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Tags: Wisconsin

Chinese-Made Bicycles and the Wisconsin Governor’s Race



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Could Chinese-Made Bicycles Be a Factor in Wisconsin’s Gubernatorial Race?

In Wisconsin, the governor’s race featuring Republican incumbent Scott Walker – perhaps a potential presidential candidate – and Democrat Mary Burke remains pretty close. The Walker campaign thinks they’ve got an opportunity to damage Burke by pointing out how her family’s business shipped jobs to China:

The dispute over Trek Bicycle Corp. flared up last week. The Walker campaign began airing an ad criticizing Trek, the Burke family business, for outsourcing jobs to low-wage China. Trek has not disclosed how much its contract workers there are paid per hour.

If they’re not disclosing it, we can surmise it’s not much.

For what it’s worth, Trek president John Burke – the brother of the candidate – said, “Mary had nothing to do with sourcing decisions at Trek. Those decisions were made by my father and myself.” Burke is no longer on the board of the company, but owns stock.

So she’s not a direct out-sourcer herself; she just profits from the outsourcing decisions of others. Much better!

And back in 2004 – when she was with the company – the U.S. Department of Labor investigated whether employees at Trek qualified for the “Trade Adjustment Assistance Program,” a federal entitlement program that assists U.S. workers who have lost or may lose their jobs as a result of foreign trade.

The Department of Labor concluded,  “The investigation revealed that production and employment at the subject firm declined from 2002 to 2003. The investigation further revealed an increase in company imports of bicycles during the relevant period.” But the Department of Labor concluded the workers did not qualify for one of the forms of assistance because “workers in the workers’ firm do possess easily transferable skills.”

Burke was at “Netroots Nation,” the big progressive blogger conference this weekend. She’s asked about “rumors in the media about you and Chinese employees and the minimum wage – is there any truth to that, or any story behind that?”

Burke’s answer, in its entirety: “I’d be happy to address that. Trek is the largest manufacturer of bicycles in the United States. Trek employs early 1,000 people in Wisconsin. In addition to $50 million in payroll in Wisconsin, by supporting millions of dollars in goods and services from all other Wisconsin businesses, small businesses across the state, its impact on the Wisconsin economy is incredible. so  Trek is very proud to be a great Wisconsin employer, a great contributor to Wisconsin, it was founded nearly 40 years ago right there in Wisconsin, and it has grown to be a global company with its headquarters in Wisconsin.”

That is a nice little series of statements and platitudes that doesn’t reassure anyone in its lack of specifics. Such as – does the company get parts, supplies or other materials from China that it could get in the United States? If so, how many? And if so, how much are the workers who produce those parts, supplies and other materials paid? When did the company start getting these supplies from China and were they available from U.S. suppliers, and at what price?

Also note that when Burke brags that the company is “the largest manufacturer of bicycles in the United States,” the company wins that distinction by making 10,000 bicycles per year in the U.S…. out of 1.5 million total. So this company makes a LOT of bikes in Germany and China.

Wisconsin liberals have accused her and her family from prospering from outsourcing:

She also claims in the interview that she never made decisions to ship jobs overseas and that she is opposed to unfair trade deals, both claims which aren’t truthful. Burke was a key family member in a family business. In his book, her brother calls her the “brains of the family.” Burke can’t on the one hand take credit for much of Trek’s business success, but then somehow sell the notion that there was a firewall between her and Trek outsourcing thousands of American bike manufacturing jobs.  

Plus, Burke is one of Trek’s private owners and currently sits on their board.  This is a real-time issue.   Did she object or do anything to stop Trek for sending jobs to China?  Is she doing anything right now to bring back the Trek jobs back? 

During her time at Trek, Burke served as a board member on the Bicycle Parts Suppliers Association (BPSA), a powerful trade association that, among other things, has lobbied for weakening tariffs and free trade.  In addition, they’ve defended Chinese manufacturing and fought regulations during the recent Chinese manufacturing lead paint scare.

So, while it is nice to hear Mary Burke bemoan unfair trade deals, the reality is that she in past has fought for them and personally profited from them. 

Keep in mind, Mary Burke is running on… raising the minimum wage, and also said the minimum wage hike “wouldn’t affect” her family’s business.

Well, we know it wouldn’t affect those Chinese workers.

Of course, we know how this all ends. Every Madison progressive, every union member, every liberal beating the drum for protecting American jobs who sneered about Mitt Romney’s greed will shrug their shoulders and vote for her… just because she’s the Democrat. 

Tags: Mary Burke , Scott Walker , Minimum Wage , Outsourcing , Wisconsin

Joy in Cheddar-Land: New Surpluses and New Tax Cuts in Wisconsin!



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Also in today’s Jolt:

Joy in Cheddar-Land: New Surpluses and New Tax Cuts in Wisconsin!

