I thought I would be bored with the Democratic race for governor in the recall election this spring--but the entrance of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett makes things far more interesting. I anticipated debates featuring answers like "I think Scott Walker is bad." (applause from the audience). "I think Scott Walker is really bad" (louder applause). "Well, I think Scott Walker is really, really bad" (wild applause). But now it's entirely possible that the unions that drove the recall fever the last two years could be hoist upon their own petards (to steal a line from the late, great Howard Cosell)--and that should make for great theater.
The large, public sector unions do not like Tom Barrett. He committed the great sin of using the changes in collective bargaining included in Act 10 to alter Milwaukee city employee's benefits and pensions--thereby allowing him to propose the smallest property tax increase in his entire term as Mayor. He also cheesed off WEAC by trying to take away control of the horrible, failing Milwaukee Schools from their endorsed School Board members.
The big problem for the unions is that more voters like Tom Barrett than Kathleen Falk--who has gone "all in" by basically running on a "whatever these unions tell me to say and do, I will say and do" platform. Every poll conducted so far show Barrett losing to Walker by less than Falk would lose to the Governor. The unions are also taking a hit from the Democratic leadership--who are flocking to endorse Barrett's campaign--realizing that looking like puppets for organized labor is not good for long-term business. It's almost like the Party is saying "Thank you, comrades for your hard work to force this recall--now we are going to run our guy again--so you can take it or leave it."
Dems are talking about unity and about how "anyone but Walker" is still a sellable campaign rallying cry--but just how passionate will that base be in a race where the general public might just have something better to do on a beautiful June day than vote?
Republicans shouldn't laugh too hard at the Democratic Civil War. They are looking at a "hold your nose" candidate, whose odds of winning in the November Presidential election seem to be getting dimmer every week. Perhaps if the Religious Right would stop trying to drive the GOP train off the tracks with their unpopular social agenda, the fiscal conservatives could get an electable candidate out there to fix the real problems in this country.