Empower Wisconsin | Dec.3, 2020
By Adam Jarchow
MADISON — Many of our readers have probably never heard the name Todd Novak. Who is he? A Republican State Assembly representative from southcentral Wisconsin.
He was first elected in 2014. He has been re-elected every two years since.
So why write about him? Because he defies the odds every election. He’s a Republican in a very blue district. Yet, while Tammy Baldwin, Tony Evers and, most recently, Joe Biden, carry his district, Todd still wins. In these partisan days, ticket-splitting is pretty uncommon. Yet, somehow Todd gets a good share of Democrat voters. How? Is he some conservative turncoat? Does he regularly vote with Democrats? Nope. Sometimes he does. He certainly has a more bi-partisan profile than some in the Legislature. But, for the most-part, he is a reliable Republican vote.
Many will have their own theories as to how Todd thrives in a hostile district. Here’s mine. First, he’s a genuinely good guy. I don’t think enough can be said about politicians who are just good humans, especially these days. People like them because they know even if they disagree, it comes from the right place. Todd is that guy. Second, hard work. Todd is also a dad and the mayor of Dodgeville. Yet, he knocks tens of thousands of doors, marches in every parade and puts out hundreds of yard signs. It also helps that Todd is a good fundraiser. Finally, Todd is a great communicator. He tells people in very plain language why he votes the way he does. People may disagree, but they come away feeling that he votes the way he does based on convictions, not politics.
Todd is a force of nature in today’s partisan politics. Now, I’m going to add one last thing: he’s openly gay. In fact, he’s the first openly gay Republican state representative in Wisconsin history. Yet, getting back to the beginning of this piece, you don’t know his name. Why? The #FakeNews, of course. If, Todd were a Democrat doing what he’s done in a Republican district, he’d be on the front page of Newsweek. The media would write fawning stories. But, because he’s a Republican, they largely ignore him. It’s disappointing, but not surprising.
Todd’s success absolutely destroys the “gerrymandering” myth Wisconsin Democrats have perpetuated since 2011. The fact of the matter is Republicans have candidates like Todd who can win in deep blue districts, while Democrats have candidates like Nick Milroy who can barely squeak by in blue districts. Democrats are in the minority because they recruit terrible candidates. Period.
Todd also breaks all the narratives of the #FakeNews and LameStream media, so they refuse to acknowledge him. My God. Could you imagine if a gay, conservative Republican could serve with a bunch of right-wingers and be perfectly comfortable? No harassment? No snide remarks? Just another colleague. It would break the media. They couldn’t handle it. How could it be that a group of over 60 right-wing knuckle-draggers could serve with a gay man and treat him just like anyone else? Well, because, frankly, the truth is, Republicans don’t really care. Black, white, woman, man, gay, straight, religious or agnostic, we just want freedom. We want government to do its core functions well, and to leave the rest to “we the people”. That’s also what Todd wants. That’s why we love him!
The media should spend some time on Todd’s story. It’s incredible.
Adam Jarchow is president of Empower Wisconsin. The small business owner, attorney and volunteer firefighter is a former Republican state representative in the Legislature.