Entries in Tom Barrett (10)


Why Obama Didn’t Campaign in Wisconsin: ‘I Have a Lot of Responsibilities’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his first public reaction to the Wisconsin recall election that saved Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s job, President Obama said Monday that he “would have loved to have seen a different result,” but was adamant that the election does not have broader implications for November.

“You have specific circumstances in Wisconsin,” Obama told ABC’s Green Bay, Wis., affiliate WBAY. "Keep in mind, it’s pretty unusual when a governor attracts this kind of attention in the middle of his term. And my suspicion is that all across the country, governors who are having to deal with tough budgets have to make tough decisions, but one of the lessons learned is that it’s better to try and make them with people as opposed to against people.”

Last week, Walker dealt a painful blow to Democrats and labor unions when he became the first governor to survive a recall election, defeating Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee.

“My goal has always been if we can bring parties together, there are ways that we can manage through tough fiscal decisions whether on the federal level or at the state level, but make sure that everybody is a part of it and everybody is doing their fair share, nobody is carrying the entire burden of sacrifice,” Obama told WBAY. “I think that’s what the American people are looking for -- balanced approaches that take everybody’s interests into account.”

The president backed Barrett from afar but did not campaign on the ground. Asked why he didn’t visit the state Obama said, “the truth of the matter is that as President of the United States, I have a lot of responsibilities.”

“I was supportive of Tom and have been supportive of Tom. Obviously, you know, I would have loved to have seen a different result,” he told WBAY. “But the broader principle that what we want is an economy that is not just focused on the few at the top, but is a broad-based economy that invests in our future, that makes sure that we have a strong education system, that is thinking about workers and their ability to pay their bills, I think that’s something that, in everything I do, shows that those are the values I care deeply about. And we’re going to be fighting very hard in Wisconsin, just like we have in the past, to make sure that’s the kind of government people get.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gov. Scott Walker Defeats Recall Challenge in Wisconsin

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- Wisconsin voters rejected a year-long effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker and replace him with Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.  ABC News projected Walker would win the race and hang onto his job one hour after polls closed.

The recall started last year as a state fight over Walker's efforts to curb public unions in his state.  But with its fierce debate over how to resolve the country's budget woes and tens of millions in outside political money pouring into Wisconsin, the recall morphed into what many viewed as a preview of what to expect this fall when President Obama battles GOP nominee Mitt Romney for the Oval Office.

"Voters really do want the leaders who make the tough decisions," Walker told a gathering of supporters in Waukesha, clearly viewing his victory as a validation of his stance toward public employee unions.

But he sought to strike a conciliatory tone, inviting Democrats to work with him.  He halted supporters from booing Barrett and told them, "Tonight the election is over." 

Walker promised to invite Democrats and Republicans over for "brats" next week.

The victory is a boon to Walker and Republicans in this key battleground state that opted for Obama by nearly 15 percent four years ago.  It may also be interpreted as a validation of Walker's confrontational efforts to curb public employee unions.  Walker's lieutenant governor, Rebecca Leefisch, withstood a twin recall effort.

"Gov. Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington, D.C.  Tonight's results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin," said Romney in a statement.

But voters in exit polls Tuesday said they favored Obama over Romney in November by an 11 point margin (53-42 percent).

"Wisconsin is a preview of what the November election is going to look like in many of these swing states," ABC News' political director Amy Walter said, "and that is millions and millions of dollars spent just to try to influence a dwindling percentage of swing voters and the two sides working very hard to make sure that their voters come and turn out."

While they said they preferred Obama, 52 percent of those who responded to exit polls approved of Walker's work on job creation, a key factor in the race Tuesday.

