Just been looking over Brenda Konkel's run-down of endorsements from the major interest groups in the County Board elections. It's not as clear-cut as you may expect.
For starters, most observers would classify the realtors association, the Sheriff Deputies' Union and the Chamber of Commerce as conservative interest groups. However, all three groups showed ideological flexibility in their endorsements.
If we take Brenda's classification of candidates for granted, the Deputies endorsed four lefties and fourteen righties in the eighteen contested races. The most stunning example was their endorsement in campus-area district 5 of Michael Johnson, the Progressive Dane candidate facing off against Dem candidate Analiese Eicher. I can't think of a reasonable explanation for that endorsement, other than perhaps Johnson bothered to talk to them and they rewarded him to send a message.
The Chamber of Commerce will always be a little different. Though COC generally toes the free market line, they will support big public investments from time to time, such as they did for the Regional Transit Authority. But despite the RTA being the biggest economic issue before the board, the COC has endorsed plenty of anti-RTA conservatives. It's tough to decipher a pattern in the endorsements, except to assume that they generally want a conservative board and pragmatically endorsed some liberals who they believe will win anyway.
The realtors only endorsed conservatives. So much for Greg Hull's contention that the area's chapter was much more liberal than the state chapter. The only Dems they endorsed were in uncontested races.
Granted, we can't have any discussion of endorsements without including this hilarious, if not deeply disturbing, thread on the Daily Page forum. Arnold Harris, the founder of the Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment, whatever that means, put out a list of left-leaning endorsements. Dave Blaska, a former County Board buffoon himself, objected, prompting Harris to defend himself by touting his own neanderthal credentials, including his distaste for "wetbacks," and his support for McCain and Palin (note he made sure to mention the veep candidate).
The Dane Dems, Progressive Dane and even the Dane Green Party endorsed candidates, although not in every race. As county political veteran Michael Basford told me, the Dane GOP is too cowardly to officially endorse candidates, but they have a facebook page that expresses support for them.