If Mary Burke goes on to lose the election for Governor in 4 and a half weeks. Her Democratic supporters will likely say "She was the better candidate, she just ran a bad campaign." And for a change, they will be half-right. As the race enters the home stretch, the Burke campaign has committed a series of probably fatal blunders.
I've already addressed the cut and paste Jobs Plan snafu. But somebody in that campaign should also have been coaching up Burke on how to better handle the questions that would follow about plagiarism. That press conference where Burke did not have a clear (and blame deflecting) answer to "What is your definition of plagiarism then?" just added more fuel to fire. The ad for Governor Scott Walker where Burke initially has the look of someone just caught having sex in a public place and then stammering something nonsensical is the envy of every campaign advertising manager across the country. And given that it will be shown about half-a-million times will drive home its point with the handful of "undecided" voters here in Wisconsin.
Another failure behind the scenes was revealed this week as we learned that the Burke camp did no research into a Neenah man's claim that his daughter decided to take a teaching job in the Twin Cities instead of in the Neenah schools because of Act Ten. No one called the Neenah School District to confirm anything the father said--and eventually, the District asked Burke (in a very public manner--issuing a press release) to stop telling the Neenah story because she didn't have her facts straight. Someone with knowledge of the situation told us at WOSH that the daughter actually has a boyfriend who lives in the Twin Cities area and THAT is why she took the job over there.
Then to add insult to injury, it turns out that the woman's father has convictions on his record for lying to the police and not paying taxes. I'm sure that this man likely did tell Burke early in the campaign--when the candidates are speaking to much smaller groups in more intimate settings--that his daughter left the state because of Act Ten. But someone in the campaign needed to say at that time "hey, let's just double check this before we let Mary start using it in her boilerplate speech." The desperation to have some story about the "negatives" of Act Ten must have overwhelmed the good sense to verify--and avoid the embarrassment caused by having to completely backtrack on yet another major campaign talking point.
Parsing job creation numbers had allowed the Burke campaign to be on the offensive early in the race--but the mis-steps of the past month or so have put them on the defensive. But unlike in football, in politics a great defense doesn't win championships.