I was doing a story yesterday about State Senator Kathleen Vinehout being asked about running for Governor in 2018 when I looked on-line to see if she really is considered to be a Democratic front-runner. That research took me to an article from last January in the Isthmus--the free, liberal newspaper in Madison (as opposed to the subscription-based liberal newspapers in Madison) that profiled the "Six Democrats that could challenge Scott Walker in 2018". I don't know if the Isthmus was planning on re-visiting that list after last week's election debacle--but if they do, they aren't going to like what they find.
Number One on the list is State Senator Jennifer Schilling of La Crosse--who is also the Senate minority leader. Schillling won her re-election bid by just 58-votes last week over a Republican opponent she beat rather handily in the 2011 recalls. There will likely be a recount in that race starting next week. Not exactly the kind of momentum that leads to a statewide challenge against Governor Walker.
Number Two on the list is Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson--who is a former Assembly Majority leader as well. Nelson just got soundly trounced in a Congressional race that many across the country thought would be competitive. And he didn't even win Outagamie County!! Like Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, Nelson may want to consider sticking to "non-partisan" races.
Number Three among "Walker Challengers" is Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. Parisi is another former state lawmaker who found a more comfortable position in county government. He would do well in a race against Walker in Dane County--but what Democrat wouldn't? And the term "Dane County Executive" won't fire up the outstate voters who will see him as an over-the-top liberal.
Number Four in the Isthmus list is Senator Vinehout. However, she ran for the Democratic nomination in the recall election and lost to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and she was forced to drop out of the primary in 2014 against Mary Burke because of a car accident--so do voters rally behind a two-time loser already?
Number Five on the list was State Senator Julie Lassa of Stevens Point--who just lost her re-election bid last Tuesday. That pretty much ends that challenge to Governor Walker.
And Number Six is Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. She who sang about the end of days for Governor Walker two years ago--before he won again. Moore also failed to rally any constituent support for Hillary Clinton last week--which calls into question her ability to run it up enough against Walker in the City of Milwaukee to offset a severe lack of support across the rest of the state.
As this article proved, a lot can change in politics in less than a year--and perhaps a serious challenger to Governor Walker could emerge within the Democratic Party before the end of next year. But right now--I doubt he and his strategists are losing much sleep.