Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz responded aggressively Thursday to comments made earlier this week by U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Green Bay, attacking the 2006 gubernatorial candidate and defending the liberal nature of the City of Madison.
As reported by The Badger Herald, Green referred to the capital city as "Planet Madison" — a place with political views far from those found throughout the rest of the state — while campaigning at the University of Wisconsin Tuesday.
"I noted your comments as reported yesterday morning in The Badger Herald regarding ‘Planet Madison,’" Cieslewicz wrote. "Insulting the 225,000 residents of Wisconsin's second-largest city is a novel electoral strategy in your run for governor. Good luck with that approach."
In the letter, Ciesliewicz lumped Green with beleaguered Republican Congressmen Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham as key members in a conservative counterpart to Planet Madison, which he dubbed "Planet Washington."
The mayor blamed conservative values for the creation of billions of dollars in federal deficits, cuts to the Community Development Block Grant that fights homelessness and the undertaking of a war in Iraq that "costs $195 million a day with no end in sight."
Altogether, the conservatives' policies and indiscretions have created an "ethical quagmire" that has Madison citizens questioning the federal government's integrity, Ciewlewicz continued.
George Twigg, communications director for the mayor, said Cieslewicz has had enough of the criticism from the rest of the state.
"He is just sick and tired of politicians from other parts of the state beating up on Madison," Twigg said. "It's really silly because we're doing better economically and in terms of the quality of life of our citizens than the rest of the state."
During a speech before a gathering of the UW College Republicans Tuesday, Green blasted "Planet Madison's" political elite — from Gov. Jim Doyle to Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager — for what he perceives to be values out of touch with the average Wisconsinite.
"It's not just about lowering the tax burden. It's not just about educational opportunities. It's also about protecting the values that I think have made this state special," Green said. "There is a Wisconsin way of life. Government didn't create it. Government shouldn't damage it. And, sadly, I think we're seeing too many examples [of that]."
Green is competing with Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker for the Republican nomination for governor. The winner of the September primary will face Doyle in the general election.
Madison's skewed values trickle down throughout the entire city, Green said. Case in point: a homework assignment at a city elementary school last month requiring students to write letters to elected officials demanding an end to the war in Iraq. The assignment was rescinded amid a firestorm of criticism, including a letter from Green to the school's principal.
"On what planet would it be OK to use students as political pawns?" Green asked. "Planet Madison. And it would be entirely humorous except — the bad news is — Planet Madison is running the state."
Cieslewicz, however, said the state should take a cue from its capital city, happily contrasting the GOP's values with Madison's policies in his letter.
"Clearly, the liberal policies of the last three decades are paying off in a very healthy economy," he wrote of the city. "If we are out of touch with the rest of the state, then I hope the rest of the state will get in touch with us."
Green could not be reached for a response in regard to the letter Thursday.