Our first bit of good news for the states: This week, the Wisconsin State Assembly will approve another big tax cut, amounting to $541 million and give Scott Walker another feather in his cap as he heads into his reelection campaign:

The tax decreases — the third round of cuts by Republicans in less than a year — passed 17-15 with GOP Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center joining all Democrats in voting against the proposal. The proposal now goes to the Assembly, which passed a different version of the tax cuts last month with two Democrats joining all Republicans in supporting it.

With growing tax collections now expected to give the state a $1 billion budget surplus in June 2015, Walker’s bill will cut property and income taxes for families and businesses, and zero out all income taxes for manufacturers in the state.

This isn’t exactly stunning news, but reassuring: Walker enters the 2014 campaign season with a sizable financial advantage:

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch together raised more than $9 million in 2013. As of December 31, Walker and Kleefisch had a combined $4.97 million in their campaign accounts.

Democrat Mary Burke, who is challenging Walker, raised $1.8 million in 2013 and has $1.32 million in her campaign account.

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, who has challenged Kleefisch, raised $9,340 in 2013 and has $10,647.

Also:

Republicans, who hold a majority in both the Senate and Assembly, started the 2014 election year with three times more cash in their campaign accounts than Democrats, the report shows.

Tags: Scott Walker , Wisconsin , Tax Cuts

The Washington Post’s Sudden Interest in Scott Walker



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Today’s Washington Post, above the fold:

The story can be found here; it points out that of the two criminal investigations mentioned in the lead, one “is closed and found no wrongdoing by the governor” but has “the potential to embarrass him.”

One revelation is that “e-mails show he knew county officials were working closely with campaign officials.” Of course, the problem isn’t county officials and campaign officials “working closely” — the public official’s schedule and other matters require communication between the two offices. The problem is when taxpayer dollars are used for campaign purposes, or if public employees work on campaigns on the taxpayer’s dime. One complaint is that the county officials used private e-mail accounts for political communications with the governor, allegedly to “shield political business from public scrutiny.” But if the county officials had used their official work accounts, wouldn’t they be doing campaign work on a taxpayer-funded and supplied e-mail account? The effort to avoid the scandal is being cited as a scandal.

The other investigation is examining “possible illegal political coordination during the 2012 recall election.” Both investigations were begun by Milwaukee district attorney John Chisolm, a Democrat, and it will not shock you to learn there is no investigation of union activity during the recall.

The top of the front page is a fascinatingly prominent placement for what is, to use the term of another Washington Post reporter, a “local crime story.”

Say, did President Obama ever use government resources for his reelection campaign?

“Throughout his administration, but particularly in recent weeks, President Obama has been passing off campaign travel as ‘official events,’ thereby allowing taxpayers, rather than his campaign, to pay for his reelection efforts,” the complaint letter by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus read.

The president gave speeches on college campuses in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa in front of large crowds of students in which he called on Congress to prevent a hike in federal student loan interest rates. The RNC noted the location of the speeches, the large boisterous crowds and some of the president’s recent rhetoric in its complaint, saying they created a campaign-like atmosphere.

Campaign fundraising videos taped within the White House? No problem. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calling for Obama’s reelection during a taxpayer-funded trip? Yawn. Blatantly political and partisan messages sent through the Department of Defense’s communication system? Shrug. Then of course there’s the IRS’s sudden interest in, and scrutiny and treatment of, conservative groups during Obama’s first term.

The IRS scandal received above-the-fold, page A1 of the Washington Post. The others, not so much.

I guess it isn’t as newsworthy as which e-mail account was used by Walker staffers out in Wisconsin in 2010.

Tags: Scott Walker , Wisconsin

Scott Walker, Coy About 2016



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Scott Walker Isn’t Saying He’s Running . . . but He Sounds Like He’s Running.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker dropped by the National Review DC offices Friday.

He’s out promoting his new book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, and his publisher asked that we not quote him about the book until the official publication this week. Walker is quick to emphasize the book isn’t an autobiography; it’s mostly about his years as governor so far, particularly the high-profile fights over pension reform and controlling spending and his recommendations about enacting conservative policies in a purple-to-blue state.

One of Walker’s key messages Friday was that as disastrous as the Obamacare rollout has been, Republicans cannot be seen as gloating or “spiking the football”; he says that as a governor who did not expand Medicaid or set up a state exchange, his role is to do his best for the people in his state who “slip through the cracks” — who have lost their existing insurance plans and can’t buy or afford a new one through the dysfunctional federal web site.

I asked Walker about his reelection outlook; most polls have him in good but not great position, leading his only announced challenger, Democrat Mary Burke, by a few percentage points but below 50 percent. Walker said he governs a state that is roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and that he thinks it’s fair to say he has a ceiling of about 52 to 53 percent. He also said that while he won the recall by a margin that surprised many, 53 percent to 46 percent, he recognizes that some of that margin came from voters who disagreed with the recall on principle, not because they agreed with everything he was doing. The governor’s decision to make that point, unprompted, represents something of a declaration against interest. Give him some points for honesty and modesty.

