Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett may hope the third time is the charm. Barrett has already failed in two races for Wisconsin governor. Now he’ll face the same GOP candidate he faced in 2010, current Gov. Scott Walker.
Barrett also lost a primary bid for governor against a fellow Democrat in 2002.
Barrett won the Democrat primary on Tuesday with a lot of help from his stronghold in Milwaukee.
Walker has been under fire since he attempted to do something about the budget shortfall he “inherited” as Dems are wont to say, from a two-term Democrat. MSNBC online news cited an “immediate budget shortfall of $137 million, projected to grow to $3.6 billion by mid-2013.”
Walker proposed changes to employment perks and bargaining rights for state employees. Union leaders immediately launched a “sky-is-falling” campaign that distorted what Walker actually proposed.
His proposals did not affect law enforcement or firefighters. He wanted employees in the state retirement system to contribute 5.8 percent. Right now the taxpayer picks up the whole tab. Media headlines often pushed the 50 percent pension payment meme—what most of the public didn’t know is that the total was only 5.8 percent. In the private sector, it’s a rare employer that pays your whole retirement plan.
Walker also wanted state employees to cover about a tenth of their health insurance premiums—right now they pay about a fifth. The same media described it as doubling their contribution. Most government employees get a far more generous subsidy on that health insurance than private sector workers.
Perhaps the biggest sin Walker made was proposing the unions collect their own dues. Presently Wisconsin, just like every other state, is put in the position of paymaster to unions. The state collects the dough directly from workers’ checks and hands it over to the unions.
I’ve asked repeatedly about this practice—do states recoup a processing fee? Why is a government responsible for acting as paymaster for any outfit? If employees want to join a union (or anything else), they can mail in their dues and unions can send out statements.
Barrett’s a Democrat naturally tied to big labor. When Barrett served in the U.S. House, one scathing editorial said he was in the “back pocket of local labor unions” and that his “credibility as an economist” was “dead.” The writer also said, “You have shown the world that there are U.S. politicians who know little of the free market system or how jobs are created.” The remarks were published in 1993 in The Milwaukee Sentinel.
A cursory stroll through Barrett’s service as congressman turns up standard Democrat lines about taxing the wealthy—the “fair share” meme that organizations of parents and teachers often use in public schools to collect money for extra programs. Not much changes in political ideology.
When he ran in the Dem primary for governor in 2002, Barrett stepped in weeds right off the bat, telling voters he wanted to triple the fee Wisconsin Indians paid for casino rights—to $75 million a year. The head of the Chippewa said, “Tell him I don’t have it.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Sept. 6, 2002]
Democrats pulled out all the stops to recall Walker. Unions brought in out of state members and Dem legislators actually fled the capital, going into hiding so they didn’t have to vote on relevant bills. In January, Labor Union Report noted vast sums of money were spent by the Left:
“In 2011, union bosses and other outside groups spent tens of millions of dollars in a failed attempt to recall six Republican state senators and are spending millions more now trying to recall Scott Walker.”
The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel summed up Tuesday’s vote for Walker as “massive GOP turnout.” The paper said:
“626,538. 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.”
Most political realists know that despite a heady day for an embattled governor assailed for trying to avert fiscal disaster, the GOP better keep that massive turnout energized when Walker faces two-time loser Barrett on June 5.
Meanwhile, media like The Wall Street Journal have pointed out Walker’s “reforms are working.”
One takeaway Dems may not realize—Republicans made note of a recall effort launched in a heated General Election year. Perhaps the GOP should be asking Whom do we want to recall? since a precedent has been set for an obvious political tactic.
Related at The US Report
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/May 9, 2012)
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