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Wisconsin Votes In Recall Primary

Tomorrow, Wisconsinites head to the voting booths for the primary election to determine who will face off in the high profile gubernatorial recall. Governor Scott Walker faces little competition from within the Republican Party but will face strong opposition from angry, energized Democrats in the general.

Ahead of the primary voting, Via Meadia checked the odds at Intrade, a nifty prediction/betting site. In the upper sixties last week, Walker’s chance of winning — according to the Intrade ‘investors’ — was down in the middle fifties at its low and is now creeping back up towards 60.  (see chart here)

But tomorrow’s vote is less about Walker than his challengers; there is an active contest among Democrats to stand against him. Leading in the polls is Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee. Barrett lost the Wisconsin governor’s race to Walker by 5 percentage points in 2010. Behind him is Kathleen Falk, formerly County Executive of Dane County. Both are campaigning on a pro-union, anti-Walker platform, and Barrett is heavily favored to win the primary.

The general election is scheduled for June 5; this could be the biggest contest in American politics until next November. Falk is seen as the more pro-union and generally more liberal of the two Democratic candidates; Barrett has tangled with public sector unions as mayor of Milwaukee. In 2010 Barrett lost to Walker; the likely rematch will be a test not only of how effective an all out labor mobilization campaign is in what historically has been one of the most pro-union states in the country. It will also provide some insight into the dynamics this fall, when many of the same interest groups and donors pumping money into Wisconsin will be helping to drive the national race.

This is a race worth watching.


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  • david

    If you believe InTrade, Barrett is a 19:1 favorite over Falk right now. This race has all the drama of betting on a sunrise.

    I will say, my local political scientist who pays attention to these things thinks that Walker-Barrett is a coin toss. I’m more inclined to believe the gambling line, tho.

    Also worth noting that UW-Madison has adjourned for the summer by June 5. If the Demos could have kept it in their pants until fall, I think I’d like their chances better.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Today’s election is about whether Wisconsin’s Democrats want to sustain the Blue Model or whether they are ready to repudiate it. And if they repudiate it, as seems likely, organized labor will have to reconcile itself to a very difficult reality. The post election Unity rally has been cancelled by the Democrat Party. This cannot bode well for either the unions or the Democrats.

    Likewise, conservatives and libertarians have to be disappointed in the success of Romney and the Republican establishment. Perhaps this represents both parties shedding their ideological engines in order to reach a consensus acceptable to the middle. Or perhaps the parties are next for tectonic shifts as well.

  • Mark Michael

    I’ve just read that some Republican primary voters plan to cross over and vote for Kathleen Falk, since she would be the weaker candidate against Walker. I suspect that’s too clever by half for most R voters. They need to make sure that Walker gets enough votes to beat any fringe R candidates that might happen to be on the ballot.

    Of course, given the intensity of the political fight in Wisconsin for that last year + 3 months, that kind of scheming hardly is beyond the ken of the primary-class R voter! He’s no dummy, now.

  • JMock

    A race worth watching is an understatment IMO…if Walker Loses in June I will consider us all to be ungovernable.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The Labor Gangs are all back on their heels, and fighting a defensive fight to retain all their extorted benefits and perks. Any wins they get in the next few years are only to retain the status quo, if you can call that winning. I expect the unjustified monopoly powers enjoyed by the Labor Gangs will soon be a thing of the past, just as the rest of the inefficient Blue Model will go into the dust bin of history eventually as well.

  • Mark Michael

    Well, Barrett beat Falk decisively in the D primary yesterday. So lots of union dollars went up in smoke with Falk’s loss. Barrett angered the Milwaukee-area government unions because he refused to support their wage demands while he was mayor (I think it was – some local exec position). In fact, I believe he’s already taken advantage of Gov. Walker and the R’s new Act 10 law and used it to save Milwaukee County money! In other words, the primary reason that the unions pushed for the Walker recall got sidelined with the loss of Falk. His campaign ads don’t discuss unions, but rather the economy as I understand.

    If Barrett defeats Walker for Gov. come June 5th, we’ll have to see what he does as governor. I think at least one of the houses of the legislature will remain in the hands of the R’s. I assume those R’s would block any attempt to repeal Act 10. (A governor can veto things, but he can’t make laws. Well, he can use executive orders within certain areas, but I’m not sure how much Barrett could do as a new governor that way. Or would even want to.)

    Having said that, I suspect (hope!) that Walker retains the governorship. If he doesn’t it will send a bad signal to the other “blue” states around the country: resistance isn’t totally futile! The better message is the opposite.

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