This is a fight of the sore-loser Left's choosing, remember -- and it's one I've been begging them to pick since day one. With Wisconsin's reckoning slated for two weeks from today, the recriminations among flustered Democrats are already flying:
The election has taken on significance beyond Wisconsin state politics: Organized labor sees the battle as a major stand against GOP efforts to scale back collective-bargaining rights for public-sector workers, as Mr. Walker did after taking office in 2011. Some Democrats now fear mobilizing Republicans to battle the recall could carry over to help the party—and Republican Mitt Romney—in November's presidential election...The Democratic National Committee and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign have emphasized their commitment to bolstering Mr. Barrett's campaign. They have offered help with volunteers and get-out-the-vote efforts, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz plans to travel to Wisconsin for a fundraiser with Mr. Barrett. But the national party turned down Wisconsin Democrats' request for $500,000, one party official said. For the left-leaning groups that have spent months trying to oust Mr. Walker, a loss would be a deflating end to a process that began with unions and their allies gathering more than 900,000 signatures to force a recall.
Top Democrats now say that when labor groups first raised the specter of a recall, the party's officials urged their allies in Wisconsin to reconsider. "We told them it was a bad, bad, bad idea," one Democratic official said. A union official said both the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign expressed reservations. "I don't know that anyone was enthusiastic about it over there," the union official said. Party leaders also counseled against pouring money into a contested primary ahead of the recall election, the Democratic official said. Mr. Barca, the Wisconsin Assembly minority leader, said he had heard rumblings about the DNC's displeasure with the recall. But Wisconsin residents weren't seeking approval from Washington, he said.
If Walker prevails, the Democrats are pre-telegraphing their ready-made excuse: Money.
Democrats say they haven't come close to matching the $25 million that the Wisconsin governor has raised. Mr. Barrett entered the race late and faced a primary election, during which labor-backed groups spent more than $5 million supporting a candidate they preferred, only to see her lose. By a late April filing date, Mr. Barrett had raised $831,000. "It feels like David vs. Goliath on the money front," said Peter Barca, the Democratic leader in Wisconsin's State Assembly, who said he was optimistic nonetheless about his party's chances.
Hey, maybe you guys should have agreed on a consensus candidate, rather than squandering millions on a contested primary, prior to the do-over election that you demanded. Your biggest problem isn't fundraising, Democrats; it's that a majority of Wisconsinites agree with Gov. Walker's reforms. I know that's a bitter pill to swallow at the moment, but it's the truth. Despite the governor's favorable poll position, Weekly Standard editor and Badger State native Stephen Hayes quotes Walker as cautioning Republicans against complacency as the big day draws near:
Speaking to volunteers that afternoon at a Walker “victory center” in Waukesha, the governor acknowledges the new polls and his impressive showing in the primary and offers his supporters a word of caution. “Do not let apathy be the thing that defeats us on June 5,” he says, urging the volunteers to keep up their efforts. “There are a lot of hardworking taxpayers in this state who for the past 15, 16 months have been sitting on their hands and saying, ‘You know, I don’t need a bullhorn, I don’t need a protest sign, I can let my words be heard in the election, at the ballot box.’ We just need to make sure that all those voices show up on June 5.”
...A Barrett victory would establish a dangerous precedent. If the Democrats succeed in recalling a governor on policy differences, not malfeasance, the Republicans will likely respond in kind. “That’s why the recalls are such a joke,” says Walker. “That’s why putting the mayor in would be so ridiculous. In the next 12 months are we going to go through the same thing all over again? If we win, the lieutenant governor wins, if the senators win—I’ve got to believe that effectively puts an end to recalls in this state. If we lose, it becomes recall ping-pong. Back-and-forth and back-and-forth.”
Hayes succinctly states why Barrett and the organized Left is struggling so mightily to shift public opinion against the incumbent:
By virtually every objective measure, Walker has been an extraordinarily successful governor. In just 16 months, the state has erased a $3.6 billion budget deficit, and according to figures released this month by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, it will have a $154.5 million surplus on June 30, 2013. Property taxes, which had risen by more than 40 percent since 1998, are down for the first time in years. The unemployment rate is down from 7.7 percent when Walker took office in January 2011 to 6.7 percent in April 2012. Last week, the state’s Department of Workforce Development released numbers showing that Wisconsin had gained some 23,000 jobs in 2011—correcting a misleading earlier report suggesting the state had lost more than 30,000 jobs over the same period. The subjective measures look good for Walker, too. On the stump, Walker is fond of citing Chief Executive magazine, which had ranked Wisconsin as the 41st-best state for business in 2010 and now ranks it 20th. Walker also points to a survey by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce that found only 10 percent of business owners thought the state was headed in the right direction in 2010, while an eye-popping 94 percent think so today.
Even the liberal Milwaukee Journal Sentinel realizes the recall push is completely unwarranted. Faced with this cascade of good news, Wisconsin Democrats have resorted to a series of political misdirection gambits, all of which have fallen flat. And as they are wont to do, they've also been lying. Reason TV examined three of their most misleading claims against Walker:
It's crunch time in Wisconsin; the aftershocks of the June 5th election will reverberate across the country. Let's close the deal.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography