The Walker campaign has received the best news since the recall campaign began: Tom Barrett is sticking his nose into the race, offering the Democratic Party a chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Everyone in Wisconsin knows how voters responded to a choice between Barrett and Walker: they chose Walker. The majority wasn’t huge, but majorities seldom are in America, and certainly not in Wisconsin.
There could be no greater betrayal of the hard work by thousands of citizens to recall Scott Walker, than to reduce this election to a replay of the losing 2010 campaign. The recall was not even initiated by the Democratic Party — it was initiated by independent organizations like Wisconsin United and Wisconsin Jobs Now. The Democrats got on the bandwagon once they saw it was a good bet.
Turning back the recall with Barrett at the top of the ticket will be like shooting goldfish in a barrel. The Republican machine has been revved up for it, and fine tuning its attacks. Barrett is offering a classic case of the Peter Principal. He has a job, as mayor of Milwaukee, that he does with reasonable competence. He’s not outstanding, but he’s competent. Now he insists on trying once again to rise to a level of incompetence.
Unfortunately, recalling Walker is going to mean electing a Democrat. An independent of some description might better capture the popular mood, but the electoral machinery to make it happen does not exist.
Fortunately, Barrett has to win a primary before he can put himself up against Walker. Even more fortunately, in Wisconsin, we have an open primary. Core Democratic voters are not going to decide this election. They turned out in 2010 also, and that wasn’t enough to win. Swing voters are going to decide this election.
The legitimacy and success of a recall depends on people who voted for the incumbent changing their minds. Hopefully a good turnout of independents will nominate a Democrat who will offer a bold new challenge to Scott Walker, not a tired old lame patsy who has already shown he can’t lead to victory against the incumbent.