You may have noticed Walker’s getting some presidential buzz. Walker said he couldn’t guarantee he would finish another term as governor, and said he had never given that sort of assurance in any previous race. It seems safe to interpret the lack of a blanket denial of a presidential bid as a sign that Walker isn’t ruling it out.

If Walker ran, he might be one of the strongest hybrid or consensus Republican candidates in the field. Tea Partiers should love him, as he may be one of the most spectacularly effective budget-cutters in the country, successfully changing the collective bargaining process for most public employees in Wisconsin. Membership numbers are plummeting for Wisconsin’s public sector unions, as are membership dues.

(PolitiFact quibbles a bit with Walker’s boast of turning a “$3.6 billion deficit into more than a half-billion-dollar surplus.” . . . but we’re really talking about the margins here:

That $3.6 billion shortfall that preceded Walker’s first budget is best compared to the projected shortfall Walker faced in his second budget. That number was actually a positive one — $177 million, according to Walker administration reports. That underscores Walker’s success at reducing budgeting tricks in the first budget.

So, the swing isn’t more than $4.1 billion, it’s more like $3.77 billion.

The apples-to-apples view still favors Walker, just not quite as much as he portrayed.)

To the “establishment,” Walker has a lot of experience in government, actually accomplished big, serious, consequential reforms, and he’s blunt but not prone to fire-breathing statements. He said that while he isn’t aiming to give advice to Republicans in Congress, he thinks the party should try to avoid another government shutdown. The party’s wealthy donors love him.

So what would hold back a Walker presidential bid? If you look at the names being mentioned for the 2016 Republican field these days — Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio — they’re all big, bold personalities, almost larger-than-life figures. Walker is an even-keeled, plain-spoken kind of guy. It’s easy to imagine him getting lost on a stage crowded with candidates, or being a bit like Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty’s 2012 bid — another accomplished, reform-minded governor with a Midwestern personality deemed too boring by the grassroots early on.

Tags: Scott Walker , Wisconsin

Middle Cheese: Romney’s Down 2 in Wisconsin, Could Finish Up 2



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After Middle Cheese’s last update of the outlook in key swing states, a lot of readers noticed Wisconsin wasn’t mentioned. My source, formerly of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and now talking regularly to the Romney big cheeses, wanted to check in with someone:

I left Wisconsin off my last report because I wanted to check in with a “Middle Cheesehead” source in the Badger State.

He says the trend in Wisconsin is moving in the right direction, although Romney is about 2 points behind Obama right now. Enthusiasm among GOP voters is very high. The Milwaukee collar counties (Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee) are mostly Republican and will turn out strongly for the Romney/Ryan ticket. The Fox River cities up through Green Bay are not as well organized and the GOP needs to put more ground game effort there first, and then second work west of Madison to LaCrosse and south along the river. Some of those voters are potential Baldwin/Romney ticket splitters. Let’s remember that the ground game infrastructure from the Walker recalls and related elections remains intact. According to Middle-Cheesehead, all Team Romney needs to do is crank up the ground game a bit in the above-mentioned areas, and they could win Wisconsin by 2 points.

As you undoubtedly hear a lot these days, a Wisconsin win would make Ohio moot, as long as Romney takes the Southern states that currently look good (North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia) and keeps his lead in New Hampshire and Colorado.

Tags: CrossroadsGPS , Mitt Romney , Wisconsin

The Obama Minnesota Efforts: Aimed to Save Wisconsin?



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A reader points out that several of Minnesota’s radio and television markets extend into the western edge of Wisconsin — so Jill Biden’s campaign stops in Minnesota this weekend may be part of an Obama campaign effort to shore up Wisconsin, rather than reflecting any internal concern about Minnesota.

This map of radio markets from Arbitron indicates that Duluth’s radio market extends into Douglas County, and Minneapolis–St. Paul’s radio market extends into St. Croix and Pierce Counties.

Jill Biden’s tentative schedule:

Minnesota may not be considered a swing state when it comes to the presidential race, but Duluth and Minneapolis will get a touch of national politics this weekend.

Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will make a campaign swing through Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a stop in Duluth on Saturday afternoon.

She will thank Obama campaign volunteers, said Kristin Sosanie, the state communications director for the Obama campaign.

“There a good organization up there,” Sosanie said.

The second lady is expected to arrive at the Duluth Labor Temple, 2002 London Road, at 2 p.m. Saturday to also encourage people to keep canvassing voters for the Nov. 6 election. She has a similar morning event in Minneapolis.

“We’re trying to make sure turnout is high,” Sosanie said.

Biden will begin her trip Friday in northern Iowa. She will go to a fundraiser in Minneapolis on Friday night and then a campaign office Saturday morning. Plans for Wisconsin stops Sunday and Monday are pending.

