Friday, March 16, 2012

Kathleen Falk Is Our Mitt Romney

"If we don't run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we'll lose."

That's Ann Coulter's now infamous quote from CPAC last year referring to the pool of lackluster Republican Presidential candidates and the inevitability if that didn't change.

Ann Coulter took a lot of heat for her statement, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think more than twice about posting what you're about to read.

With the recall elections announced that include primaries on May 8, us anti-FitzWalkers are getting very close to turning the Walker recall into the Republican Presidential primaries. We have the same lack of any credible candidates in the race, and everyone's looking around for someone else. We are making Walker feel far too comfortable. He should be shaking in his boots, and not just from being under investigation for breaking campaign finance or election laws.

Our problem is not Mitt Romney but Kathleen Falk. Falk is the clear front-runner and inevitable Democrat candidate if no one else steps in the race, but she won't be able to win the general election. Now, I'm sure Falk would be a good progressive governor if elected. However, she's not what Wisconsin needs or wants right now. Wisconsin can't withstand another divisive politician at the helm, and Falk is clearly too willing to take sides without thinking things through. Wisconsin can't afford any more time in gridlock, and as we saw with the mining bill, big decisions require lots of thought and discussion, but only some people are willing to do the work.

I'm of course referring to Falk's pledge to veto any budget that doesn't restore collective bargaining rights for public workers. Of course we want our public workers to have those rights again. We don't need a pledge to get that done. We got over a million signatures to recall Walker in part for stripping those rights. That should strike fear in every politician, especially if Walker is successfully replaced. Such a pledge just limits the options of the governor to get stuff done, much in the same way Grover Norquist's No Tax pledge does. What happens if a budget restoring those rights can't be passed? Pledges are just a bad idea.

And the rights don't have to be restored through the budget, because the collective bargaining rights-stripping law was passed outside of the budget. Remember, stripping the rights didn't actually save any money. So, in fact, Falk may not ever be able to make good on her pledge, because she may not ever be able to get a budget restoring those rights.

Whether the pledge is good or not, the timing was awful and it just looks bad. The Republicans and millionaire Super PACs will tear Falk to shreds over it and the early endorsement by unions. Why make that specific pledge and why then? I understand the desire to be open and transparent, but that doesn't require a pledge. Falk could have just said she would do it. Who saw a need for such a pledge? The whole thing smacks of amateurism when we need a professional.

The pledge is just one reason Falk will find it tough to win in the general. In the latest PPP poll, Falk leads  Walker by a statistically insignificant 1% with 48%. Falk's unfavorable rating is the highest among the Democrats in the poll and is almost as high as Walker's. That's a lot of people who already know they don't like you, leaving far less people in the convincible pool. One has to imagine Democrats make up the vast majority of Falk's 48%, but we need to convince independents and Republicans to dump Walker, not Democrats. Falk's pledge will make that task far more difficult.

I like Kathleen Vinehout, but the polls show she would get trounced by Falk in the primary. She doesn't have the name recognition, the money, or the infrastructure to beat Falk, let alone Walker. If we're left to choose between two Kathleens, Falk will win the primary.

Falk's pledge was a critical mistake in an election with very little room. Either Falk needs to withdraw, or someone needs to push her out. Right now, a lot of potential candidates are on the sidelines, trying to figure out if they should get in the game. Falk's early candidacy announcement has kept a lot of them away, and her withdrawal would make room for more viable candidates.

We all win with a less divisive and more thoughtful candidate than Falk, that is except for the Republican brand. A less divisive candidate will be able to win more independents over from Walker and even Republicans who are upset with his behavior. A less divisive candidate would seem much more reasonable in contrast to Walker and would probably easily win. Once in office, such a candidate would inherently work across party lines as much as possible to put Wisconsin back on track. A less divisive and more thoughtful candidate will be able to get a lot more done for Wisconsin than Falk. Wisconsin would win with a less divisive candidate, and the Democrat brand in Wisconsin would get a significant boost.

