On Tuesday, June 5, voters in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to elect as governor Tom Barrett; the pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-women’s rights, pro-education, and pro-environment Mayor of Milwaukee, who fits in Wisconsin’s proud tradition of honest, progressive government. This opportunity comes after approximately 1 million Wisconsin voters signed a petition to recall the current GOP Governor, Scott Walker, whose divisive attacks on public employees, attempt to restrict voting rights, and cronyism triggered a groundswell of protest and opposition throughout the state. The resulting recall efforts have already achieved a lot, including ending the conservative majority in the State Senate. But now is the time to restore Wisconsin’s progressive tradition by electing Barrett for Governor, Mahlon Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor, and all the Democratic State Senate recall candidates.
Recent polls have suggested that Walker has a small lead, 50-45%, over Barrett. But there are two important points that show that such a small lead can be overcome by Barrett. First, the polls have barely budged since March, despite Walker having a 25 to 1 funding advantage. This suggests that the flood of out-of-state money trying to prop up Walker can be defeated. Second is that Walker’s narrow lead results not from from higher overall support, but from a higher level of enthusiasm among Republicans than Democrats. As explained recently in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
There are signs Walker is benefiting from an enthusiasm gap. In a new Marquette poll, 91% of Republicans said they were absolutely certain to vote in the June recall election, compared to 83% of Democrats. In Marquette’s last three polls, Republicans have expressed more certainty about voting in June than Democrats.
Another clue about intensity can be found in the partisan makeup of voters in recent surveys. In a typical Wisconsin poll, Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans. But in a poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic survey firm, Republicans out-numbered Democrats 35% to 28% (with independents at 37%).
This helps explain Walker’s 50% to 45% lead over Barrett in the PPP poll taken May 11-13. Walker actually trailed Barrett slightly among independents in the poll (42% to 49%), but with Republicans outnumbering Democrats — and 90% of voters in both parties voting along party lines — Walker led overall.
What these numbers suggests is that Barrett can win the recall election so long as our voters get as enthusiastic as the Republicans are now. In other words, it’s time to get fired up about sending a message that Walker’s divisive, Koch Brothers’ agenda is not going to prevail in Wisconsin. Here are three reasons to get enthusiastic about voting for Tom Barrett, to recall Scott Walker on June 5:
1. Barrett Would Restore Wisconsin’s Progressive Tradition – As John Nichols has explained at The Capitol Times:
Barrett’s congressional record was that of a progressive who voted against George Bush’s war with Iraq; who broke with his party leadership to oppose the Patriot Act; and who was a champion of public education and a defender of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His record closely paralleled that of former Sen. Russ Feingold on those issues and on economic matters — especially free-trade votes, where he joined the Wisconsin Democrat in opposing wrongheaded agreements that were proposed by both Republican and Democratic presidents.
As the mayor of Milwaukee since 2004, he has built a record as a pragmatic urban leader. Some of his particular positions — with regard to control of the Milwaukee schools and union contract negotiations — have disappointed progressives. But his record is generally that of a humane and effective big-city executive. His recent battles with the Walker administration over the governor’s diversion of federal mortgage relief money away from hard-pressed neighborhoods showed Barrett at his best. In fact, it reminded a lot of Wisconsinites of why they wanted this guy to be their governor.
2. Scott Walker Has Promoted a Reactionary “Divide and Conquer” Agenda – Coming into office with the promise to create 250,000 new jobs, Wisconsin under Walker was instead the only state to have a statistically significant job loss with 23,900 jobs disappearing between March 2011 and March 2012. That poor performance is likely because Walker was too busy pushing an ideological agenda that is straight out of the right-wing playbook. Walker’s tenure to date, in conjunction with a GOP-controlled General Assembly has led to, among other things, a voter ID law designed to suppress voting among students, the elderly, the poor and others; repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which helped prevent gender wage discrimination; promoted and signed a budget cutting education funding by $1.85 billion while giving corporations another $137 million in tax cuts; and eliminated the right of public employees to collectively bargain over their wages, benefits, and working conditions.
It has recently been revealed that Walker’s initial attacks on public employee unions were just the first stage in an effort to turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work-for-less state through a “divide and conquer” strategy. In a video of Walker speaking with billionaire Diana Hendricks (who later donated more than $500,000 to Walker), Walker made clear that this strategy was designed to both undermine unions and to turn Wisconsin into a red state. It is also clear that Republicans in the state legislature want to go further and pass a right-to-work for less law. If you think Walker has been bad his first two years in office, he would almost certainly be worse were he to win the recall election
3. Scott Walker is Doing the Bidding of Out-of-State Billionaires and Millionaires – the agenda being pursued by Walker is similar to the reactionary agenda being pursued by GOP Governors in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and other states. And the reason for that, is that these Governors are all being funded by folks like the Koch Brothers, and assisted by corporate right-wing groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”). With regards to Walker, he has received 74% of his funding from out-of-state, including $1.3 million from attendees of a Koch Brother-organized summit of right-wing fundraisers, $250,000 from Sheldon Adelson, who was previously the primary financier of Newt Gingrich’s Presidential run, and $104,600 from Foster Friess, who became infamous when he explained that birth control should involved women holding aspirin between their knees. In addition, the Koch-brother funded , has already spent $1.5 million on behalf of Walker, while the Republican Governor’s Association has spent $3 million trying to support Walker after receiving a $1 million check form David Koch. It is clear that Walker has and would continue to answer to out-of-state billionaires and millionaires rather than Wisconsinites, if he were to win the recall.