Next step for grassroots recall effort…choose the best candidate to run against Scott Walker, and win

It may be a little too early to celebrate a successful recall signature collection drive against Scott Walker, since there will be much legal wrangling over signatures and petitions. The total number of signatures turned in on January 17 will most likely be too much for GOP challenges to overcome (there are only so many Mickey Mouses (Mice?) in Wisconsin). As a recall election is very much in our future, grassroots activists and citizens all over Wisconsin must now (not later) turn their attention to the next step. Be engaged in the process of choosing a candidate to run against Scott Walker in a recall election. As nearly one million people will have engaged in the recall effort against Scott Walker over the course of nearly one year; momentum must be maintained to assure a statewide candidate who will defeat Scott Walker – lest the power brokers and moneyed interests of the Democratic Party (who brought you Jim Doyle and shunned Barbara Lawton for Tom Barrett) hijack the people’s movement.

While there are names of potential candidates being floated across the state, most of the candidates named thus far are being vetted within the party, and amongst each other; vying for position in a behind-the-scenes negotiation meant to avoid a Democratic primary. The conventional wisdom being that a primary would help Scott Walker gain more time to raise campaign funds and outspend any Democratic candidate – one of the reasons Herb Kohl is seriously being considered as he could self-fund a campaign. These are unconventional times, and unprecedented, and they require the active participation of every citizen with a vested interest in replacing Scott Walker.

With nearly a million citizens already engaged in the process, the only way to select a candidate may well be a Democratic primary – a scenario the Democratic Party must accept, prepare for, and endorse. The momentum of this movement, unprecedented as it is, may also be able to overcome any amount of money spent by allies of Scott Walker. It will be the people’s loss if money is the final arbiter of the selected candidate. To that end, Badger Democracy is encouraging citizens to make their voices (and votes) heard in vetting the candidates.

At a recent gathering in Madison of progressive activists, journalists, and volunteers, everyone was asked to name their choices to run for Governor/Lt. Governor against Walker/Kleefisch. As unscientific as this poll was, it is of note that amongst these engaged citizens of Dane County, not one person cited Kathleen Falk as their candidate of choice. On that note, let the conversation begin…feel free to contact or email the Democratic Party with your thoughts as well, letting them know the people’s voices will be heard, or post comments to this blog, and they will be passed along to the party.

Now, the thoughts of this writer, and this writer only (not an endorsement or from any party or interest group):

Tom Barrett – You’ve got to be kidding…after the way Barbara Lawton was treated to get this politician on the ballot, his lackadaisical campaign loss to Walker, and public refusal to sign the petition or engage with any passion – never. Besides that baggage, we need a non-Milwaukee candidate to represent a statewide movement. If Milwaukee really wants him, they can have him…sadly, they may not have a choice.

Kathleen Falk – With all due respect to Kathleen, she would most definitely stand up for working, middle class Wisconsin and reverse much of the damage done by Scott Walker. However, she may not be able to even carry Dane County after her campaign against Peg Lautenschlager of recent past. Also, as noted above, we also need a statewide candidate from outside Dane County, just as Milwaukee County. 

Herb Kohl – Again, with all due respect to the Senior Senator, there is no evidence past that Herb Kohl would stand for Progressive values in Wisconsin. While he would very likely win if he were to run (due to the money factor), that again should not be the final arbiter. Has he signed the recall petition? Has he engaged with grassroots organizations? Herb Kohl has a lot of questions to answer before he becomes a progressive choice for Governor.

Ron Kind – Mr. Never -met-a-free-trade-deal-I-didn’t-like…Never.

There are others who have floated their names – Mahlon Mitchell, Peter Barca, Jon Erpenbach, Dave Obey…none of whom have demonstrated the level of interest of the three candidates above. Both Erpenbach and Mitchell seem to have backed away from running (probably for the better – the future for them would be better). Obey’s position and record as a lobbyist would be severe baggage against Walker. Peter Barca would indeed make a fine candidate – he has been an outspoken champion of the movement, and would stand for Progressives and the people. Time will tell if he declares…

For all you starry-eyed dreamers, Russ Feingold is out…really. While he would win, he has expressed no interest in running. Period. Another great candidate in Barbara Lawton was treated so poorly by her own party in the race against Tom Barrett (how did that turn out?) she will not run.

A word of caution – let your voice be heard, lest the Party and the power brokers hijack this movement in a return to a Doyle – style of Democrat. One who is beholden to corporate interests as our current Governor is – maintain momentum, make your voice heard, and stay strong. This writer’s choice…?

While we do not know his interest (or lack thereof) in running against Scott Walker, Badger Democracy would like to see a ticket of Steve Kagen (Appleton) for Governor and Corey Mason for Lieutenant Governor.

Again, let the conversation (and activism) continue…solidarity!


7 thoughts on “Next step for grassroots recall effort…choose the best candidate to run against Scott Walker, and win

    • Sandi Vandervest

      I am hesitant at this time to have a candidate who would come off as a flaming Liberal. I consider myself a Liberal, a progressive grassroots member of the Middleton Action Team.We support progressive ideas, education and community service. I think we would be jeopardizing the election with someone who is of a Liberal status at this time. Let us win this election with a moderate and then go from there. Hopefully this will get us further in the direction of getting a progressive in our elected body. This is not the time to risk losing to Walker. Can any one even imagine what life in WI will be if he wins a second time? We need the support of disenfranchised Republicans and the Independent vote. I support the idea of getting people involved in the process of getting a candidate. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to voice my opinion.

  1. I strongly support Steve Kagan as the candidate that can defeat Walker. Anyone on the Democrat ticket can win in Milwaukee and Dane counties, even Brian Urlacher! I also think any Democrat candidate will win the LaCrosse area and some rural scattered areas throughout the state. Most of the Milwaukee suburbs will vote for Walker no matter who the Democrat candidate is. The contest will be decided in the communities of the Fox River Valley, from Fond du Lac to Green Bay. That is Kagen’s backyard. He has won elections in that area before. At the least he will give Walker a real contest in that area of the state and will cut the margin of victory should Walker win those communities. Kagen already has a professional organization he can call on to win this election. His professional background, as an MD, will allow him to successfully compete for financial support that might otherwise go to Walker. Finally, I think Kagen is moderate enough to secure support from some liberal Republicans. Kagan can win this election; an election that is just way too important to lose.

  2. Regarding Kathleen Falk as the potential candidate, don’t you think Dane County residents could forgive Kathleen to overcome Walker? Aren’t they good enough to understand the big picture?

    You’re right that Falk would work for working families – she has a solid record of doing that. She has demonstrated that she’s a solid campaigner, winning 4 elections for Dane Co executive. There are many, many examples of Dane County candidates winning statewide elections, including our immediate past governor. Let’s make sure we’re evaluating a candidate on the merits, not what political pundits say.

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