It's easy to understand how voters who are only casual observers of politics could be confused: Ben Manski and Ben Masel: two guys both named Ben, both with last names that start with "Ma" and both running against Democratic party favorites for public office. Neither will spend the kind of money necessary for mass advertising to differentiate themselves. So here's the Waxing America guide to Madison's two political guys named Ben:
Ben Manski, the Green Party candidate in Wisconsin's 77th Assembly District, is running against Democratic Party primary winer Brett Hulsey and Republican Dave Redick. Waxing America guages Manski's chances as 10-1 and Redick's as none. Manski is a product of Madison schools and the UW-Madison, and has been active in a range of causes from Greenpeace to Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, and practices law, specializing in non-profit, coop, and public sector issues. Helping Manski's chances is the endorsement of Madison's teachers' union, MTI. Not helping is the confusion with Ben Masel.
Ben Masel lost to Tommy Thompson in the Republican primary for Governor in 1990, and ran second to Senator Herb Kohl in the Democratic primary for US Senate in 2006. Masel has already declared his candidacy challenging Senator Herb Kohl in the Democratic primary for US Senate in 2012, and is a frequent poster on DailyKos and a longtime First Amendment and marijuana rights activist.
Both have campaigned at the Westside Community Market, and enjoyed the free coffee and baked goods the Market feeds its vendors, musicians, and political candidates.
Ben Masel, at 55, is considerably older than Ben Manski, 36. Masel is a grandfather, with white hair and beard; Manski has no children and very red hair and beard.
Ben Masel only accepts $1 campaign donations, billing himself as the "Senator you can afford." Ben Manski takes contributions in the usual amounts from most anyone who wishes to donate.
Ben Masel knows that he never will beat Herb Kohl, but has fun trying. Ben Manski actually believes that he could beat Brett Hulsey, and seems to be having some fun trying, but mostly looks and acts serious.
Ben Masel went to San Francisco in the 1967 "Summer of Love" and saw the Grateful Dead play for free in Panhandle Park. No, sorry, that was me.
Ben Masel saw the Grateful Dead play when they were only a few years past their prime. Ben Manski used to play his parents' old Dead records to annoy his friends in high school. Jerry Garcia died the year Manski could legally drink.
Ben Masel is this guy (but now with beard: Ben Manski is this guy:
Voters of the Wisconsin 77th AD can vote for Ben Manski or Brett Hulsey or even Dave Redick, but can't vote for Ben Masel this November.
In the September 2012 Democratic primary, all Wisconsin voters will have a chance to vote for Ben Masel for US Senate. Last time, he pulled in 51,245 votes to Herb Kohl's 308,178, pretty damn good considering that Masel was outspent by a factor approaching infinity. You never know what could happen if Kohl decides not to run in 2012.
Got it? No longer confused? informed and ready to vote intelligently? Good. Now stop reading blogs and get back to work.
- Barry Orton