Posts Tagged With: Democrats

Barrett puts his ego ahead of Walker recall

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.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crimes may be added to lies as reasons for recall

The primary motivation for a campaign to recall Scott Walker from the governor’s office was that a significant portion of those who voted for him in the first place felt betrayed by his actual conduct in office. But according to information being gleefully emailed around the state from Democratic Party of Wisconsin email addresses, his administration may, in little over a year, have racked up a record of criminal corruption as well. Fifteen felony charges and three misdemeanor complaints have been filed against six of Walker’s closest associates.

One criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, according to Maggie Brickerman, the party’s state executive director, charges a secret email network set up twenty-five feet from the official governor’s office, as an end-run around open records laws, used among other things to do political campaigning and fundraising on taxpayer’s time. It wouldn’t be the first time; legislative leaders of both parties have been tried and convicted of similar misdeeds. But, for a governor subject to recall by the voters who elected him, to be doing this so flagrantly at the top of the executive branch, would take such venal corruption to a new level.

Kelly Rindfleisch, former Deputy Chief of Staff, and Darlene Wink, former Director of Constituent Services, have been charged with campaign finance violations, sending out campaign emails and organizing fundraisers while on the clock as state employees, time paid for by taxpayers to conduct public business. Tim Russell, former Deputy Chief of Staff, has been arrested on charges of stealing thousands of dollars intended for wounded veterans and families of military service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kevin Kavanaugh, a Walker appointee to the Veteran Service Commission, has been charged with five felonies, all revolving around theft of funds from the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Operation Freedom.

It can hardly be said that the arrest of Brian Pierick, former operator of ScottWalker.org, for felony enticement of a child, is related to either the Walker campaign or the conduct of state business. But the other arrests — albeit each individual is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in court — outline a possibility that the Walker administration views the state as an oyster bed to be tapped, rather than regarding state business as an opportunity for public service.

When he took office, Walker began concentrating unprecedented power into his own hands as governor, eliminating the independence from day to day politics of such agencies as the Department of Natural Resources. Money and power… power and money… Walker may have ambitions to wield the power assembled by the late Huey P. Long in Louisiana, although without any pretense to Sharing the Wealth. Replacing him in the upcoming recall election might well nip a nascent bid for dictatorship in the bud.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Believe in / Reclaim Wisconsin again and again and again

One of the slogans of the campaign to recall Scott Walker is “Reclaim Wisconsin.” This follows close on the heels of the Walker campaign’s 2010 slogan “Believe in Wisconsin Again.” It is typical of politics that each side claims to speak for “The People” and for truth and righteousness and progress. Even conservatives claim to offer more and better progress than progressives, who in turn claim to conserve the best of the past.

The truth is, between forty and forty-nine percent of the electorate generally voted for the losing candidate in any election. That is not a majority, which is why the losing candidate lost. But it is a lot of people, a very significant part of “We The People.” Seldom is any election a mandate to go whole hog on whatever the winner’s little heart desires. One reason Scott Walker is likely to face a recall election — which he may well lose — is that he forgot this simple fact.

Walker won fifty-two percent of the vote, in one of the lowest voter turnouts in many election cycles. Fifty-two percent is a majority, and it entitled him to take office. It meant that the center of gravity of “We The People” was leaning a bit his way. If he had been thinking clearly, instead of whooping for joy like a little boy in a candy store, he would have started his term differently.

He would have said “Gee, forty-eight percent of the people didn’t want what I offered, and a record number were so uninspired they didn’t vote for me any more than they voted for Tom Barrett.” He would have sat down with the leadership of the surviving Democrats in the legislature, and said, look, I won, and this is my plan, but to make this work for everyone, I’m going to need your help. Let’s talk about what the bottom line is for me, what the bottom line is for you, how we can cut each other some slack, and make the next four years work for all the people of Wisconsin.

But he didn’t. That is one reason he is facing a strong demand for recall. In addition, he has alienated a significant number of the voters who elected him. People who voted for Scott Walker are out circulating recall petitions. When you won with fifty-two percent, all it takes is three percent changing their mind about you, and your numbers are down to forty-nine percent. A shift of five percent brings you down to forty-seven percent. A new governor doing a half-way decent job generally moves things the other way, with five or ten percent of those who voted for the loser saying, Yah, well, this guy’s not doing such a bad job.”

