Updated Tues., 5/8 – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has defeated his top challenger, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, and lesser challengers Kathleen Vinehout and Doug La Follette, to win the right to face off against Gov. Scott Walker in next month’s historic recall election.
The Associated Press called the race for the Milwaukee mayor over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk relatively soon after the 8 p.m. poll closing.
“Tonight, I am humbled by and grateful for the support of Wisconsinites across our great state,” said Barrett in a statement. “I want to congratulate Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout and Doug La Follette on their incredibly hard-fought campaigns; they are all tremendous public servants and we share the same goals of a Wisconsin that works for everyone – and we are united in knowing that we must work together to end Scott Walker’s ideological civil war”.
Also Tuesday, Madison firefighter and union leader Mahlon Mitchell easily advanced to the general election after facing resistance from private investigator Ira Robins and fake Democrat Isaac Weix in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, setting up a recall election next month against GOP incumbent Rebecca Kleefisch.
To be sure, though, all eyes will be on the governor’s office for the next month. Barrett and Walker are no strangers, severing concurrently for several years as Milwaukee Mayor an Milwaukee County Executive, respectively. The two have rarely seen eye-to-eye.
“We cannot fix Wisconsin with Walker as governor – this election is not about fighting past battles, it is about moving forward together to create jobs and get our economy moving again,” said Barrett. “Wisconsin cannot afford to continue to suffer through Walker’s ideological civil war. We’ve seen billions in tax giveaways to the super rich, while our classrooms suffered the biggest cuts in history. And under Scott Walker, Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in the entire country.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Barrett and Falk are slated to appear at a unity event together on Wednesday at Barrett’s house along with the other two Democrats in the primary, Secretary of State Doug La Follette and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma. Unions will be holding their own rally at the Capitol, though it was unclear if any of the Democratic candidates would be there.
On Tuesday, Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell released a statement throwing her, and her organization’s support behind Barrett. WEAC was one of the first public unions to throw its initial support behind Falk soon after the former Dane County Exec declared her intentions to run in January. Falk had campaigned on a platform that included restoring public union collective bargaining rights stripped away from Walker’s implementation of Act 10. In contrast, Barrett has stopped short of saying that all public worker rights taken away by Walker would be restored should he be elected.
“Tonight marks another milestone in our effort to recall Scott Walker and reclaim Wisconsin,” said Bell. “In this historic recall election, less than a month away, WEAC will support Tom Barrett. Educators stand united in their goal to recall the most divisive, anti-worker, anti-education governor in Wisconsin history.”
In a campaign that is a do-over of the November 2010 election, Barrett faces an obvious challenge – Walker beat him by nearly 6 percentage points in November 2010.
While Barrett easily dispatched Falk on the state level, pulling in 55 percent of the vote to Falk’s 37 percent, the results were much closer locally, with Falk actually besting Barrett in Oneida County, 2,215 votes to 2,163. The vote was close in neighboring Vilas County, too, as Barrett edged Falk 2,331 votes to 2,223.
The general election between Walker and Barrett, and for Lt. Gov. between Mitchell and Kleefisch will be held on June 5.