Tags: Barack Obama , Jill Biden , Minnesota , Wisconsin

Middle Cheese: Romney Trails, But Not By Much



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Many, many readers have asked for updates from my nicknamed sources from previous election cycles. Circumstances prevent communications with one of my regulars, but “Middle Cheese” — nicknamed such because he was ranked in between the “big cheeses” and the “little cheeses” of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign – is able to reappear. Since that cycle, Middle Cheese has moved around to various positions in high-level GOP politics, and still talks to the “Big Cheeses” of the Romney campaign.

His latest thoughts:

Glad to be back at “The Kerry Spot,” as it was called in back in 2004 when I first started giving my “Middle Cheese” reports.  Time flies!

You asked about the Romney and RNC ground game– is it real?  Yes, it is and it’s a record-breaking one.  Just look at the numbers:  73,000 volunteers have made more than 26 million voter contacts.  2 million more door-knocks and six times more phone calls at this point four years ago. The Victory program has identified more than 2.2 million swing voters.

You ask:  Are any swing states looking particularly good or bad?  My sources in the Romney campaign say that they have expanded the battlefield into Obama 2008 states like Wisconsin, Colorado, and North Carolina.  The latter is clearly moving out of the Obama column, while the first two remain highly competitive (I think Paul Ryan will have significant coattails in Cheesehead land).

The hand-wringers in the GOP Beltway Establishment are fixated on the recent polling data coming out of Ohio and Florida.  To be sure, Obama is ahead in both states, but the fact the race remains close in most national polls makes it impossible for polls showing wide margins in Ohio and Florida to be accurate. 

I don’t want to be accused of sugarcoating the state of the race.  It’s very close, and Mitt is trailing slightly in a few swing states.  But it is a lifetime until Election Day, with three Presidential and one Veep debate to go.  Our ground game is strong. Overall, Romney-Ryan and the GOP has a $40 million cash on hand advantage over the Obama-Biden campaign.  More importantly, I expect to see Romney to make a larger case for how he would take our country in a fundamentally different direction than President Obama, not on on the economy, but on foreign policy as well. 

Tags: Barack Obama , Colorado , Mitt Romney , North Carolina , Polling , Wisconsin

Obama to Wisconsin Democrats: I’ve Just Been So Busy Lately . . .



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Yesterday:

From the Tuesday edition of the Jolt:

Obama Finally Gives Wisconsin Democrats His Excuse: I Was Busy, Okay?

Reporter from local television affiliate Green Bay (WBAY): “There are a lot of Democrats in the state that have told me they’re upset that you did not come to the state and campaign for Tom Barrett.”

“The truth of the matter is, as President of the United States, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities. I was supportive of Tom and have been supportive of Tom. Obviously I would have loved to have seen a different result.”

Zip at Weasel Zippers can’t believe the audacity of the excuse: “Too busy? He did nine fundraisers in the four days prior to the election. In total Obama hit 13 fundraisers in the 14 days leading up to Barrett’s drubbing by Scott Walker.”

Ace of Spades adds:

I think it’s a little worse than that. Obama actually flew over Wisconsin to go from a Minnesota fundraiser to attend a Chicago fundraiser.

He actually flew over Wisconsin twice, avoiding it both times, in the crucial last days of the recall. At one point, when on the ground, he was 15 miles away from the border of Wisconsin — no quickie rally?

I guess Wisconsin’s airports and helipads and highways were also too busy.

I never know how much to make of a lie like this, because it’s an obligatory lie. Most people would mumble something like this rather than tell the strict truth.

What’s kind of amazing is that the White House books an interview with a television reporter from Green Bay and the president doesn’t have a better answer to this question.

How would you like to be the Obama for America grassroots coordinator in Wisconsin this morning?

UPDATE: Jeryl Bier looks at the president’s remarks from the five days preceding the recall:

June 05, 2012 Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event

June 04, 2012 Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event 

June 04, 2012 Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event

June 04, 2012 Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden at the Cypress Bay High School Graduation Ceremony

June 04, 2012 Remarks by the President on Equal Pay for Equal Work via Conference Call

June 01, 2012 Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Private Residence, Chicago, IL

June 01, 2012 Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Private Residence, Chicago, IL

June 01, 2012 Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event

June 01, 2012 Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Bachelor Farmer Restaurant, Minneapolis, MN

In retrospect, it’s rather amazing that they didn’t even send Vice President Biden.

Tags: Barack Obama , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

Walker’s Foes Proudly Announce They Learned Nothing Tuesday



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Welcome to the Post-Wisconsin World

Reuters doesn’t spare Obama in their assessment of Wisconsin after the recall:

Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recall victory raised numerous warning flags for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, who badly flunked the first big political test of the 2012 campaign

Walker’s surprisingly easy win over Democrat Tom Barrett on Tuesday was fueled by a big turnout from a motivated Republican base of voters, and by heavy spending by out-of-state conservatives who flooded Wisconsin with campaign cash.

