Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon who explains why the Wisconsin recall is significant for Republicans and why they are putting such a big push there to keep Gov. Scott Walter in office:
Local politics is national in Wisconsin this weekend.
It’s not just because the attempt to recall conservative Gov. Scott Walker is a ground-game test case that foreshadows the super PAC–funded fight between big business and big labor in the fall presidential election.
It’s because the Wisconsin GOP dominates the Republican National Committee right now. This is a time of national influence for Badger State conservatives—and this recall effort is a personal challenge not just to Scott Walker, but to Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus and his team at the top of RNC.
Priebus was the chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party from 2007 through 2010 while also serving as the RNC’s general counsel. Under his leadership, the GOP took control of the Wisconsin statehouse as well as the Governor’s mansion. Walker and Preibus are personally close, talking and texting frequently, with a friendship that goes back more than a decade to when Walker served in the State Assembly and Preibus ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate.
Politics is about personal relationships, and the Wisconsin ties within the RNC run deep right now. For example, RNC Political Director Rick Wiley served as executive director of the state party. RNC counsel Jonathan Waclawski previously was finance director and chief counsel of the state party. Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski worked as communications director of the state party. And National Field Director Juston Johnson was the campaign manager for Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (no relation) as well as political director of the state party. The august offices of the RNC are now a paradise for Cheeseheads.
None of this is unprecedented or improper. It’s common for executives to bring in trusted team members from their home state. But the disproportionate influence of Wisconsin Republicans reflects how personally invested members of the RNC apparatus in this Tuesday’s recall results. This is personal—an ideological fight playing out on their home turf. And it shows how the national Republican Party has been uniquely well positioned to push back on attempts to undo the 2010 election results, beginning with state Senate special elections in April 2011.
I personally see another factor that works against the Democrats: there is an ineffable sense of smugness on the part of many Democrats who in state and national elections seem to feel that voters would never reaaaaaaaaaaally vote a certain way (the way Republicans want voters to vote) because the case they’re making is common sense and mainstream. Many Democrats are more prone to stay home on election day than GOPers who will seemingly flock to the polls if thrown enough red meat.
And some well-heeled Republicans are picking up the red meat tab:
While Wisconsin is regarded as a swing state that leans Democrat in presidential elections, progressive forces’ focus on pushing back against the Tea Party in this particular state could seem ill-timed and ill-advised in retrospect. The national party’s strong ties to Walker and knowledge of the state’s politics helps account for why Democratic efforts, first to stop Walker’s policies and then to push him from office, have been unsuccessful to date despite the governor’s extraordinarily polarizing presence. This RNC team knows Wisconsin cold and has helped direct national resources to what might have been otherwise a remote local fight in 2015….
…..Buoyed by his national ties, and the national prominence of Tuesday’s recall contest—Walker has raised almost $15 million from out-of-state donors, as well as $10 million from those within Wisconsin. As of May 1, Walker had raised more from donors in Texas, Illinois, Florida, California, Missouri, and New York than Barrett had raised in total. Among the highest profile big-dollar Walker donors are Newt’s onetime super PAC sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson, who cut a $250,000 check, and Rick Santorum’s super PAC benefactor Foster Friess, who kicked in $100,000.
Still, all is not smooth sailing for GOPers who seem poised to erase some of the smugness many Democrats seem to project:
But while national prominence and connections have helped Walker’s bottom line, a series of local scandals threatens to add to the recall momentum. A “John Doe” investigation into improprieties when Walker was county executive is still being conducted, and six onetime Walker aides have been confronted with criminal charges and 13 individuals granted immunity. The public charges range from evidence that a separate wireless email router was installed in the county executive office to allow campaign-related business and fundraising to be conducted on government time to the far more serious and salacious charge that onetime Walker deputy chief of staff and economic development director Tim Russell embezzled more than $60,000 from a veterans charity.
To date, Walker has transferred $100,000 from campaign funds into legal defense funds. The ongoing nature of this investigation could continue to dog Walker and his allies even if he passes the recall text on Tuesday. Wisconsin Republican politics is a small world, and indictments could affect local figures well known to the Badger State crew running the RNC. This is the considerable downside that comes when local politics reaches the national level.
All the more reason to watch the results of Tuesday’s recall in Wisconsin closely.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that Democrats are convinced that in the end they’ll win.
Wisconsin’s Democratic members of Congress remain confident about defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday – even amid polls suggesting the governor’s risk of recall is dropping.
Decmoratic Reps. Ron Kind, Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore downplayed recent nonpartisan polling showing Walker with a lead over the Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Moore was touting Barrett’s chances to some Capitol Hill staffers just off the House floor when The Hill approached her.
“Girl, we’re gonna win,” she told one. “I know that the polls look bad but the thing of it is those polls are … African Americans are only six percent of the population. They aren’t counting on us. They’re counting on the split between the majority folks. I’m telling you, it’s all going to happen.”
Some Democrats have expressed concern that turnout in African American-heavy Milwaukee has lagged a bit behind the rest of the state.
Moore, an African American congresswoman from the city, told The Hill she was working hard to get black voters as excited about the recall election as they were about reelecting President Obama.
“We have to turn out in order to win this,” she said. “It’s fair to say that the turnout November 6 will favor the president and we’re hoping to generate that kind of excitement. We’re working towards generating the same kind of excitement (in) this race based on the outrageous performance of this governor.”
Moore described Walker as a “very nasty character,” and warned that if he survived the recall it would embolden him and other Tea Party Republicans to push what she described as “corporatist interests.”
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.