Wisconsin is neither blue nor red. Having recently escaped the cess pool that is Illinois to become a cheeze head, I am struck by the upside-downedness of Wisconsin. The people who ought to be conservative voters in every respect seem to be Democrats. Those who would be liberals under normal circumstances have connected the dots between socialism and the poverty it engenders. Unemployed former union members have an almost universal distrust of Big Labor and a healthy scorn for Blue Sky collectivist promises. They’d rather work full time for minimum wages than be unemployed on a picket line. Meanwhile, farmers and big business here seem to be nuttier than Greenpeace. Any good that Walker has accomplished will be quickly undone with a Burke victory. It’s 50-50. Perhaps the difference will be the recent transplants from my former state who will certainly not be pulling the lever for the bicycle babe. One can only hope.
Eliana Johnson provides an outside-Wisconsin view of the governor’s race:
The daughter of Trek Bicycle founder Richard Burke, the woman gunning for Scott Walker’s job, is the scion of a prominent Wisconsin family who’s had the wealth to flit from one career to another.
In an election being litigated primarily on economic issues, Mary Burke has touted her business experience. But it’s the sort of business experience only an heiress could afford: a couple of years spent toiling at a failed start-up company and two stints working for her father. Between her two tours at Trek, Burke spent a couple of years “as a snowboard bum in Colorado.” (That’d be from the Harvard Business School alumni bulletin, not her campaign website.) At Trek, she ran the company’s European division, and has said she increased international sales by a whopping $47 million, but the company denied PolitiFact’s request to verify the number.
The private sector, it turns out, wasn’t really for her. “While I have the business background, I really — how should I say this? — I prefer the work in the public sector,” Burke told Politico in an interview.
By her mid 40s, she’d left to become a philanthropist and told Democratic governor Jim Doyle’s political team when it expressed interest in bringing her aboard — she was eventually appointed to run the state’s Department of Commerce — that she wasn’t sure she wanted to “reenter the full-time work force.” The only elected position Burke has ever held is a seat on the Madison school board. Now, she wants to become governor.
Burke has cited her Harvard MBA and her business savvy as evidence that she has the know-how to revitalize Wisconsin’s economy. So it says something about her candidacy that large portions of her jobs plan — and of several other plans she has released, on subjects such as entrepreneurship, small-business development, and public-private partnerships, where one might expect her to bring her experience to bear — were lifted word for word from those of several other (mostly failed) gubernatorial candidates.
Burke blamed a Harvard-educated consultant for the incident, and he was promptly fired, but she stood by her borrowed plans, telling reporters that Wisconsin need not “reinvent the wheel.” Burke is offering Wisconsin voters public policy recycled by a political consultant — policy rejected by voters in Virginia and Indiana, to boot.
But the race is tight, and Burke’s latest flirtation with a serious career has given her a real shot to unseat one of the GOP’s top presidential contenders. The most recent Marquette University poll has her tied with Walker, 46 all. How did that happen?
That the race is so close is a testament both to Wisconsin’s political polarization and to the fact that, though it has at times looked purple, it remains a blue state. Walker, like his colleagues Sam Brownback, John Kasich, Rick Snyder, and Susana Martínez, among others, was elected in the GOP wave of 2010. Democratic majorities in the Wisconsin state assembly and the state senate were wiped out that year, too, but 2010 proved to be a political outlier. …
Walker rose to national prominence when he succeeded in getting legislation passed to curb the collective-bargaining rights of the state’s public-sector unions, and he caught the attention of top-dollar Republican donors when he beat back a union-led effort to recall his election. As throngs of left-wing protesters rushed the state capitol, he looked like the adult in the room, and he won the recall election by a greater margin than he was elected with in 2010. …
In an election that has centered on the performance of the state’s economy, Walker’s record has been scrutinized. There are things to boast about: Since Walker took office in January of 2011, unemployment has fallen to 5.6 percent from 7.6 percent. It’s half a percentage point below the national average.
