(Update – 5/25/12 – Polls released since this post was initially written show that the Tom Barrett’s campaign for Governor is now a dead heat and Barrett made a compelling case in support of his campaign and against Scott Walker in the first debate on Friday evening. At the same time, the “John Doe” probe of whether people in Scott Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County Executive used taxpayer money to do political work appears to be getting closer to Walker himself. All of this makes even clearer that turning out the progressive vote is the key to electing Barrett and recalling Walker on June 5).
On Tuesday, June 5, voters in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to elect as Governor Tom Barrett, the pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-women’s rights, pro-public education, and pro-environment Mayor of Milwaukee who fits in Wisconsin’s proud tradition of honest, progressive government. This opportunity comes after approximately 1 million Wisconsin voters signed a petition to recall the current GOP Governor, Scott Walker, whose divisive attacks on public employees, attempt to restrict voting rights, and cronyism triggered a groundswell of protest and opposition throughout the state. The resulting recall efforts have already achieved a lot, including ending the conservative majority in the State Senate, but now is the time to restore Wisconsin’s progressive tradition by electing Barrett for Governor, Mahlon Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor, and the Democratic State Senate recall candidates.
Recent polls have suggested that Walker has a small, 50-45%, lead over Barrett. But there are two important points that show that such small lead can be overcome by Barrett. First, the polls have barely budged since March, despite Walker having a 25 to 1 funding advantage. This suggests that the flood of mainly out-of-state money trying to prop up Walker can be defeated. Second is that Walker’s narrow lead results from not from higher overall support, but from a higher level of enthusiasm among Republicans than Democrats. As explained recently in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
There are signs Walker is benefiting from an enthusiasm gap. In a new Marquette poll, 91% of Republicans said they were absolutely certain to vote in the June recall election, compared to 83% of Democrats. In Marquette’s last three polls, Republicans have expressed more certainty about voting in June than Democrats
Another clue about intensity can be found in the partisan makeup of voters in recent surveys. In a typical Wisconsin poll, Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans. But in a poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic survey firm, Republicans out-numbered Democrats 35% to 28% (with independents at 37%).
This helps explain Walker’s 50% to 45% lead over Barrett in the PPP poll taken May 11-13. Walker actually trailed Barrett slightly among independents in the poll (42% to 49%), but with Republicans outnumbering Democrats — and 90% of voters in both parties voting along party lines — Walker led overall.
What these numbers suggests is that the Barrett can win the recall election so long as our voters get as enthusiastic as the Republicans are. In other words, now is the time to get fired up about sending a message that Walker’s divisive, Koch Brothers’ agenda is not going to prevail in Wisconsin. Here are three reasons to get enthusiastic about voting for Tom Barrett to recall Scott Walker on June 5:
1. Barrett Would Restore Wisconsin’s Progressive Tradition – As John Nichols has explained at The Capitol Times:
Barrett’s congressional record was that of a progressive who voted against George Bush’s war with Iraq; who broke with his party leadership to oppose the Patriot Act; and who was a champion of public education and a defender of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. His record closely paralleled that of former Sen. Russ Feingold on those issues and on economic matters — especially free-trade votes, where he joined the Wisconsin Democrat in opposing wrongheaded agreements that were proposed by both Republican and Democratic presidents.
As the mayor of Milwaukee since 2004, he has built a record as a pragmatic urban leader. Some of his particular positions — with regard to control of the Milwaukee schools and union contract negotiations — have disappointed progressives. But his record is generally that of a humane and effective big-city executive. His recent battles with the Walker administration over the governor’s diversion of federal mortgage relief money away from hard-pressed neighborhoods showed Barrett at his best. In fact, it reminded a lot of Wisconsinites of why they wanted this guy to be their governor.