So, who else should step in? We have to face it, Russ Feingold is NOT going to run for governor. He just doesn't want it right now or possibly ever. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is being careful to not get in, and he should. He's damaged goods, even though I think he'd be great for Wisconsin, he lost to Walker not much more than a year ago. The polls look a bit better for him now than they did then, but for some reason he didn't connect. Barrett's a more solid choice than Falk, but we need more than that in a razor-thin election like this.

I only see one viable candidate out there, Secretary of State Doug La Follette (but I could easily be missing someone). He's an independent thinker and he expresses that genuinely. With a PhD in organic chemistry, he makes decisions based on careful thought and consideration, not based on party affiliation or ideology. He's definitely for restoring collective bargaining rights, but he's not stupid enough to sign a pledge that may lock him out of better options for Wisconsin in the future, like getting a budget passed. There is more than one way to skin that cat, and La Follette knows it. He's also an environmentalist, a former UW-Parkside professor, and he co-founded Clean Wisconsin, but he's not a "Madison liberal" and he supports Wisconsin being "Open for Business," with a lot of good ideas to actually attract more businesses to Wisconsin.

La Follette has the same problems I mentioned Vinehout has, but he is already polling higher than Vinehout. Their unfavorable rating is nearly identical, but La Follette has a much higher favorable than Vinehout, possibly because he has better name recognition. Also, La Follette has been elected to be Wisconsin's Secretary of State since 1982. So, even though La Follette would have some work to do, he's not as far behind as Vinehout.

Even though La Follette hasn't officially announced his candidacy, he's closer than anyone else to stepping in by filing papers to look into a possible run, he's my choice unless some other favorable and electable candidate unforeseen to me steps in. Doug La Follette is a true grassroots candidate with the capability to heal Wisconsin by focusing on the things that Wisconsinites value most: education, jobs, health, and the outdoors; and doing it through reason and discussion not party politics.

You can read more about our Secretary of State Doug La Follette on his website and Meet the Walker Recall Candidates: Doug La Follette by Dane101.

Do your part to help convince Doug La Follette, or someone else you feel strongly about, to enter the race by calling, emailing, or writing to tell them you support them for governor and urge them to run.

Of course, I'll fully support the Democrat candidate for governor, no matter who that person ends up being.

But if we don't run someone else, Kathleen Falk will be the nominee and we'll lose!

Updated: (March 21, 11:05PM) Removed all talk of support for Kohl based on his continued co-sponsorship of SOPA. Thanks to reddit user mst3kcrow for reminding me of Kohl's severely irrational decision. We need leaders in Wisconsin that support technology, not degrading or controlling technology for the benefit of a few outdated business models. Doug La Follette, it's all yours for the taking, please give us someone we can wholeheartedly cheer for.

Update: (March 22, 6:37AM) Doug La Follette is expected to announce his candidacy for governor soon to Bring Back the Wisconsin Idea!

Read more about the announcement, as well as campaign events and Doug La Follette himself on his website


  1. Spot Falk and Vinehout (and other women candidates this election year) several percentage points just due to GOP political chauvinism on abortion and contraception and women in general. I agree that Falk made an overly concrete pledge re collective bargaining, but the reality is that if the GOP as expected still controls one or two houses of the legislature, she will deal, because, as she herself has said, that's her record. Ad for LaFollette, nope. He's got name recognition, but the GOP will take him apart for withholding publication of the collective bargaining bill pending legal advice. That was entirely appropriate, but he'll not have the resources to combat that and other smears. Kohl or Feingold would be ideal, but I don't see them getting in. Barrett may get in, but he'll be starting late and look like old news since he lost a year ago. Sorry to say it, but Falk may be the most realistic option. Me, I like Vinehout, but I don't think she'll have the name or resources to compete in a short campaign.

  2. Why make the pledge if she expects to break it?

    Honestly, La Follette's withholding publication of the bill is much easier to defend than the pledge. La Follette was just doing his legal duty. It's also much more complicated to explain to the dimwitted righties than Falk's blunder. So, Falk is a much easier target.

    Falk may be the most realistic option in the race, but that's because she's our Romney.