MILWAUKEE -- Could we be getting closer to a recall election that features Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker taking on his 2010 opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett?
So far, we know there are three official candidates: former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, State Senator Kathy Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug LaFollette. There are a handful of others mulling a bid, but the biggest name out there is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was campaigning for President Barack Obama this weekend, but he sounded very much like a candidate for governor, giving a campaign-style speech that pointedly criticized Walker's policies. "All of this partisan warfare, all of this ideological warfare that's begun and been carried on in Madison, hasn't worked. Since Governor Walker came in, and this Legislature, not only did they pass this law, not only did they take away people's right to collectively bargain, but since his budget was passed and since his reforms went into place, we have seen six consecutive months of job loss," Mayor Barrett said.
Earlier, Walker hinted at his strategy in a potential re-match with Barrett. "The City of Milwaukee saved $25 million, it's indisputable. The fact of the matter is, Milwaukee was able to balance its budget without the massive cuts that others around the country have had to do, because we gave people like Tom Barrett and the city council the reforms they needed to balance their budget," Walker said.
UWM Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee says the signs are pointing toward a re-match in the recall election. "Tom Barrett feels if the voters had known in November of 2010 what Walker was going to do in January of 2011, the results of the election would be different. It's almost like he wants to correct history, to re-write history," Lee said.
That history is the 2010 election. Walker defeated Barrett 52 to 47 percent. Last week, public policy polling released a survey that showed Barrett leading in a head-to-head match up with Walker 49 to 46 percent.
Barrett is not yet a candidate for governor. "I'm seriously considering that office, and I love being the mayor of the city of Milwaukee, so that's what I'm focusing on right now," Barrett said.
Experts say the recall race could cost $100 million, with much coming from special interest money. "It's almost as if the two candidates are going to be innocent bystanders watching a fight go on between out of state special interest groups," Lee said.
If that is the case, Lee says the Democratic candidate will have to be the one who is least susceptible to attack. "The Democrats want the equivalent of a potted plant. They want a candidate with the least amount of negatives possible," Lee said.
Lee pointed out that traditionally, a typical election would bring out a third Democrat, a third Republican and a third undecided. Polls are showing that in this election, most voters have have already made up their minds, so the election will be about turning out your base of support, not swaying undecideds.