got to look out for my future too. . . . You've got to look out for the team, the Republican team. But after the events recently, I've got to look out for myself, too."

Translation: Kaufert's references are available on request.

Actually, Doyle probably knew that already, since his guys broached the subject with Kaufert a couple of days after he was re-elected on a 52%-48% margin.

Kaufert said a pal who is close to the guv called him to congratulate him on his victory and to ask whether he would be open to joining the administration. Kaufert's response: He'd listen to any offer but would be particularly interested in a cabinet post heading revenue, tourism or commerce. Deputy secretary would be OK, too.

Besides, Kaufert noted, he already has a good relationship with the top guy.

"I'm one of the few Republicans who, I think, the governor has my cell phone number."

He just might want to keep that line open.

Cary Spivak and Dan Bice can be contacted by phone at (414) 223-5468 or e-mail at Read their blog at 12/7/06


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