But one of the central promises Walker made on the campaign trail in 2010, to usher in the creation of 250,000 private-sector jobs, has come back to haunt him. Even though the state has seen the creation of more than 100,000 jobs on his watch, the unmet campaign promise looms over him, and Burke is leveraging it in her ads. One Wisconsin Republican likened it to the “read my lips” moment that sealed George H. W. Bush’s fate in the 1992 presidential election.
It’s not just victory that matters for Walker, but the margin of victory. In modern times, all of the governors who have gone on to win the nomination of a major party have not been reelected narrowly but have galloped to victory. “Obviously, he’d like to win by more than five points,” Republican strategist O’Connell says. …
Top Republicans are also quick to point out that Walker has qualities that can compensate for his failure to waltz to victory in November. Though he is the top target of unions this cycle, Walker, who doesn’t have a college degree, has tremendous potential appeal to blue-collar voters, who largely supported him in 2010. That’s a group that Republicans, with Mitt Romney as their standard bearer, struggled mightily with in 2012, and it will undoubtedly become a focus in 2016. The son of a Baptist preacher, Walker is also popular among religious conservatives. And he’s one of the few potential GOP nominees with a foot in both the establishment and tea-party camps.
Walker also likes to say this is his third race in four years and, if he wins in November, his primary selling point may be his proven ability to repeatedly win drag-out fights in a left-leaning state.
And what do non-Wisconsin readers think?
- Ah, the idle rich. Reminds me of the Kennedy’s in many respects. Politics is a toy.
- When the author contacted the Trek company to confirm her quoted international sales number, they refused. In my eyes, if Daddy could back up her claims then he would be very boastful about her accomplishments. The unions will vote against Walker as opposed to voting for a qualified candidate. What’s a little plagiarism among friends.
- Was she instrumental in raising international sales at her father’s company? The company’s not saying. Nor will they talk about whether or not she was involved in the outsourcing of production by the company to foreign locations, displacing WI workers. As to her time in the state commerce dept., the record is what the record is as stated by the author. If there were some fantastic program or project that she created while there, I have no doubt it would be blared out to voters by her campaign – but there is none.
- Real business background – Entrepreneur – as in successful startup, not going to work for Daddy.
- I have met her on several occasions. Years ago, in a context having nothing to do with politics. She is an entitled airhead whose position at Trek was a sinecure with neither responsibilities nor regular hours.
- What is wrong with Wisconsin? Scott Walker should be ahead by 20 points just for his record of breaking the hold that public employee unions had on the state. Instead the polls show that an accomplished governor is in a close race with a dilettante socialite with no real ideas other than those she purloined from other losers like herself.
- Two lib cesspools, Milwaukee and Madison, war with an otherwise small town, rural state. Most people in Wisconsin appreciate the constitution and the value of our dwindling lib oppressed freedoms. Burke does not earn any votes based on her record or intellect. Sadly, half our population is composed of idiots who choose socialism over the benefits of freedom.
- It’s pretty clear that she has very little experience at anything and she was chosen by the Ds as a female candidate that they can build an image around who will do their bidding after election, as she is likely to show as much interest in governing as she’s shown for everything else in her life. Government of the union, for the union and by the union will return to WI with a vengeance.
- It’s a safe bet that if she does win the governorship, her first task will be to reward the unions by returning to the rule that if you wanted to work for govt you had to be a member of the union. Expect Wisconsin to resume its descent into irrelevancy that was interrupted by Walker.
- Mary Burke has nothing to offer. She’s just another useless power grabber — one who can’t run her own life too well, but who has a million ideas how we should run ours and wants government power to jam them down our throats. She has been assisted by a Democrat prosecutor who keeps totally bogus charges against Walker plodding through the courts — the Democrats’ favorite ploy (see also Perry, Delay, Hutchinson in Texas). I’m sick of rich little morons who have theirs and seem to think government’s main job should be killing opportunities for the rest of us, not to mention taxing us to death. No creative thinking here, only two ideas: more regulation, more taxes. When Walker won the recall, I had hoped Wisconsin might shake off its liberal fascist tendencies. Come November, we’ll see how strong the totalitarian temptation still is.