Both trends raised difficult questions for Obama’s re-election campaign, which has struggled to match the enthusiasm of his 2008 White House run and compete financially with the huge sums of money being raised by conservative outside groups ahead of the November 6 election.

The important thing is that Walker’s foes have learned pretty much nothing from all this:

The state’s largest public teachers union spent around $4 million on Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election, much of that on Kathleen Falk’s failed bid for the Democratic nomination, something union leaders say they don’t regret.

“We were all chips in because we had nothing to lose,” said Dan Burkhalter, executive director of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, referring to efforts by the governor and Republican legislators to cut public school funding and all but end collective bargaining for most public employees.

WEAC President Mary Bell said the union supported Falk because she got into the recall race much earlier than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and for many weeks Walker “had the field to himself” and was able to run many ads touting his accomplishments.

The governor “had the bigger megaphone,” Bell said in a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the Journal Sentinel’s editors and reporters.

Oh, hogwash. It’s not like voters didn’t know who Tom Barrett was and what he stood for, and it’s not like they didn’t know who Scott Walker was and what he stood for. In post-election analyses like these, sore losers behave as if the other guy’s ads have this magic, hypnotic ability to get people to vote against their own interests, while their own ads have no ability to persuade. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the Wisconsin teachers’ unions ran lousy ads, but that’s their own fault, not a ‘size of megaphone’ issue.

One day after Walker withstood the recall attempt, Bell and Burkhalter said they were unsure whether the governor will be open to discussing public education in the state.

“We have to find a better way to have a civil dialogue,” said Bell.

Helpful hint: Stop calling the governor Hitler. Oh, and remember how the AFSCME had their membership drop by 55 percent within one year? The teachers unions are seeing a milder version of the same dropoff:

Since the collective bargaining measure was enacted last year, WEAC’s membership has dropped from around 90,000 to 70,000 but the remaining membership became energized by the recall and union leaders are hopeful that passion will continue as the union rallies around issues such as public school funding. The union is working on membership drives this summer.

“I think we will be smaller but stronger,” Bell said.

Like the new Newsweek, Wisconsin teachers’ unions aren’t getting less popular, they’re just choosing to appeal to a more exclusive audience!

At Forbes.com, Bill Frezza argues that in the long run, all public sector unions appear doomed:

The power of private sector unions was long ago broken by many heavily unionized companies going bankrupt. While this was painful for both workers and shareholders, the economy motored on as nimbler non-union competitors picked up the slack. This approach is problematic for the public sector because bankrupt state and local governments cannot be replaced by competitors waiting in the wings. Yes, citizens can always vote with their feet, emptying out cities like Detroit, leaving the blighted wreckage behind. But isn’t Walker’s targeted fiscal retrenchment less painful than scorched-earth abandonment?

Today through Sunday I’ll be journeying to Providence, Rhode Island, for the Heritage Foundation and Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity’s Future of Journalism Summit. Campaign Spot blogging may be light in the coming days . . . 

Tags: Scott Walker , Wisconsin

Talking Wisconsin With Ana Marie Cox



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At 1 p.m., I’ll be discussing Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin recall election over at the Guardian with Ana Marie Cox.

Tags: Something Lighter , Wisconsin

After Long Days of Fundraising, Obama Returns to Fundraising



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The optics of the day:

David Axelrod is insisting that results showing a 7-point Scott Walker win last night is bad news for Mitt Romney.

Bill Clinton said in a CNBC interview, “there’s a recession,” and his spokesman had to issue a statement explaining he didn’t really mean it.

The Greek government is declaring “government coffers could be empty as soon as July, shortly after this month’s pivotal elections. In the worst case, Athens might have to temporarily stop paying for salaries and pensions, along with imports of fuel, food and pharmaceuticals.”

Obama will spend today and tomorrow doing fundraisers in California.

And the RNC is showcasing Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s declaration that the Wisconsin recall would be a “dry run” of the Democrats get-out-the-vote operations.

It’s not that surprising that Obama and the Democrats are in trouble. What is surprising is that he and his fellow party leaders are absolutely convinced that they’re not in trouble.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Democrats , Wisconsin

Enraged Lefty Slaps Barrett for Conceding



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Those warm, loving, kind-hearted leftists will turn on you so fast: last night an enraged supporter of Tom Barrett slapped him for conceding the race.

(HT: The Hope for America.)

I don’t recall – no pun intended – this sort of thing ever happening on an Election Night before.

I wonder how Democratic officeholders and their professional class feel about having a grassroots base that is, at least in some parts, psychotic enough to resort to physical violence upon their own candidates for acknowledging reality. At the time, Barrett trailed by about 10 percentage points or 200,000 votes; as of this morning, Walker won by 7 percentage points, or roughly 173,000 votes.

