GOP takes lead in WI governor race, unions hardest hit; Update: PPP poll disaster for Feingold tomorrow?

Russ Feingold isn’t the only Democrat in Wisconsin with big problems.  The latest Rasmussen poll shows Republican Scott Walker taking an eight-point lead over Democrat Tom Barrett in the gubernatorial race, 51/43, and Wisconsin potentially slipping away from Democrats as a safe state for 2012:

Following his Tuesday Republican Primary win, Scott Walker bounces to his best showing yet in the Wisconsin governor’s race.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Wisconsin, including leaners, finds Walker earning 51% support. His Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, picks up 43% of the vote.  Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. …

Eighty-four percent (84%) of Walker supporters say they have already made up their minds how they will vote in November, as have 80% of Barrett’s backers.

The polling in Wisconsin has not yet fallen to levels seen in Ohio, but it has started to resemble Pennsylvania, another heartland Democratic state that appears to be turning red in 2010.  Both states are critical to Democratic Party plans to hold the White House in 2012, let alone hold enough seats in Congress to control the agenda.  Yet both states feature top-of-ticket races in 2010 that threaten to put Republicans in charge and position their states for a GOP switch if Barack Obama runs for office again.  At the moment, Obama’s only 49/49 in a state he carried easily in 2008 and which has gone for Democrats since Reagan.

This also has down-ticket implications in 2010.  Democrats don’t want to lose David Obey’s old seat after his retirement to Sean Duffy.  If the top of the ticket is slipping this badly, though, the rest of the Democrats on the ticket are in for a long and unpleasant Election Night, and Duffy is probably in the best position in all of the contested races in Wisconsin.

That’s probably why the unions are collaborating with Barrett’s team to conduct an attack campaign on Walker.  Daniel Bice at the Journal-Sentinel reports that the unions haven’t exactly made it a secret, either:

Organized labor is hatching a plan to use prominent Democratic officials and TV ads to pummel Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker over the O’Donnell Park garage accident to try to keep him from being elected governor.

So says a local union official with loose lips who was secretly recorded yakking away outside an east side bar earlier this month. `

Here’s what he said everyone can expect in the next six weeks:

TV spots will hit Walker for neglecting county facilities; supervisors will continue to call for an independent investigation of O’Donnell Park; Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, will push legislation on the subject; and Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration may let state engineers come in to inspect the county facility.

“I’m kind of at the center of a maelstrom right now in terms of kicking Scott Walker’s (expletive),” said John-david Morgan, a lobbyist and spokesman for the Service Employees International Local 1, on Sept. 10 outside the Y-Not II tavern on E. Lyon St. “I’ve been kicking Scott Walker’s (expletive) for two months now. We’ve been on TV; we’ve done all kinds of stuff.”

Unfortunately for Morgan, he was talking to a Walker campaign staffer, who recorded the entire 15-minute conversation on his cell phone.  The tape has Morgan bragging that the union has county supervisors lined up to do the dirty work.  Morgan also called local TV stations his “willing partners” in attacking Republicans, a bon mot that should get lots of attention, and not just in Wisconsin.  In essence, Morgan laid out a plan to politicize a fatal accident and blame Walker for the death as a means of running interference for Barrett.

The best part?  Morgan used to write for the Journal-Sentinel as a community reporter.  He later complained about being recorded, saying he didn’t know it was an interview and that “it wasn’t fair.”  I suppose his friends in the news business might have a few words about fairness after hearing Morgan’s brags on tape.

Update: Markos Moulitsas tweeted this morning that a PPP poll due out tomorrow will show Feingold trailing by double digits due to a “MASSIVE” enthusiasm gap developing in Wisconsin.  Taegan Goddard writes that this will put the Senate back in play for the GOP.  Guy Benson wonders when this seat gets moved to a Likely Republican flip.