Surprise endorsement of Walker by liberal newspaper

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is the largest newspaper in Wisconsin and has a decidedly liberal tilt. The paper opposed Governor Scott Walker's collective bargaining reform and takes a dim view of Republicans in general.

But to their credit, they see no reason to recall the Republican governor:

No governor in recent memory has been so controversial. No governor in America is so polarizing. Everyone has an opinion about Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

Here's ours: We see no reason to remove Walker from office. We recommend him in the June 5 recall election.

Walker's rematch with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was prompted by one issue: Walker's tough stance with the state's public-employee unions. It's inconceivable that the recall election would be occurring absent that. And a disagreement over a single policy is simply not enough to justify a vote against the governor.

A Marquette Law School Poll in January showed that many people in the Badger State agree. In that poll, 72% of Republicans, 44% of independents and 17% of Democrats said recalls should be limited to criminal wrongdoing. Republican state Rep. Robin Vos has proposed tightening the recall mechanism; he should continue to push for that after the election, regardless of who wins.

Walker brought some of this animosity on himself. He chose an in-your-face style from the start. To his credit, the governor now acknowledges that he did a poor job of building support for his policies. "The one thing if I could go back in time is I would try to spend a little bit more time building the case," he told the Editorial Board earlier this year.

Whether any amount of explaining would have made a difference is questionable considering the breadth of Walker's vision. We think his limits on collective bargaining went too far. We think Republicans generally took an unfortunate sharp turn to the right on social issues. That led to bills in the Legislature promoting abstinence-only education, limiting women's health options and creating a concealed-carry law with insufficient training requirements.

There is a move afoot in Wisconsin to tighten circumstances under which a politician could be recalled. That would be a welcome change from the Democrat's ongoing efforts to overturn election results where they came out on the short end.

Tom Barrett's campaign was in trouble even before his hometown newspaper decided to support the other guy. The MJS endorsement of Walker is an embarrassment that Barrett will have a hard time living down.

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