Why would Tom Barrett run for Governor…again…?

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,[21] Katie Hogan, who worked on the 2008 campaign, will serve as deputy press secretary.[16] 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.


15 thoughts on “Why would Tom Barrett run for Governor…again…?

  1. My first thoughts are, if Obama wasn’t willing to offer up any type of support a year ago, and Rahm Emanuel is doing the same thing in Chicago, and both are backing Tom Barrett I will NOT support Tom Barrett. Call me crazy, but it sure seems like there’s more and more evidence of a “New World Order” taking place, and that regardless of which party, there are pawns in both to move forward the agenda.

    And that being said, what then would be the difference between Barrett and Walker? I find it disheartening that unions have found the need to jump out and support any candidate at this point, when it’s obvious we’re going to have a primary on our hands. This is and has been a grass roots movement, and IMHO it should remain as such. Personally, I want a candidate who represents ALL of the people that signed the recall petitions. Not ones who have been hand picked by the upper tier of the Democratic party. Give me a candidate who has been down in Madison at the protests just like I was. Give me a candidate who listens to me, and others like myself. Give me a candidate with integrity.

    • I agree why should we settle for the the scraps provided by the mainstream political machine this was a real grassroot drive bought on by anger of the people towards the status quo. The people have shown that they are ready for a change and not one paid for by corporations.

    • As a backer of Edward McDonald for Mayor, which is a true grassroots campaign, I must comment at least minimally that we in Milwaukee should not be stuck with the incumbent…. Barrett should resign to run for Governor.

  2. There is only one grassroots candidate in my mind: Peter Barca. He was with us in spirit while in Illinois to allow us the time to see what was being done to our beloved state. He has marched in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. I for one am NOT a union member and feel that this is being done to me, too! Barca represents what is good in a Wisconsin representative. He’s thorough, considers every angle and believes that we should govern progressively. To Qoye a sign I saw last Saturday in Madison, ” Peter Barca for Governor. Wisconsin nice, Badger tough!

  3. ‎”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?”

    Absolutely not!

    Moreover, there is room in our movement for a diversity of opinion. There is room — and need — to ask hard questions. There is room for careful examination and careful listening. Unity ≠ uniformity.

  4. In no circumstance would I support Tom Barrett as my choice to run against Walker. Such was my feeling even before I heard about Obama and Emanuel backing the him. This just put the nail in the coffin. Obama is a total corporate sell out, Emanuel has turned Chicago into an even more fascist realm, and Barrett has way too much baggage that can be used against him by the Koch brothers’ super PAC. That strategy worked once, and it would work again. My personal choice to run against Walker is Doug LaFollette. Since I’ve been active in the effort to stop the Penokee Range iron mine, I’ve come to appreciate his impeccable scientific/environmental credentials. Doug is independent of the Democratic machine. He has proven that he can work with both Democrats and Republicans, having held office during the Thompson administration. Furthermore, he is the epitome of dignity and integrity. Doesn’t “Governor LaFollette” have a nice ring to it?

  5. Yep. He had his chance last time and because he didn’t try hard enough is why we are in the mess we are in. And yes. Obama has just about completely worn out his welcome in our household due to his continuously ignoring the impact of the ever-expanding free trade crap!

  6. I can’t believe anyone would suggest Barrett “didn’t try hard enough” in 2010. He worked himself to exhaustion and ran a campaign that in a normal year would have won him the election. But there was a national tidal wave that defeated Democrats everywhere; in Wisconsin we didn’t only lose the governorship, but both houses of the legislature by big margins. Then there’s this: If Walker had told the truth about what he planned to do as governor, Tom Barrett would already BE the governor. It is hard to blame him for wanting a rematch.

    • @xoff

      I was hoping you might dare to mention the next logical step in your reasoning, that being sorry Obama (whose name still keeps coming up as unrecognizable in every online spell checker) threw the Democratic Party, the youth, the sick and the elderly and most of the middle class out the window or under the bus, moving so far right he out-Bushed Bush on just about every issue you can name. If the national democratic party is getting behind anyone, that candidate is automatically off my list of choices.

  7. What about drafting Jon Nichols? He has been with us from the beginning. He understands & really loves Wisconsin. He hasn’t been a party hack (not even sure if he is a Democrat). He is smart, thoughtful, knowledgeable, dynamic, and principled. Baca would also be ok.

  8. Could it be that what is worrisome to many of us is obvious to state and party leaders: that neither Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout, or Doug LaFollette stand a chance against Walker– and that Barrett, hugely outspent and in a poorly run campaign, lost by only 7 points against a Walker whose real agenda was well-hidden?

    • Good point Sue. However, I still think he makes an awesome Mayor for Milwaukee and I would hate to see what would happen to the city without him.

  9. As a former longterm, born and raised resident of Wiisconsin and an active contributor to campaigns, I am concerned about the content and tenor of many of these comments. Surely, I too would like to have a purist who fights for the rights of laborers. But faced with the unlimited amount of dirty money the opponent has at his disposal and his obvious history of deception, hiding his true agenda, the goal should be only one. Beat Walker. I too share many of the serious and legitimate concerns raised by others, but let us not lose focus. Whoever of the candidates polls best against Walker is the one we should support. Sue raises a good point about Barrett’s loss in a terrible environment. And perhaps Barrett should have worked harder. And unfortunately Senator Feingold shows no desire to run. I can’t vote for residency reasons. So I’m doing the next best thing, encouraging my daughter, a freshman at UW, to vote for the candidate who polls the best against Walker.

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