Wisconsin Recall Election Seen as Referendum


Walker's hefty war chest was bolstered by a quirk in the state's law. Under Wisconsin law, Walker could start raising unlimited funds early last November when a recall committee first registered with the state's accountability board, while Democratic fundraising was split as a hard-fought primary battle unfolded. While Barrett ultimately defeated former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, it was Falk who received the majority of donations from labor unions, the force that spurred the recall in the first place.

In recent weeks a slew of high-profile Republican lawmakers from across the country have flocked to Wisconsin to campaign on Walker's behalf. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell ? the chairman of the Republican Governors Association ? have all visited the Badger State to bolster Walker's chances. Wisconsin's own Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, stumped for Walker, too.

"The Democrats don't have a team of stars around the country," said Burden. "There isn't an equivalent for them of Chris Christie or Bobby Jindal, who are on the circuit stumping for candidates elsewhere. The president is the embodiment of the Democratic Party, whereas Republicans have a field team of presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls who are circulating around."

It wasn't until only days before the election that one of the Democrats' biggest stars - former president Bill Clinton - went to Wisconsin to help the anti-Walker cause, calling the state "America's battleground."

"Cooperation works. Constant conflict is a dead-bang loser and you need to get rid of it," Clinton said at a rally with Barrett on Friday.

Romney -- the biggest Republican star at the moment -- has not campaigned with Walker in the run-up to the recall election, but during a tele-town hall in March, the GOP hopeful voiced support for the embattled governor.

"Gov. Walker is, in my opinion, an excellent governor and I believe that he is right to stand up for the citizens of Wisconsin and to insist that those people who are working in the public sector unions have rights to affect their wages, but that these benefits and retiree benefits have fallen out of line with the capacity of the state to pay them," Romney said. "So I support the governor in his effort to rein in the excesses that have permeated the public sector union and government negotiations over the years."

Burden said the outrage over Walker's treatment of public employee unions had not decreased since the protests that engulfed the state capitol in Madison a little more than a year ago. United Wisconsin needed 540,000 signatures to force the recall, but ultimately turned in roughly 1 million. Burden warned, however, that it would take more than just outrage to oust Walker.

"I don't think it's died down," Burden said. "Those were mostly public-sector union employees: teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and others. The energy is still there, but they just don't seem to have the numbers or the loyalty that the Republican base is showing. There are a lot of Democrats who are kind of lukewarm or just not as jazzed as Republicans, but they aren't the Democrats who were protesting at the capitol a year ago."

According to the Marquette poll, 92 percent of Republicans said they were "absolutely certain to vote" on Tuesday, compared with 77 percent of Democrats.

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