Posts Tagged With: Kathleen Falk

Barrett has a thin skin about gaps in his record

Tom Barrett, a fairly competent mayor for Milwaukee, was on the radio news broadcasts April 24, whining that he thinks it’s inappropriate for Kathleen Falk to mention the fact that he was nowhere to be seen in the movement to gather one million signatures to recall the current governor, Scott Walker.

It’s a fact. He wasn’t there. He was sitting on the sidelines. It was a weakness of the recall process that no specific alternative to Walker was put forward. Falk, however, was among the many who put themselves on the line to make a recall possible. After all the hard work was done, Barrett wrapped up a successful race for four more years as mayor of Milwaukee… turned around and asked “Was anyone calling for meeeeee???”

Actually, no. Thousands of volunteers out collecting a million signatures had NOT been thinking about Barrett for governor AT ALL. Many people thought he was reluctant to run for governor in the first place in 2010. Few expected the loser of 2010 to offer himself as “the only one who can beat Scott Walker” now. In truth, Tom Barrett is the only Democrat who has LOST to Scott Walker in a general election for governor.

The truth is, most Democrats who lost in 2010 deserved to lose. Wisconsin didn’t deserve the Republicans who ran against them, but a lot of Democratic incumbents had distinguished themselves as standing for absolutely nothing, standing around with their wet fingers to the wind, saying “not this year, voters might not like it,” to almost any bill of substance.

Voters will be looking for something better than what the Democratic Party had to offer in 2010. Kathleen Falk isn’t the freshest, newest, face in the party, but she’s not the face the party offered last time around. She had done, in Dane County, what Walker would not do in state government: sit down with unions, present the budget figures, and bargain for ways to save taxpayers money that state employees could live with.

Now it really all depends on whether Falk can show voters, Democratic voters first, then in the general election, that she has something of substance to offer. If she can do that, then she could be a viable candidate, and a competent, inspirational, governor.

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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.

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