Wisconsin, Obama And Poor Tom

As the story goes, in 2009, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was reluctant to run for governor of Wisconsin. After months of contemplation and after some timely encouragement from the Obama camp, Barrett decided to go for it. He lost that election to Scott Walker and returned to Milwaukee. Now, just two short years later, Barrett faces Walker again with the governor’s mansion as the prize.

During Wisconsin’s Democratic primary, although his opponent, Kathleen Falk, had the backing of unions, it was thought that Barrett, rather than Falk, had the best chance of beating Walker. And as the Barrett win became more and more apparent, unions backed off and put their knives away. This allowed Barrett to end up not only victorious, but unhurt. So it seemed Democrats got their wish and they hit the airwaves with all the standard talking points. But rah-rah can only carry Barrett so far. The reality is he has some flaws.

Listen to Wisconsin residents and you’ll hear comments like Milwaukee has high unemployment and is losing jobs, the city can’t attract businesses, crime is high, the dropout rate for schools is at a scary level and perhaps most damaging, Barrett has had time to make changes (he’s been Mayor since 2004). Yet the city flounders. Even a bright spot for Barrett, getting the city budget under control, is bitter-sweet because it was Walker’s changes in collective-bargaining that helped make it happen.

But the most glaring drawback to Barrett is that he has already lost a gubernatorial race to Walker — after Obama and his folks gave him the nudge, remember? The two did this tango back in 2010 and Walker was the last dancer dancing, with 52% of the vote. Further, Walker’s campaign platform then was aggressive and talked up serious reform. Wisconsin residents grooved on his message and gave Walker the thumbs up at the polls. Are we to assume that outlook has changed? Democrats think so. But are they right?

Besides the Walker-Barrett match-up, there has already been a recall dust-up in Wisconsin. It occurred in August 2011, and included six Republicans. Of the six, two were bumped and four prevailed. What did it mean? Not much. Republicans kept control so ultimately it was a lot of posturing and noise for no substantial change. However, it did create a lot of griping among the commoners. It makes sense, Walker was legally elected — we did this already, what’s all this re-do stuff? And when the citizens found out it was ‘special-interests’ behind the recall the griping turned to resentment. Remember, unions created this mess. Once they realized Walker was serious about his aggressive reforms, they went into action. They collected some 900,000 signatures to force the recall votes. But just because you sign a petition doesn’t mean you’ll cast a vote. And that brings us to perhaps the most revealing dynamic of this political showdown.

The Wisconsin recall primaries generated some startling results that are conveniently ignored by lefties when they present their views on the Walker recall. Yes, Barrett in his win over Falk had a very healthy turnout. It’s understandable since Democrats had to decide who was going to take on Walker. Pundits predicted as much. But what they didn’t predict, what no one saw coming, was the magnitude of support that Walker received. Walker collected 280,000 more votes than Romney did in the Wisconsin presidential primary. Further, he not only collected more votes than Barrett did (with motivated voters), he collected more votes than Barrett and Kathleen Falk combined. Uh-oh, poor Tom.

The Wisconsin-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “The astonishing number of votes Gov. Scott Walker generated in an uncompetitive GOP primary, more votes than Barrett and Falk combined and almost as many as were cast for all the candidates on the Democratic side. It’s just not normal in politics for a major incumbent with token opposition to generate turnout on a par with a heavily contested race in the other party.”

This wasn’t just some diehard Republicans going to vote in support of Walker. This was the citizenry of Wisconsin issuing a statement to unions, Democrats and to the country — in Wisconsin, the people are in charge, we voted Walker in and he’s going to stay there.

And, although lefties don’t mention it on TV, they heard the message. Sure, at the very end there was appearances made by the standard Democratic pitchmen but national money to support poor Tom never arrived. Last Friday, Obama had six fundraisers in neighboring states and never stopped by for a visit. In late May, Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, made a personal appearance but she too forgot the checkbook. Request after request from Wisconsin Democrats fell on deaf ears in Washington. Obviously, Obama has his own spending priorities.

So, ironically, the same man that was once pushed and prodded by Obama to run for governor now finds himself cut off from the family funds. Abandoned and alone, hobbled by his own party, poor Tom limps into the recall election to face the wrath of a highly motivated and apparently very irritated citizenry. All this must have poor Tom asking himself, with friends like Obama, who needs enemies.

Follow I.M. Citizen at IMCitizen.net

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