Thursday, May 3, 2012

Democrats About to Get Swamped in Wisconsin Gubernatorial Recall Race – And They Won’t Know What Hit Them

The Political Game is the Same – The Rules Have Changed

In two months Wisconsin voters will go to the polls and decide whether or not to recall incumbent Gov. Scott Walker.  Actually, that is not correct.  The vote will not be on whether or not Mr. Walker should continue in office until the end of his term.  Instead the vote will be a mid-term election for Governor of Wisconsin to fill out the remaining 2.5 years of Mr. Walker’s first term.  There will be a Democratic candidate and Mr. Walker on the ballot, and voters will select one or the other.

Just getting this election in place has been a monumental achievement of activist citizens.  But that achievement is useless unless Mr. Walker is defeated.  In fact, if he wins he will claim a validation of his policies by the voters, the exact opposite of what his opponents wanted to happen.  And likely win he will.  Why?  Because of the money.  It is almost impossible to comprehend how much money right wing fanatics have raised on behalf of Gov. Walker.

Gov. Scott Walker raised an unprecedented $13.2 million over three months to fight off the recall bid against him, outdistancing his Democratic challengers and driving home the challenge they will have in beating the Republican incumbent.

Crisscrossing the country on fundraising trips, Walker has raised more than $25 million since January 2011 and has $4.9 million in cash on hand - numbers unlike any that have been seen for a political candidate in Wisconsin. Two-thirds of Walker's money came from out of state.

His stores of cash dwarf what his Democratic rivals have raised. But a report filed Monday showed an independent group supporting Democrat Kathleen Falk received $4.5 million, nearly all of it from unions and about a third of it from out of state.

Walker's fundraising is on par with that of second-tier presidential candidates. For instance, Rick Santorum raised $18.5 million between Jan. 1 and March 31, and Newt Gingrich raised a little less than $10 million during that period.

So what we have is a state election being overwhelmed by outside interests.

Walker has been able to raise so much because of the national appeal he developed with conservatives after his high-profile fight with labor unions and a quirk in Wisconsin law that allows unlimited fundraising while recalls are pending.

Conservative billionaire Diane Hendricks gave Walker $500,000. Hendricks co-founded Beloit-based ABC Supply, a roofing wholesaler and siding distributor, with her husband, Ken, who died in a 2007 fall.

Her donation was the single largest ever to a gubernatorial candidate in the state and tied the $500,000 given to Walker over recent months by Bob Perry, owner of Houston-based Perry Homes and a chief backer of the Swift Boat Veterans ads against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 race for president.

The Democrats who want to face Walker have very little money


And they will need to expend most of that in a primary to see who gets to be drowned by Mr. Walker’s money in the recall election.

In the end it is difficult to see how Mr. Walker can lose, and if he does win despite rather than because of his policies hopefully this will be the wake-up call to Democrats about what they are facing in future elections.  But no one should be optimistic Democrats will pick up the phone and answer the wake up call, it is far more likely they will just sleep through it.

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