Tags: Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

How Scott Walker Helped Unions and Democrats Tonight



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Believe it or not, by winning his recall election -  by a 57 percent to 42 percent margin at this hour – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has done his foes – the Wisconsin Democratic Party, the public sector unions, the progressives and angry leftists – a favor.

He has liberated them from the soothing illusion that they are popular, and that the public agrees with them.

How do you think the leadership of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees felt when their membership fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011? How do you think they greeted the sudden realization that more than half of the members, given the option of leaving and cease paying union dues, headed for the exits?

The leadership of the unions have done a terrible job – and have spent years convinced that the membership loved them, and that the public thought well of them as well. That may have been true at some point, but it is no longer the case, and no amount of spin can change that. Better for these organizations to confront the hard truth, and work to earn back that trust of members and the public at large, than to insist that all is well and ignore the problems.

Tonight Scott Walker and his GOP allies did a favor the Obama campaign, too. They assured them that their classification of Wisconsin as a swing state was accurate, and that in the “dry run that we need of our massive, significant, dynamic grassroots presidential campaign” that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz promised, the Wisconsin Democrats failed miserably. At this hour, Walker is winning by roughly a 200,000 vote margin.

Tags: Scott Walker , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

Decision Day Dawns in Wisconsin



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It’s Tuesday, Recall Election Day in Wisconsin. I wonder if MSNBC will see a surge in viewers tonight, as optimistic (but hopefully not overconfident) righties tune in to watch the hosts’ collective meltdown?

From the Morning Jolt today:

It’s Decision Day in America’s Dairyland!

If you live in Wisconsin, go vote. But you probably know that already. If you know someone in Wisconsin,you may want to encourage tehm to vote, but… consdierhin how thye’ve been at the epicenter of a political earthquake and about two years’ worth of aftershocks, they probably know it’s recall election day already. They may just scream in response, “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

And you really can’t blame them:

A bitterly contested state Supreme Court race in April 2011 — when incumbent Justice David Prosser narrowly survived a recount — was followed by a state Senate recall primary and general elections through the summer, municipal voting in February, the presidential primary in April and more recall primaries on May 8, including one for governor.

If there’s any state that epitomizes what the permanent campaign feels like, it’s this one. Wisconsin voters essentially have been asked to cast ballots every 60 days for more than a year, and they’ve been exposed to a relentless barrage of television and radio advertisements, mailers, phone calls, yard signs, stump speeches and debates.

All told, close to $110 million in political advertising has been spent through May 21, according to Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks such spending, and it’s left residents with a bad case of election fatigue.

I’ve been checking in at the liberal blog FireDogLake to see how the lefty grassroots are taking the Wisconsin developments. David Dayen writes:

Labor keeps insisting that they have a superior ground game, and even the DNC has said this is a “dry run” for November (I would argue that it’s not all that dry, giving the implications of a union-busting Governor beating back a labor-led surge). This is an opportunity to test the voter turnout systems for the fall.

Ultimately, however, one must acknowledge that no public poll has shown Barrett in front. That argues strongly that Walker will be able to hold on. He goes into Election Day a small favorite. Moreover, with public employee union membership in the state declining as the anti-collective bargaining law gets implemented, as was the point, this could represent a high-water mark from an electoral standpoint for labor in the state. They will not have the funds anymore as their membership gets decimated. The larger war, to drain funds from a Democratic-friendly source, has been fought and concluded, in many respects. Building worker power becomes that much harder when the right to organize is restricted. I don’t know what the answer is post-recall, but it probably doesn’t lie with elections.

Walker has won the campaign spending and advertising war, for whatever that’s worth:

Walker, the Republican Governors Association, and independent tea party groups and other grassroots fiscal conservative organizations have spent around $2.484 million to run ads in the recall campaign over the past week, according to data provided to its clients by Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks and estimates the costs of campaign television ads. That’s more than double the $1.125 million Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker’s Democratic challenger, Democratic Party committees and independent progressive groups have spent to run commercials from last Monday through Sunday. Overall nearly $3.6 million has been spent to flood Wisconsin airwaves with recall spots the past week.

If Barrett loses, expect to hear a lot of Democrats insisting, without much compelling evidence, that they would have won handily if their side had just spent more money. Of course, if a Democratic takeover of the governorship of a swing state – and a warning to every other GOP governor who dares cross public sector unions – was just a matter of spending more money… why wouldn’t the DNC or its allied groups spend the bucks necessary?

For what it’s worth, Conservative Art Critic over at Ace of Spades, who has been following this recall obsessively – but in the good way – makes his final projection of 52 percent to 48 percent.  Nate Silver concludes, “If we put Walker’s lead in WI polls into our forecasting model, it would give him about a 95% chance of beating Barrett.”

