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Kathleen Falk’s Fading Hopes


In A Case of Identity, Sherlock Holmes quotes an old Persian saying: “There is danger for him who taketh the tiger cub, and danger also for whoso snatches a delusion from a woman.”

In the recall race against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, Democratic challenger Kathleen Falk is slowly having her delusions of holding the state’s executive office pulled from her grasp. Falk, who became the “union candidate” by promising to veto any future budget that didn’t fully restore the collective-bargaining power scaled back by Walker, has begun sliding in the polls, and is currently trailing her primary Democratic challenger, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, by 14 percentage points.

The unions, sensing Falk’s electoral weakness, pulled their pro-Falk advertisements over the weekend, vowing to “regroup.” A union-backed group called “Wisconsin for Falk” had spent an estimated $3 million to back the former Dane County executive, but apparently didn’t succeed in moving the needle in her favor. Public-employee unions have been critical of Barrett, accusing him of using Walker’s reforms to save Milwaukee millions of dollars in balancing the city’s budget. (Barrett’s campaign is allegedly receiving a good deal of help from President Obama’s campaign operatives — meaning, of course, that the president is waging a war on Democratic women by opposing Falk.)

Furthermore, just today, the state’s largest teachers’ union appeared to back off their strong endorsement of Falk, instead saying they will back whoever wins the state primary. Walker has actually implied he would rather take on Falk in the general election, citing her ties to organized labor. Falk’s spokesman, Scot Ross, laughably suggested Walker was trying to damage Falk in the primary because he was actually more“scared of facing her in the general election.”

Falk has begun to lash out, accusing so-called party “insiders” of trying to “mow us down.” She has accused those same insiders of trying to “swoop in and co-opt our movement.” (Ironically, her “movement” is for unions to swoop in and co-opt state government.)

It puts the Falk campaign in the odd position of having to demonstrate its strength based on how closely aligned it is with a special-interest group. Most campaigns try to show that they have widespread support from the public and voters — Falk has to show she’s still a player by promising the union ads on her behalf will soon return.

The Democratic primary will be held May 8, with the general election against Walker to be held June 5. The same day, four state senate recall elections will take place. Once again, Republicans will utilize “fake” Democratic candidates in the May 8 primaries in order to make sure all the general elections take place on the same day, a maneuver approved by the state elections board last week.

In recent polls, Walker continues to maintain a lead over both Barrett and Falk (of five and seven percentage points, respectively), and yesterday announced government savings of $1 billion due to his employee reforms. As a friend of mine said, “the unions may actually finish third in this election.”

— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.


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