CNN projects: Milwaukee mayor to face Walker in Wisconsin recall election
May 8th, 2012
10:01 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN projects: Milwaukee mayor to face Walker in Wisconsin recall election

(CNN) – Tom Barrett, the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, will face embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the state's June 5th recall election. Barrett topped Democratic rivals in a primary Tuesday, CNN projected.

This isn't the first time Barrett has been matched against Walker – the two faced off in a 2010 gubernatorial election. Wisconsinites, along with many other Americans voting that year, went for the Republican in that election, choosing Walker over Barrett by 6 percentage points.

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"Barrett is attractive for several reasons, but the main one seems to be his electability," said Barry Burden, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin-Madison. "He lost to Walker in the 2010 election, but that was a year when Republicans did well across the board. Many Democrats believe that he has a much better shot this time around. In addition, he is not from Madison or tightly linked with organized labor, so he might be viewed more favorably by swing voters."

In 2011, Walker made a controversial decision to cut most collective bargaining rights for state employees, a move that sparked massive outcry from labor unions and Democrats. Massive protests erupted in the state capitol building in Madison, causing disruption to state business and bringing national attention to the standoff.

Unions argued that collective bargaining - a process of negotiations meant to regulate working conditions - has served to protect their wages and health care, as well as enforce workplace safety and serve as a means to arbitrate employee grievances.

Walker, along with other supporters of the measure, asserted union contracts constrain efforts to address Wisconsin's swelling deficit.

In January, Democrats submitted more than a million signatures to Wisconsin's elections board, and June 5 was set as the date for the recall election. This is the first time in Wisconsin's history that a governor has faced recall. The only two successful gubernatorial recalls in United States history came in 2003, when Californians recalled Gov. Gray Davis, and in 1921, when North Dakota voters recalled Gov. Lynn Frazier.

In his campaign, Barrett used Walker's controversial decision on collective bargaining to rally Democrats. In one campaign ad, he claimed the governor had created a "civil war in Wisconsin."

"Scott Walker has divided our state," Barrett said in the ad. "And while he's pursued his ideological agenda, Wisconsin has lost more jobs that any state in the country. We can't afford to have a governor who says 'my way or the highway.'"

On Tuesday, Walker's campaign manager Dan Blum released a statement responding to Barrett's win.

"As Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett enters the general election in his soon to be third statewide losing campaign, he will surely find that his record of raising taxes and promises to continue to do so will not resonate with voters," Blum wrote.

He continued: "While Governor Walker's term has seen unemployment drop to its lowest rate since 2008, unemployment under Tom Barrett has risen more than 28%. Rather than Tom Barrett's path of taking Wisconsin back to the days of billion-dollar deficits, double-digit tax increases and record job loss, we are confident that voters will choose to stand with Governor Walker and move Wisconsin forward."

A poll released May 2 showed Barrett narrowly edging Walker among registered voters by one percentage point, with 47% to Walker's 46%. Among likely voters, however, the results flipped. Walker pulled ahead by one percentage point with 48% to Barrett's 47%, according to the poll. Both margins fell within the sampling error.

With less than a month until the recall election, Barrett faces a steep fundraising deficit against Walker, who has raised substantially more than the Democrat.

"The Democratic nominee faces a severe financial challenge," Burden said. "Walker has raised about $25 million while Barrett and [Democratic candidate] Falk each raised about $1 million. The Democrats will need a lot of outside financial help or a perfect ground game to make up the difference."

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Filed under: Wisconsin
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. wisconsin101

    The fight is on. looking at the voting numbers, it is one even battle. I am surprised the republician turnout was as high as it was. I don't think the dems should be declaring any victory for I think the gop turnout will be a lot higher next month

    May 8, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Wisconsin has an opportunity to show the Tea Party radicals that America still cares about workers, teachers, and the middle class. Throw Walker out and return to a spirit of compromise and progress.