News coverage suggests that Walker’s own polls show fifty-seven percent favoring recall. That is exactly what a recall election is for: when one year in office horrifies many of the people who voted for the incumbent. But not ALL the people who voted for Scott Walker favor a recall. There are those who like and admire him, who approve of most or all that he had accomplished.

When the dust settles, if Walker is recalled, it is a sure bet that AT LEAST forty percent of “We The People” of Wisconsin will have voted to keep Governor Walker in office. It is likely to be closer to forty-five percent, maybe even forty-nine percent. The Democratic Party will then have to face the fact that not much short of half the voters still supported Scott Walker. Voters who are NOT Democrats, but supported the recall, will also have to adjust their expectations of what happens next.

It won’t be carte blanche to do whatever the new governor wants. Even if control of one or both houses of the legislature flip, by recall elections in 2012, or in the regular November elections, the new governor must BE what Scott Walker rhetorically claimed to be: the governor of all the people of Wisconsin. No law, no program, no platform, ever gets the support of 100 percent of the people. Individuals are too individual for that. But the things worth doing, the things that need doing, should each be laws, programs, policies, budget items, that a good sixty-to eighty percent of the people can live with.

If Walker had thought about that, he wouldn’t be facing a recall right now. If the next governor thinks about it, use of the recall will remain rare, a last resort. Otherwise, we are going to have constant battles between caucuses and parties that want what they want and want it now, but are unwilling to accommodate what forty percent of the people care about. It will be non-stop battles, and no time to actually get anything done.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

But who will bell the cat… or run in the recall… ???

The question NOBODY is talking about may be the most critical: It seems obvious there will be enough signatures to require Scott Walker to defend his title in a recall election, but who will be running against him? If the Democratic Party offers a real dud, all the work and hopes that have been poured into collecting over 545,000 signatures could be a complete waste.

California has a better recall system: Once a recall election is scheduled, voters get two questions: (1) Should the incumbent be recalled? (2) If a majority vote to recall, who should succeed the incumbent? In 2003, a majority of voters chose to recall Gov. Gray Davis. Then everybody, both those for and against recall, got to vote on his successor — all on the same day. As we all know, Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected.

Under current Wisconsin law, the only recall election will be Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefish vs. ________ and __________. Filling in the blank is a critical step. Republican Scott Brown took a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts in 2009 because Democrats picked a candidate who didn’t feel like campaigning, and didn’t think she needed to. The wrong Democrat could hand the whole deal back to Scott Walker.

Running Tom Barrett would be a real disaster. Barrett’s candidacy in 2010 was a major reason Scott Walker got into the governor’s chair in the first place. The Democratic leadership wanted someone with “name recognition.” Yes, Barrett was well known — as an old politician. Walker, although himself a ruthless politician of some years experience, was able to come on as the fresh young face. Barrett didn’t really want the job anyway, and it showed throughout the campaign. Barrett was ready to serve out another term or two as mayor of Milwaukee and then gracefully retire.

Hopefully the Democratic leadership of the 2009-2010 legislature, who all lost their seats in November 2010, are sufficiently chastened not to offer themselves. They are also a good part of the reason Republicans swept the 2010 statewide elections. Spineless cretins holding their fingers in the air to see which way the wind is blowing did not impress voters. They wouldn’t make a good contrast to all the reasons voters want Scott Walker out either.

Tom Nelson, who ran alongside Barrett for lieutenant governor, offers the youthful challenge many voters thought they were getting in Scott Walker, but he has settled into the job of Outagamie County Executive.

Kathleen Falk would offer the values and priorities that voters seem to be seeking as they sign recall petitions. She may still be wounded from the battle in 2006 for attorney general, when incumbent Gov. James Doyle distanced himself from her campaign, and she narrowly lost. Of course, being shunned by Doyle and Walker could make a candidate look really good this year. Neither is popular. She would need a better campaign staff than whoever designed her pathetically ineffective TV commercials in 2006. But she would make a really good governor, and offer recall voters a clear contrast to Scott Walker.

Maybe there will be a Democratic primary before the recall elections. In the 2011 legislative recall elections, several Republicans submitted papers for Democratic primaries just to drag out the time. But if there is no clear candidate with the confidence of most voters, ready to oppose Walker in a recall, a primary might be a good thing. At least, it would improve chances of getting a candidate on the ballot who has the confidence of voters.

That’s what primaries are for. Recalling Scott Walker is too important to leave the choice of a challenger up to a few party insiders.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.