The Wisconsin Republican Party is very good at manipulating the rules of democracy. They’ve gerrymandered the hell out of the state to the point that despite Democrats having gotten a majority of the votes in the 2018 legislature election, Republicans won 63 of 99 seats.
Now, in a vital swing state in the November election, the Wisconsin GOP is taking aim at… the Brewers’ Racing Sausages?
In a letter to the Milwaukee Election Commission, party chairman Andrew Hitt wrote that when the Brewers’ stadium and Bucks’ arena are used as absentee ballot drop-off sites, the presence of “players or mascots” — and the letter specifically mentions the Sausages — “would constitute electioneering within the meaning of Wis. Stat § 12.03(2). That statute provides that ‘[n]o person may engage in electioneering in the municipal clerk’s office or at an alternate site under s. 6.855 during the hours that absentee ballots may be cast.’”
According to Justin Levitt at the Election Law Blog, “The legal citations in the letter seem … off.” But it is clear enough to see where the legal argument is, that get-out-the-vote efforts can be construed as a form of electioneering and that the presence of local celebrities at a voting site is an enticement. Plus, they’d be arguing any legal issues in a Wisconsin court, and the state’s top court, even after a recent liberal addition, splits 4-3 for the conservative wing.
So, who knows where this goes? But the Republicans’ calculus is off here, because they showed their hand. They’re scared of the Bucks, whose decision to go on strike in August to protest the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake proved popular and ground the entire sports world to a brief halt, forcing actions like the teams getting involved with their facilities as voting sites. That’s how we got here.
They’re afraid of the Bucks, but they can’t just say the Bucks because that raises obvious questions that they can’t give an honest answer to without giving up the game, if that’s still a thing Republicans care about after Tuesday night’s presidential debate. So, they’ve got to include the Brewers in this, and the Brewers means the Sausages because at election time, the players are not going to be in Milwaukee — they’ll be home for the offseason.
The Sausages are immensely popular and had races all over Milwaukee this summer, as fans couldn’t come see them at the ballpark. Randall Simon of the Pittsburgh Pirates became public enemy No. 1 in the city and had to pay a $432 fine for disorderly conduct after taking a bat to the back of the Italian Sausage (the 19-year-old woman in the costume suffered cuts and bruises) in 2003.
You do not fuck with the Racing Sausages.
But the Wisconsin GOP is just that scared of people voting, and also just that petty. They surely know that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio gave $10,000 to the Wisconsin Democrats in 2016, and $2,700 to former Democratic senator Russ Feingold in his Senate race that year. They also know that Bucks owner Wes Edens gave $75,000 to the Democratic SuperPAC Principles Project in 2018.
All of that desire for power and all of that spite led to the hubris of thinking they could take a run at the Sausages, which not only highlights how much the Republicans don’t want people to vote, but reminds Wisconsinites that their sports facilities will be absentee ballot drop-off sites, and provides better advertising than the Brewers could provide that the Sausages might be on hand.
On top of everything else, it now recasts the Sausages as heroes of democracy. All they want to do is get people out to vote, after all, which they themselves as fictional characters cannot do. They are nonpartisan meat products who have never so much as said a word about politics, or anything else for that matter.
Somehow, this has garnered them a powerful enemy, and that enemy is the Republican Party. The Wisconsin GOP already was an enemy of democracy, but by further exposing themselves as such, they’ve become an enemy of the Sausages, and that’s just going too far.