Unions not happy with Democrats over lack of support in Wisconsin

posted at 9:21 am on May 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

How can you tell that Republicans have the edge in the recall election in Wisconsin, with just ten days to go?  Democrats and unions are already trying to lay blame for a failure.  The Hill reports that union leaders are angry at the DNC and White House for not getting involved in the election, essentially leaving Big Labor twisting in the wind in their biggest political fight in years:

Top union officials are lashing out at Washington Democrats, claiming they haven’t done enough to help them unseat Gov. Scott Walker (R) in Wisconsin’s recall election. …

International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger, acknowledged the DNC’s help on the ground but said a major cash investment would have been worth a lot more.

“I’m very disappointed that the DNC has not seen fit to make a dollar investment,” Schaitberger said. “When you’re facing $25 million or more in super-PAC funds, you need money. The campaign needed funds to get up on the air to fight back. … I think that would have been a good investment going into November.” …

When asked about national Democrats’ support in the recall election, another union official scoffed.

“Labor has always been there for the national Democratic Party. The national Democratic Party should be there for labor in this instance. They’re not,” he said.

They’re warning that unions might repay the abandonment later this year:

A Democratic strategist working for anti-Walker forces warned that union members would be less enthusiastic about working for Obama if he doesn’t step up for them.

“It won’t go unnoticed by labor the extent to which the White House ultimately decides to fight or not fight for working people the final critical days in Wisconsin,” he said. “The White House needs to move beyond being afraid of its own shadow. The Romney campaign has already been foaming at the mouth to pounce if Walker survives. If that isn’t motivation enough for the White House to start doing everything it can to help defeat Scott Walker, it’s hard to know what is.”

Democrats have made it known that they tried to warn the unions against picking this fight in the first place.  By now, it’s too late to do much.  Walker has an overwhelming funding advantage and likely has locked up all of the available media time in Wisconsin.  Obama could show up and do some campaigning on behalf of Tom Barrett, but Obama’s own job approval rating in Wisconsin isn’t exactly sterling at the moment, and tying himself so personally to a likely election loser would be exactly what Mitt Romney wants.

Furthermore, that might expose Obama to some tough questions on a scandal erupting in Milwaukee — where the police union is pretty angry with Barrett after he tried shifting the blame to police officers:

Barrett was on the defense at a news conference Thursday morning in Milwaukee, asserting there was no ill intent in data.

“Of course if the numbers are wrong we will correct them. I think that goes without saying,” Barrett said Thursday. “My concern really goes more to that the attacks on what is essentially the rank-and-file members of the Milwaukee Police Department.”

“You’ve got a governor of the state coming in to attack the Milwaukee Police Department,”Barrett added. “If he attacks the integrity of the Milwaukee Police Department, if he attacks the integrity of the beat cops or the supervisors or the chiefs, I will call him on that.”

Walker, standing before law enforcement officials, countered that the question was not about policing but rather about Barrett taking political credit for numbers that appear to be wrong.  “That’s important information for not only people across the state to know, but particularly for the citizens here in the city of Milwaukee,” Walker said.  “We should be able to question whether that’s an example of failed leadership in the city of Milwaukee.”

Michael Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, said he took no offense by the governor’s comments, and that he did not perceive Walker’s criticisms as an attack on front-line officers.

“I see it as an affront to police officers by the mayor even bringing that up,” he said. “Why the mayor would even suggest that is insulting.”

Barrett’s going to find Wisconsin a very lonely place over the next few days.


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