    May 8, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. Edwin

    Let's see - Walker cut pensions because they were good benefits, but somehow forgot to mention that pay ranks close to the bottom for public teachers (second worst state in the country). The only reason good teachers stayed around before was because of the benefits. Thanks to his cuts, the best 20% of our teachers retired or left, gutting the quality of education in the state for the next decade or two. He also raised class sizes - my daughter's first grade class will have more than 40 students, with only one teacher and NO aides (because he slashed the education budget to pay for tax breaks for specific companies that supported his campaign).

    Walker did not create the budget crisis, but he made the long-term recovery prospects in Wisconsin worse. With poorer education for its citizens, 1/3 of the money gone for counties, and drastic rises in utility (because he sold the rights to personal allies), the state faces a decade or more of digging out, thanks to Walker.

    May 8, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. SickOfIt

    Come on Democrats, give it up. You lost the election, why spend millions of tax payer dollars to lose again? Oh no, Teachers actually have to pay for part of their retirement and health care? Wait, they have to negotiate their own, individual, employment contract? Walker must be the devil. Give it up, times are tough all over, listen to your "Messiah" and PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE. Go Walker! Keep doing what your doing, it's what this state needs!

    May 9, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  5. SickOfIt

    Edwin, it sounds like your daughter's school district may be the problem. What Walker did was create an opportunity for local School Districts to negotiate contract where the talent was most needed, not based on who has been teaching the longest. Maybe it was time for your "best 20% of teachers" to go. The teachers I had in High School are still teaching 20+ years later...things have changed. Move on. I have two children in elementary school in a small town, less than 10,000 people. No class in our district has more than 25 kids in the class. Again, sounds like your school district has the problems, and now (thanks to Walker) they have the power to negotiate themselves out of the problem.

    May 9, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  6. Concerned Citizen

    What a waste of taxpayer dollars. The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves, if they wished to unseat him they should have waited until his term was up and he was running for reelection. I would vote for Walker as a vote against the recall. Public employees pensions and salaries are out of whack with the private sector, his initiative to rein in the public sector (whose salaries are paid from YOUR TAXES) was a reasonable first step to try to stem the fiscal bleeding.

    May 9, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  7. Bob

    Walker should be in jail. They have him on tape talking about illegal activities like vote fixing, cronyism, taking bribes, etc. when he thought the was talking to one of his Koch overlords. At the very least, he should be run out of office for ethics violations.

    May 9, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  8. jim wilson

    Anonymous "hit the nail on the head"! Like every scum repub they suck all the money out of the middle class, pocket their lunch to work. Every rep has handed a dem a fiscal mess for them to clean up. my slogan is the repubs have made stealing a fine art while the dems are starting to put the pieces together.

    May 9, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  9. mgc6288

    The problem with being a liberal is that they always run out of spending other people's money. Real embarrassing when someone has to require someone else to be financially responsible for them. Man up and pay your own taxes.

    May 9, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  10. Raul

    I find it amazing how you leftist supporters argue for the people when raising taxes and taking ownership of the people's hard earned pay to support inefficient bloated bueauracracies. You blame the koch bros for campain kick backs but the Koch bros as well as a variety of other business have added more value with economic activity than any union has.

    May 9, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. Dave in Madison

    Bill in Appleton – How about creating 125,000 jobs over the last two years instead of the 5,900 Walker is responsible for? He is WAY off pace for his goal of 250,000. He's nothing but a snake selling his own snake-oil wrapped up in an old brown lunch bag. Also, if Walker has any money left in his CRIMINAL DEFENSE FUND after the "John Doe" investigation into his office while he was Milwaukee County Exec. is complete, I'm sure he could donate it to the state to help reduce the deficit. Even from jail.

    May 9, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  12. Jack Kennedy

    so are the voters going to go with the real American and save their state from the greek type mooches/socialists or are they going to vote like greece and go for more mooching and rich salaries and pensions for the govt workers to be paid by the taxpayers

    Wisconsin is going to get one chance to survive and not be greece/spain/portugal/california................are they going to pull through?

    May 9, 2012 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
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