John Nichols on the Fight to Recall Extremist Gov. Scott Walker: It's Money-Power vs. People-Power
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I think that this mass mobilization, which the unions have put a lot of their resources and energy into, has the potential to produce a sufficient number of new voters. The traditionally unpolled voters such as young people, people of color, and rural people can make this a close and potentially very winnable race not just for Tom Barrett but for the incredible movement that developed last year.
JH: Let me just briefly ask you about Tom Barrett, Scott Walker’s opponent. This is a rematch. Barrett lost to Walker in 2010. Tell me about him. Is he the ideal candidate to be going up against Walker?
JN: He might be. It’s an odd thing. You’ve always got your debate about what an ideal candidate is. Most Wisconsinites who were part of the movement against Walker wanted Russ Feingold to run -- the former US Senator. Feingold chose not to run, but not because of a lack of disdain for Walker. Feingold has been on the campaign trail very aggressively against Walker. I think it's because after 30 years in public office, he was not looking to take on another race this quickly.
Barrett really stepped into that void. He won a four-way primary and is proving to be a pretty effective candidate. He is a very easygoing guy and a natural campaigner. He likes being around people. He’s worked very hard, much harder, I think. than he did in 2010.
The significant thing about Barrett that I think we might want to note is that when he served in Congress from 1992 to 2002 he had an almost parallel record to Russ Feingold. He really is a Wisconsin progressive. He voted against NAFTA, China free trade – trade deals that were favored by Wall Street and the business community, but were an affront on labor. He sort of had a breaking with President Clinton and President Bush. He voted against getting rid of the Glass-Steagall protections, one of the few members of the House of Representatives to do so. He voted in favor of all the major campaign finance reform initiatives and ethics initiatives. He was one of the handful of members of the US House who voted with Russ Feingold to try and block the US PATRIOT Act.
This is a genuinely progressive player who has a good deal of experience in executive and legislative areas. I’d say he’s a pretty credible candidate, although I will suggest that I think he started slow and I think that that caused him to have weaker poll number initially than he should have. I won’t say he’s absolutely perfect, but he’s proving to be an effective candidate. I don’t think Barrett will be the excuse if Democrats lose this race.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.