Posts Tagged With: opponent

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.

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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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