It’s Barrett v. Walker
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett handily defeated his Democrat challengers to be the party’s nominee in the June 5 recall election of Scott Walker. Even coming late to the campaign, Barrett grabbed 57 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, and after declaring victory, gave possibly the most fiery campaign speech ever in all his gubernatorial campaign history.
In it he laid out his campaign message of reuniting the state from the civil war that he says Walker and right wing special interest groups have waged on the people of Wisconsin.
“In difficult times we need a leader that will not divide us, but bring us together,” Barrett said. “I will be independent and not beholden to special interests. Scott Walker, instead of staying home and creating jobs, he decided to be a rock star to the right wing interests and raise money talking about how successful he has been going after workers’ rights.
“The message we are sending tonight is that Wisconsin wants a governor who will stay home and create jobs. Too many people are hurting.”
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said the other Democratic candidates, Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout and Douglas LaFollette, all contributed to the overall effort to unseat Walker.
“All have built the foundation for victory June 5 by highlighting the bitter consequences of Scott Walker’s failed policies and the price Wisconsin has paid for his mad pursuit of power,” he said.
As for Falk, Tate said she will continue the fight she helped start with the great recall movement, and that the party is grateful for her continued leadership and example.
Falk, had announced her candidacy even before the recall petitions were filed, but failed to capture majorities in all but a handful of far northern counties. Even Dane County, where Falk served as county executive for 14 years, voted overwhelmingly for Barrett. Falk only received 30 percent in her home county.
In her concession speech, she promised to help the Barrett campaign move forward.
“Now you and I must turn to tomorrow; the healing of Wisconsin will intensify and Gov. Walker must be recalled. I will join Tom and the other candidates and we will renew our commitment to take Wisconsin back.”
Walker easily defeated protest candidate Arthur Kohl-Riggs in his own primary. He accepted renewed battle against Barrett at a campaign party in Republican stronghold Waukesha County. He thanked his supporters for their prayers and votes and asked them to come out for him, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the four incumbent Republican senators facing recall.
“Our reforms have helped lower property taxes on median-priced homes for the first time in 12 years,” he said. “Our reforms have created 15,000 new jobs in the first three months of this year and we’re just getting started putting people back to work.”
“Small business owners’ biggest concern is that things will go backwards on June 5,” Walker added, eluding to one of his campaign slogans: Forward, Walker. Backward, Barrett.
“It’s not about moving backward, but giving young people a chance to move forward. Do we go back to losing 150,000 private sector jobs like we did under Jim Doyle, or do we build on the 15, 000 new jobs and move forward?”
“Do we want to go back to 28 percent unemployment like the City of Milwaukee? Or do we want to go forward with the lowest state unemployment rate since 2008?”
Five other races were also moved forward to the June 5 recall election.
The Democrats had a three-person slate to choose a candidate to run against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, will run against Kleefisch, easily defeating protest candidate Issac Weix and Milwaukee private detective Ira Robbins.
Mitchell received 52 percent of the vote and said in his acceptance speech that he is looking forward to campaigning with Barrett to take back the executive branch.
State Senate recalls
Four state senate seats are also up for recall next month; the opposing Democratic candidates all faced primaries against protest candidates put on the ballot with the blessing of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) is considered by Democrats to be a key force in the passage of Act 10, which trimmed collective bargaining for public employees, cut funding to schools and drastically reduced state aid to those living below the poverty line. He will face Lori Compas, a small business owner from Fort Atkinson. She won her primary over Gary Ellerman, 72 to 28 percent.
Rep. Donna Seidel (D-Wausau) drew 64 percent of the vote in central Wisconsin over Jim Buckly. She will face Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) on June 5th to fill the state senate seat vacated by Republican Pam Galloway.