On Tuesday, the Tea Party candidate for mayor of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, got only 226 votes. Randy Molini lost, 70 percent to 30 percent, to incumbent mayor Ron Danielson.
Molini is the “Campaign for Liberty” chair in Jackson County, and is close with Wisconsin Tea Party leader Kenneth Scott Noble.
The Campaign for Liberty’s website proclaims: “We believe that the free market, reviled by people who do not understand it, is the most just and humane economic system and the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known.”
Molini owns Rozario’s Pizza and Pasta and has been in a longstanding feud with the city of Black River Falls over his failure to have state-approved ventilation systems operating in his restaurant.
A Tea Party organization in Wisconsin Rapids, started by Noble, targeted the mayor of Black River Falls for an "investigation." "Look at the effects of Wisconsin Business Coalition opening a case in Black River Falls!" the group crowed on its Facebook page, when the local newspaper, the La Crosse Tribune, ran a March 13 story on the mayor and street superintendent denying wrongdoing in a misconduct case pursued by the city's police department.
The nearly three-month investigation at taxpayer expense, which involved the mayor's brother's sewer-line permit, ended when the Jackson County district attorney dismissed all charges.
Black River Falls residents who attended a campaign event for Molini at the local Best Western Hotel say the police chief and his sons were there, along with Scott Noble. When a reporter for The Progressive asked the chief about that event, and about his attendance at meetings and political events with tea party and Campaign For Liberty leaders, he refused to answer questions and abruptly walked away.
A quick perusal of the Wisconsin Business Coalition Facebook page shows an obsession with business deregulation and with investigations of alleged misconduct by local government officials.
"What defines a corrupt government?" One post asks. "Is it placing too many 'conditions' on a business? Is it a mayor who tries to intimidate a business who is trying to get their story out into the public? Is it when a business owner fears that an ELECTED official will harm his business? Stay tuned!"
Whatever the Tea Party's answer to those questions may be, the voters of Black River Falls gave their own answer on Tuesday: the local mayor, not the statewide tea party organization, will represent them in office.
Molini has not ruled out running for office again.