Like it or not, Wisconsin, we’re getting a recall rematch.
Voters hoping to have put their faith in Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who handily won Tuesday’s Democratic primary election. Barrett will square off against Walker one month from now in the June 5 recall, a rematch of the November 2010 showdown.
Over the next month, Barrett undoubtedly hopes to ride the momentum of Tuesday’s convincing victory over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Barrett garnered 55 percent of the statewide vote to Falk’s 37 percent, as of 10 p.m. Tuesday.
"I will end Scott Walker's ideological civil war," Barrett told supporters at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee after his victory.
In November 2010, after incumbent Jim Doyle chose not to run for re-election, Walker defeated Barrett with 52 percent of the vote to become the state’s 45th governor.
Just a few short months later, however, Walker announced how he planned to follow through on his campaign promise to eliminate the state’s deficit — in part for public employees through Act 10 — creating what has become a never-ending political season in Wisconsin. Since February 2011, the state has been as politically divided as it has ever been.
"He looked for new ways to divide us and that division is exactly opposite from the way I will govern," Barrett told supporters. "Because in difficult times, we do not need a leader who will divide us, we need a leader who will bring us together.
"Do we want a governor who has divided this state like it has never been divided before? Do we want a governor who has caused this state to lose more jobs than any other state in this country?" he asked. "Do we want a governor who raises 60-70 percent of his funds from outside this state? Do we want a governor who has to have a criminal defense fund? We do not want this in our state."
Barrett’s victory had been expected for weeks. Less than a week ago, , as he steadily increased his lead and widened the gap between himself and Falk.
Barrett from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the Iron Workers District Council of North Central States and a few others, but his list paled in comparison to Falk’s, which included the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the Wisconsin Educators Association Council, two of the state's largest unions.
But those endorsements did not pay off for Falk on Tuesday.
"Together we have been an energy and a force that has helped us get to this historical election just 28 days away," Falk told her supporters at her election part in Madison. "I worked as hard as I could becuase I love Wisconsin and the people of Wisconsin.
"I put my full support in this race to Tom and I encourage you all to do the same. You and I must turn to tomorrow and the healing of Wisconsin must intensify and gov. Walker must be recalled," she said. "I implore you to continue to keep up this fight. The next four weeks could be the most important in our state's history and I ask you all to join the fight."
According to the Huffington Post, there will be a unity event in Milwaukee on Wednesday, with the four Democratic candidates and Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate.
"It's been a terrific effort, and Kathleen has built an enormous tent of support from public workers and environmental groups," Scott Ross, spokesman for Falk's campaign, told Patch. "This is the kind of grassroots momentum that we will need to defeat Gov. Scott Walker on June 5. ... All of the candidates are united in their desire to ensure Gov. Walker is removed from office June 5."
Falk, Barrett focused on jobs
Falk jumped into the recall race in mid-January, immediately after the deadline for recall signatures had passed. Since then, , a promise Barrett has not yet made. Barrett, who waited until March 30 to declare his candidacy, has said he will work to restore collective bargaining a little at a time.
Falk and Barrett campaigned on the importance of job creation, and both criticized Walker when news surfaced that Wisconsin over the last 12 months.
Walker retorted by pointing out much of that job loss has come in Milwaukee, where Barrett is the top official.
Now those two will square off again, and recent numbers have the race as a dead heat. That same Marquette poll showed Barrett led Walker among all registered voters polled, 47 to 46 percent. Among likely voters, however, Walker got the nod by a point, 48 to 47.
Walker targets Barrett's record in Milwaukee
Walker, meanwhile, secured the Republican ticket Tuesday with 97 percent of the vote over political newcomer Arthur Kohl-Riggs.
"For anyone out there that has any doubt about what the future would be if we made a change, just look at where we’re headed moving forward versus where Milwaukee is today," Walker told supporters in Waukesha on Tuesday. "In Wisconsin over the past year, we’ve balanced the budget without raising taxes, without massive layoffs … we’re going to keep taking care of this state in the future."
The Republican Party of Wisconsin wasted no time criticizing Walker's opponent, issuing this statement 30 minutes before the polls officially closed:
"Tom Barrett's failed record in Milwaukee has been a serious concern throughout this contentious primary, and tonight, many Democrats showed they're still not convinced he's the right candidate to challenge Governor Walker.
"Milwaukee's ranking as the ninth poorest city in the country, coupled with a 29 percent rise in unemployment since becoming mayor, clearly demonstrates that Tom Barrett's policies have only hurt Wisconsin's middle-class. Over the next four weeks, it will become even clearer to Wisconsin voters that Tom Barrett represents nothing more than the failed policies of the past, and it’s Governor Walker who is moving our state forward.”
Friends of Scott Walker deputy campaign manager Dan Blum continued to pile on Barrett in this statement:
“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. While Governor Walker’s term has seen unemployment drop to its lowest rate since 2008, unemployment under Tom Barrett has risen more than 28 percent.
"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.”
Rounding out the field in the gubernatorial Democratic primary were Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (4 percent), Secretary of State Doug La Follette (3 percent) and Gladys Huber, the Republican running as a Democrat (1 percent).
More than just the governor race
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish and four Republican state senators also learned who their recall opponents will be in June.
Mahlon Mitchell (51 percent) defeated Isaac Weix (27 percent) and Ira Robins (22 percent) in the lieutenant governor Democratic primary.
Also, Lori Compas defeated Gary Ellerman in State Senate District 13; Kristen Dexter knocked off James Engel in District 23; and Donna Seidel toppled Jim Buckley in District 29.
John Lehman was leading Tamra Varebrook in District 21, but that race had not been called as of 10:30 p.m.