Tags: Scott Walker , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

Messina: We’re Doing Great! Oh, and We May Lose Wisconsin.



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The Obama campaign releases a video with campaign manager Jim Messina, discussing the state of the race.

“We’re actually ahead of where we were at this point last time around. Remember summer of 2008? Folks don’t remember it this way, but in May and June 2008, a lot of polls were saying we would never pull it off. In fact, eight different national polls had us anywhere from neck-and-neck to down a few points.”

Perhaps people don’t remember it that way because that’s not what happened.

If you look at the RealClearPolitics archives, the 15 polls released in May 2008 showed McCain ahead twice, and one tie; the other 12 had Obama ahead by 2 to 11 percentage points.  Every poll released in the month of June 2008 had Obama ahead, from anywhere from 3 to 14 percentage points.

Also unmentioned, but noticeable on the map displayed by Messina, the Obama campaign considers Wisconsin to be a “toss-up” or “undecided.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Jim Messina , Polling , Wisconsin

Tom Barrett, Not Yet Winning Over Brewers Fans



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Campaign Spot reader Steve gives us a Wisconsin recall report from the Pirates-Brewers game:

I drove from Chicago to Milwaukee on Sunday to watch my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Milwaukee Brewers. During the third inning, the jumbotron began showing random crowd shots (which had the attention of the crowd and generated friendly cheers) – the cute baby in the Brewers jumper, the shirtless guys with beers, the pretty girls dancing to the music. Then, the camera panned to a guy holding up a “Vote Barrett” sign. The crowd erupted…in boos! These were significant, sustained boos. I asked the couple seated next to me – a young couple that didn’t appear to be regular CPAC attendees or anything -  about the situation and they said, “Barrett’s got no chance. People are sick of this thing.”

Jim, I read the data and insights ably provided by National Review and realize that things are going well for Walker and I’m not reporting any new news. But it’s always nice to confirm the numbers you are seeing with strong anecdotal/local evidence. This was it for me. Walker in a landslide.

Tags: Scott Walker , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

What Happens When Government Stops Collecting Union Dues?



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Here’s What Happens When Government Stops Collecting Dues for Unions

Wow. Just . . . wow.

Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — the state’s second-largest public-sector union after the National Education Association, which represents teachers — fell to 28,745 in February from 62,818 in March 2011, according to a person who has viewed Afscme’s figures. A spokesman for Afscme declined to comment.

Much of that decline came from Afscme Council 24, which represents Wisconsin state workers, whose membership plunged by two-thirds to 7,100 from 22,300 last year.

A provision of the Walker law that eliminated automatic dues collection hurt union membership. When a public-sector contract expires the state now stops collecting dues from the affected workers’ paychecks unless they say they want the dues taken out, said Peter Davis, general counsel of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

In many cases, Afscme dropped members from its rolls after it failed to get them to affirm they want dues collected, said a labor official familiar with Afscme’s figures. In a smaller number of cases, membership losses were due to worker layoffs.

Looks like a lot of public sector workers may like their unions . . . but not enough to keep paying the dues if they have the option. Like, two-thirds of them.

Apply this across the country . . . and you’re talking about the evisceration of one of the Democratic Party’s most important political allies — a game-changer in politics in so many states. Compulsory union-dues collection was the glue that kept the whole operation together. Ed Schultz may be exaggerating when he says a Republican win means America will never elect a Democratic president again . . . but his vision might not be that wildly exaggerated.

Over at the lefty blog FireDogLake, David Dayen notes, “The state president of the American Federation of Teachers is quoted in the article saying that a failure in the recall spells doom for unions nationwide. There’s a lot of truth to that. And that’s why it was so important for the national funding to flow into Wisconsin to take a stand here . . .”

Rick Moran writes:

There is a lot at stake for organized labor in this recall vote. But perhaps not unexpectedly, the voting public has largely moved on from the collective bargaining controversy and now see jobs and jobs creation as the primary issue for the recall vote. A win will be interpreted by labor bosses as vindication rather than a general unhappiness with the Wisconsin economy. That only proves how truly out of touch they are with ordinary people who don’t see the unions representing their interests anymore.

Our Bob Costa takes a closer look at the phenomenon of shrinking unions in Wisconsin on NRO today.

Tags: Scott Walker , Unions , Wisconsin

Priebus on Wisconsin: ‘We’ve been analyzing this state for two and a half years.’



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RNC chairman Reince Priebus on a conference call discussing the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election:

“The RNC is all in in Wisconsin . . . Judging from Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s token appearance in the state today, and Stephanie Cutter’s comments on MSNBC today, apparently [Obama for America] and the DNC are all in . . . We’re looking forward to seeing what their top-notch ground game will accomplish in November. Democrats have been all over the map on Tom Barrett and this Wisconsin recall.”

