The unions have succeeded in putting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recall on the ballot in June, but perhaps less well known is that his running mate Rebecca Kleefisch is included in that recall, along with a handful of legislators. The Republican Lieutenant Governors Association (RLGA) has begun an ad buy in Wisconsin defending Kleefisch’s performance — and necessarily Walker’s as well — by reminding Wisconsin voters that the new administration has made exactly the kind of progress Walker and Kleefisch promised in 2010:
That looks like a pretty strong record of accomplishment — and the budget fix couldn’t have come without the PEU reforms that prompted the recall. If Wisconsin voters undo the 2010 election, it might be the first time in American history that a governor and lieutenant governor got kicked out of office for balancing a budget while cutting taxes and lowering unemployment. It will take some fancy footwork and a united Democratic front to make that sale.
Unfortunately for Democrats and the unions, that’s exactly what they don’t have. TPM covers the internecine food fight being fueled by the unions in Wisconsin:
[Kathleen] Falk picked up the endorsements of two top public employee unions, AFSCME and the teachers union WEAC, as well as many other liberal groups — aided by the fact that she had been involved in the protests and the recall campaign all throughout the previous year.
As soon as Barrett got into the race, on the other hand, AFSCME immediately began going after him — accusing him of being complicit in the passage of Walker’s anti-union legislation. Barrett has feuded with the unions for some time on city issues, and they had attempted to dissuade him from entering the recall campaign. And now, AFSCME has also circulated a YouTube video, which they say they did not create but to agree with, which contained questionably edited audio to give the appearance that Barrett approved of the bill.
Now in response, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the head of a state police union is slamming AFSCME.
“This recall election represents an historic opportunity for Wisconsinites to reclaim this state in favor of a leader who can create jobs, protect our local services and restore the right to have a voice at the bargaining table,” said Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. “For anyone to sink to the level of distorting the information it sends to its own members is shameful, and it creates the kind of internal discord that Scott Walker will need to keep his office.”
AFSCME has retreated a little from its harsh criticism, but not by a lot. Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner predicts a lot of problems for whoever wins the primary:
Obviously, there are always different schools of thought as to whether a tough primary strengthens or weakens a nominee. If the primary merely is really an argument about who is more opposed to Walker, it may not hurt Democrats and could perhaps even help. For instance, if Barrett wins the primary and emerges looking more moderate than Falk – as somebody who is less beholden to unions and more willing to work with the Republican-controlled legislature – it could help with swing voters. But if the primary starts to get more personal and drives up each candidates’ negatives, it may be harder to recover in the mere four weeks before the recall election against Walker.
Indeed — perhaps especially so, considering that the Democrats will have to run against a balanced budget, lower taxes, and more jobs.