Will Democrats finally be able to knock off Scott Walker?
Some call him Wisconsin's "Mr. Invincible." But in what many expect to be a Democratic year at the polls, the two term Republican Governor Scott Walker, who also survived an intense recall challenge, may find his quest for a third term an uphill climb.
Donald Trump's surprise 2016 victory in Wisconsin is a distant memory. Democrats have won several state legislative elections in the last 18 months, as well as a seat on the state's supreme court. Now, there are no less than 8 serious Democratic contenders for the gubernatorial nomination, as unions, activists, and party officials finally believe that Walker's time is up.
But is it?
Democrats are so excited by the prospect of beating Walker that a bevy of candidates jumped into the race right away.
But none of them are stars — the Democratic bench has been so decimated in Wisconsin in recent years that the party has few standouts left who might have been able to scare away potential rivals. Those who did enter the race are little known outside their own distinct bases, and few have raised the financial resources necessary to run robust paid media campaigns.
“The large field split Democratic money among a lot of candidates,” said Charles Franklin, a political scientist who conducts polling for Marquette Law School.
Franklin’s latest survey tells the story of such a fractured field.
The only candidate with any kind of statewide base, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers (D), leads with 31 percent. None of the other candidates — including firefighter’s union chief Mahlon Mitchell (D), who has heavy labor backing, and former state Rep. Kelda Roys (D), who has support from EMILY’s List — have cracked double digits.
Even Evers isn’t that well-known. The Marquette poll showed 60 percent of registered voters, including 54 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, do not have an opinion of a candidate who has been elected to statewide office three times.
The Democratic candidates largely agree on the platform one of them will use to run against Walker in the fall: Most oppose tax breaks for Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer setting up a new factory outside Milwaukee. They favor new spending on education and on roads, weak spots in Walker’s record that Democrats hope to highlight.
But only four of the eight Democrats have been able to afford television spots.
In truth, Walker is not popular with the voters. His approval has hovered around 40% most of the year. Walker's ill-fated presidential campaign didn't sit well with Wisconsin voters and Trump is not very popular in the state.
But the article above points out why Walker has a better than 50-50 chance to prevail. He may not be popular, but compared to anyone in the Democratic field, he is a known quantity. Plus, Walker has been counted out on at least two occassions, most significantly, when Democrats and the far left ganged up on him to force a recall vote in 2012.
Walker and the Republican legislature had passed a public union collective bargaining reform bill that enraged unions and national Democrats. They poured resources into the state while keeping the pressure up by massive demonstrations in front of the capitol.
But Walker had out of state allies too and with their help, he became the first governor in US history to survive a recall vote.
His re-election campaign in 2014 was close, but he eventually prevailed by 6 points. The upshot here is that while Wisconsin is a nominally Democratic state, Republicans can do well with the right kind of message - and the right kind of candidate.
Walker doesn't set the house on fire with his public speaking. He has largely steered clear of major controversy since early in his first term. But unless Democrats can turn one of their toads into a Prince Charming, Walker should prevail again.