“To highlight the GOP unity for Scott Walker, we’ve announced a partnership with multiple state parties throughout the Midwest. Not only is the RNC full-bore on money and ground effort with Wisconsin, but also Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota state GOPs are assisting with volunteers as well. We’re announcing competitions for both state party and individual competition. We’ve made two million volunteer voter contacts in the state already, and we’re identifying nearly every Wisconsin voter. For perspective, it took the Obama campaign a year to make a million contacts nationwide.”

“We’re feeling very good about how we’re doing on absentee ballots right now.”

“If Wisconsin goes red, it’s lights out for Barack Obama. Putting it in the red column for the first time since 1984 would be a really big deal . . .  I don’t think there’s a state in the country where the GOP knows the voters better than Wisconsin . . . We’ve been analyzing this state for two and a half years. Contacting two and a half million voters, having all of that consumer data, the Prosser election, the state legislative recall challenges . . . You have a pattern here of success that is going to make it easier to win here in November.”

“We’re not seeing any fatigue on our side at all. One of the biggest problems that the Democrats have is that a decent number of Democrats tell pollsters and in focus groups, ‘we may not be Republicans, but we think this recall stuff is out of control. A legislative disagreement with Walker is not enough to have a recall and spend millions of dollars on that.’ To many Democrats, this is absurd. That’s a problem in their turnout model that they don’t know what to do with.”

“The idea of tracking early votes is not a process that is unknown or a vague reality to the state and national parties. We track early votes every day. We know what’s turned in. We know, to a reasonable degree of certainty, how those ballots look in comparison to the voting propensity of those voters, people who we believe to be GOP voters. We know if there are any major problems in early and absentee ballots. We feel very good right now about where we’re sitting regarding absentee ballots.”

“I’m always concerned about voter fraud. Being from Kenosha, I’ve seen it happen. We’ve seen it in Milwaukee. I think we need to be a point or two better than we think we are. Voter ID is constitutional and it has been upheld by the Supreme Court.” (Voter ID laws will not be in effect for the recall elections.)

Tags: Reince Priebus , Scott Walker , Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Recall Madness Could Use Some Avenging



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Wednesday’s Morning Jolt features lot of discussion on Greece, a look at the Obama campaign’s continuing emphasis on the candidate’s personal narrative, and then this development in America’s Dairyland:

End the Division in Wisconsin! Obey the Will of Public-Sector Unions!

We’re one week away from the Wisconsin recall election.

The Walker campaign sent along word:

Governor Scott Walker’s campaign announced today that it has raised more than $5 million between April 24, 2012 and May 21, 2012 from a total of 54,112 contributions. 39,813 of those contributions were $50 or less, representing 73.5% of the overall number of contributions.

“More than 73 percent of our contributions were for $50 or less, showing that as the election draws closer, Governor Walker’s grassroots support is as strong as ever,” said Ciara Matthews, communications director for Friends of Scott Walker. “Governor Walker’s reforms have proven successful for the state by saving taxpayers more than $1 billion and helping to create more than 35,000 jobs since January 2011. It is because of this tremendous success that voters continue to stand with Governor Walker.”

The Walker campaign finished the quarter with a combined total of more than $1.6 million cash on hand in the recall and general campaign funds. The campaign has raised more than $20 million since January 1, 2012.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrats, who fled the state to avoid voting on Walker’s reforms, who let protesters take over the state capitol for several days, who compared the governor to Hitler, and who forced a referendum for recalls of state legislators and the governor’s recall (putting state voters through seven elections in one year), have coalesced behind one final closing argument: Scott Walker has divided the state.

Really.

So the only way to unite the state is to give Wisconsin Democrats what they want!

In related news, the head of a public-sector union in Wisconsin was seen in public with a staff and helmet with giant horns, declaring that the era of pluralism and public disagreement must end, and adding, “Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

Tags: Scott Walker , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

Allen on Walker: ‘Every Indication Now Is That He’s Going to Win Big.’



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It’s amazing how fast the conventional wisdom shifts. I have been cautiously optimistic about Governor Scott Walker’s odds in the Wisconsin recall; polls have pretty consistently put him right around 50 percent and his rival, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, in the mid-40s.

Along comes Mike Allen of Politico on MSNBC this morning: “Every indication now is that he’s going to win big.”

Joe Scarborough actually cuts him off in surprise at how Allen so casually asserts that the recall isn’t expected to be close.

“The Left, labor, Democrats, which planned to embarrass him, instead have made him a national figure with a very bright future,” Allen continues. “It was money poured down the drain by Democrats and the Left in a presidential election year.”

John Heilemann chimes in, “You notice the White House, the reelection committee in Chicago, they’ve stayed away from Wisconsin. They’ve done these big ad buys, they picked their nine states, Wisconsin not on that list. The reason is they wanted to see how this turned out. They have kept their distance from it.”

Tags: Scott Walker , Tom Barrett , Wisconsin

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