It is public and common knowledge that Tom Barrett will likely very easily win re-election for Mayor of Milwaukee. According to multiple sources close to campaigns and Labor, he will soon place himself in a more challenging political race – for Wisconsin Governor (again) in a Democratic primary to face Scott Walker in a recall election. The reason for this announcement raises serious questions about who is looking to harness the recall momentum – and the consequences if they succeed.
Independent of each other, two high level sources in political campaigns and organized labor have stated to Badger Democracy that Obama Campaign officials from Chicago recently met with select Barrett campaign people. The purpose of the meeting was to push Tom Barrett to run in a recall election against Scott Walker.
In a recent blog, “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel privatizing and union busting like Scott Walker – and Barrett may jump right in,” Badger Democracy examined the role Rahm Emanuel played in Free Trade policies (NAFTA), Union busting, and privatization from his years with Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to the Chicago Mayor’s Office. With Emanuel set to appear in Milwaukee for Tom Barrett on March 28, it is clear that Barrett is poised to become Obama’s pick to unseat Walker. Emanuel and some of his closest advisors are poised to play a key role in the Obama Campaign, and their visit with Barrett indicates they plan on inserting themselves into the Wisconsin recall.
“Ben LaBolt will serve as national press secretary. LaBolt worked for Sherrod Brown‘s 2006 Senate campaign, worked as Obama’s senate press secretary, worked for the 2008 campaign, worked as a deputy White House Press Secretary, and currently works for Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, Katie Hogan, who worked on the 2008 campaign, will serve as deputy press secretary. Rahm Emanunel is expected to play a role in the campaign. Emanuel served as White House Chief of Staff from January 2009 until October 2010 and worked on President Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 and 1996 campaigns” (Wikipedia entry)
As if reading from a script, while interviewing Mike Tate (DPW Chair) on his radio show March 13, Ed Schultz asked Tate about candidates poised to run against Walker. Tate dutifully responded with the two official candidates, Kathleen Falk and Kathleen Vinehout. Schultz’s immediate response was “…what about Tom Barrett?” Schultz failed to ask about Doug LaFollette (who has announced his intent to run), Peter Barca, Dave Obey, Jon Erpenbach, or even Russ Feingold – all who have had their names floated – especially Barca. Tate did not add any other names to the pool in response. Schultz immediately jumped to Barrett (who has avoided committing on record) as if reading from the Obama script he so often follows.
Many observers faithful to Barrett will criticize the concern raised by this writing as some type of party “in-fighting,” or a type of “circular firing squad.” But this concern lies at the heart of what this movement represents. A politician, regardless of the “D” behind their name, is to be used by national party money and power to take control of the energy and momentum of this movement. The question is, is this what we have fought for?
For over 14 months, this struggle has begun and continued without the support of Barack Obama and his Administration. He was not on the ground with us marching against Act 10 – in fact, many of us have pleaded for his support since this struggle began. Now, facing an election, Obama needs Wisconsin as a critical battleground state. His obvious intention – to link his campaign with the energy and power of the Wisconsin grassroots movement with Tom Barrett as the capital “D” Democratic candidate.
Let the people decide. Are we to fight over the scraps left to us by both parties? Does Tom Barrett represent the energy and power of this recall movement? How many times has Barrett marched with teachers and firefighters? How many times has Barack Obama actually stood with Labor in Wisconsin or against job-killing free trade bills? When has Rahm Emanuel honored the negotiating process of collective bargaining? The political actions of these candidates speaks volumes about who they are, and what they represent.
If Tom Barrett were to decide to drop out of the Milwaukee Mayor’s race to run for Governor because people are overwhelming in their demanding that action, so be it. If he were to win a competitive primary, so be it. But – if Barrett intends on running as a pawn to the Obama Administration and beholden to that corporate money; and using the grassroots momentum for that political end – it will serve no good for the people at the heart of this movement or Wisconsin itself, and we all lose the potential to change the politic in Wisconsin for the benefit of the people.
Ask yourself the question – what does this movement represent, and do the actions of Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Tom Barrett embrace those beliefs?
Responses are welcome. Solidarity.