I got a news release from Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell asserting that the recall of Gov. Scott Walker is “both historic and heroic.”
It may be dawning on Democrats that the recall of Walker is something else — a failure in progress, like watching a car crash in slow motion.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
With little more than two weeks until Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election, some Democratic and union officials quietly are expressing fears that they have picked a fight they won’t win and that could leave lingering injuries.
The election has taken on significance beyond Wisconsin state politics: Organized labor sees the battle as a major stand against GOP efforts to scale back collective-bargaining rights for public-sector workers, as Mr. Walker did after taking office in 2011. Some Democrats now fear mobilizing Republicans to battle the recall could carry over to help the party—and Republican Mitt Romney—in November’s presidential election. …
For the left-leaning groups that have spent months trying to oust Mr. Walker, a loss would be a deflating end to a process that began with unions and their allies gathering more than 900,000 signatures to force a recall. …
Top Democrats now say that when labor groups first raised the specter of a recall, the party’s officials urged their allies in Wisconsin to reconsider. “We told them it was a bad, bad, bad idea,” one Democratic official said.
A union official said both the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign expressed reservations. “I don’t know that anyone was enthusiastic about it over there,” the union official said.
Party leaders also counseled against pouring money into a contested primary ahead of the recall election, the Democratic official said.
[Rep. Peter] Barca, the Wisconsin Assembly minority leader, said he had heard rumblings about the DNC’s displeasure with the recall. But Wisconsin residents weren’t seeking approval from Washington, he said.
This is where one remembers the line of Will Rogers: “I’m not a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”
Time magazine visited the Solidarity Sing Along:
The members of the Solidarity Sing Along are a microcosm of the anti-Walker movement: passionate about public policy, eager to fight for their values, invested in the community they have forged — and yet, not entirely on the same page. Despite the outpouring of anger at Walker, on an electoral level, the governor’s opponents have struggled to channel the enthusiasm that garnered more than 1 million recall signatures into a successful campaign.
As a result, the campaign to recall Walker is sputtering, and the governor has pulled ahead in the polls with a little over two weeks to go until the June 5 election. “There’s a lot of despair, a lot of anger,” says Chris Reeder, 41, an activist who helps lead the Solidarity Sing Along. “The polls are very scary.”
To begin with, recall proponents could have used a consensus candidate to pit against the incumbent. Tom Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor who will square off against Walker on June 5, was defeated by the governor in 2010 and advocated for some of the same changes to union benefits (including increasing the amount most public employees contribute to their pension and health care costs) as the governor. Barrett’s record of tangling with unions led labor to squander several million dollars on Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, a liberal primary challenger whom Barrett clobbered by nearly 20 points.
Walker moans about the out-of-state union money arrayed against him, but the truth, say Democrats involved in the recall fight, is that labor is tepid about Barrett and depleted by costly battles in Ohio and Indiana. The Milwaukee mayor has relentlessly attacked Walker, which is to be expected in a race that is by nature a referendum on the incumbent, but Barrett has done little to articulate a clear agenda of his own. When Republicans call Barrett a cipher, they aren’t without a point. …
The DNC’s tentativeness about plunging into the contest, which Republicans attribute to fears that a loss would tarnish President Obama’s chances in the state, has irked some local activists, who note that two-thirds of Walker’s $25 million haul came from out of state, while the RNC pledged to go “all in” to protect its imperiled star. “It’s very disheartening,“ Reeder says of the DNC’s absence in the race.
As I predicted months ago, the recall also is draining the coffers of Democrats and their allies in a year when Wisconsin is supposedly a presidential-election swing state, the state will be electing a new U.S. senator, Democrats presumably will be trying to knock off freshman Reps. Sean Duffy (R–Ashland) and Reid Ribble (R–Sherwood) while trying to retain the open seat of Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D–Madison), and there are the Senate recall elections and then the properly scheduled legislative elections this fall.
Three groups of voters are going to vote June 5 — supporters of Walker, opponents of Walker, and those who may not support what Walker did, but don’t believe his actions during his first 17 months in office warrant his recall. It seemed obvious when this ridiculousness began a year ago that the first and last groups probably outnumber the second group. I predict that of the newspapers that decide to opine on the recall, exactly two — The Capital Times and Isthmus, both in the People’s Republic of Madison — will support Tom Barrett. The rest will put themselves in the third group.
It also takes a brain to observe that, even if Barrett wins the recall June 5, Democrats have zero opportunity to seize control of both houses of the Legislature until after the November elections, and that given a 21-seat GOP margin, the Assembly’s shifting from Republican control to Democratic control in 2013 is unlikely.
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post notes the upshot of all this:
All of this bodes well for Walker and ultimately for Republicans on the ballot in November, including Mitt Romney and the eventual U.S. Senate nominee. Really, is Obama’s message any clearer than that of the recall forces? In the meantime, Republicans are organized, energized and well aware that if they can put Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes in Romney’s column, suddenly he’ll have many more options to get to 270 electoral votes.
The Troglopundit has the perfect reaction:
Guess they shoulda thought of that last November, before they set all this crap in motion.
That would require a competently run Democratic Party in Wisconsin, of course.