The Wisconsin recall election was only the third time in the nation's history that a sitting governor had faced a midterm recall, and that struck a sour note with voters.  Six in 10 said recalls are only appropriate for reasons of official misconduct.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scott Walker Defeats Tom Barrett in Wisconsin Recall

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- Embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker managed to hang onto his job Tuesday when the state’s voters backed the Republican lawmaker in a historic recall election against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee. ABC News projects Walker will win the Wisconsin recall election.
Walker’s victory over Barrett -- his second in the last two years -- signaled a massive victory for Republicans in this battleground state, which opted for President Barack Obama by nearly 15 percent just four years ago. The recall election, with its fierce debate over how to resolve the country’s budget woes, has been viewed as a possible preview of what to expect this fall when Obama battles presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney for the Oval Office.
Despite the perceived ramifications for November, neither Obama nor Romney campaigned in Wisconsin for Walker and Barrett. Instead, high-profile Republican governors Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana stumped for Walker, while former President Bill Clinton appeared at a rally for Barrett last Friday in Milwaukee. On Election Day, Obama sent a blast email to supporters praising the mayor.
“Tom has spent his career fighting for economic security and fairness for middle-class families,” Obama wrote. “He’s been a dedicated congressman and a great mayor, and he would make an outstanding governor for Wisconsin.”
However, the White House repeatedly faced questions about its decision not to help Barrett in the recall battle. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the race could not be seen as a barometer of what is to come this fall, noting Walker’s hefty fundraising advantage: total spending topped $62 million and Walker accounted for almost half of that.
“A race where one side is outspending the other by a ratio of at least eight to one probably won’t tell us about a future race,” Carney said.
Despite Barrett’s defeat, Obama still enjoys an advantage over Romney in the Badger State. According to preliminary exit poll results, Wisconsin voters said they favor Obama over Romney by 53 percent to 47 percent. But some analysts believe the state’s recall race does offer a glimpse of the future.
“Wisconsin is a preview of what the November election is going to look like in many of these swing states,” ABC News political director Amy Walter said, “and that is millions and millions of dollars spent just to try to influence a dwindling percentage of swing voters and the two sides working very hard to make sure that their voters come and turn out.”

Although Walker and Barrett lodged a number of attacks against one another during the brief four-week campaign, at the heart of the recall was a controversial law proposed and ultimately signed by Walker in the winter of 2011, which greatly limited the power of public sector unions in the state -- including limiting their collective bargaining rights.

The law sparked a firestorm in Wisconsin (and across the country). Recall elections were held against nine state senators in the summer of 2011, resulting in the ousting of two Republican state senators. One million signatures were collected to recall the controversial governor.
However, other voters at a Milwaukee polling station on Lake Michigan said Walker deserved praise -- not scorn -- for his bold actions. Walker’s decision to address Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit by slashing spending on government workers has helped improve the state’s shortfall. Walker’s office now projects a balance of $154.5 million by the end of the 2013 fiscal year. The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.7 percent in January 2011 to 6.7 percent in April 2012.
Only two governors have ever been successfully recalled -- Lynn Frazier of North Dakota in 1921 and Gray Davis of California in 2003.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Whatever Walker’s Fate, Obama Leads Romney in Wisconsin

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Whatever Scott Walker’s fate, Barack Obama may drag some bragging rights out of the Wisconsin governor’s recall election: Voters in preliminary exit poll results Tuesday say they favor Obama over Mitt Romney in November’s presidential election by a slight six-point margin (51-45 percent).

These results are preliminary so it remains to be seen if that result will hold in final exit poll results later Tuesday night. If so, it might provide Obama forces with pushback should Walker, the incumbent Republican, prevail in the recall election against Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.

Barrett lost to Walker when the two faced off in 2010. One possible boost for Barrett this year comes from union voters: Nearly a third of voters in preliminary exit poll results say they’re from union households, up from 26 percent two years ago. And slightly more than half say they have a favorable impression of public employee unions; restrictions on such unions that were backed by Walker led to the recall.

But voters in these preliminary results divide almost exactly evenly on Walker’s handling of those unions, with high levels of strong sentiment on both sides.

The division between Democrats and Republicans is much like it was in 2010, with both their numbers slightly down, and an apparent increase in turnout by independents in these preliminary results. Partisan divisions are very similar to their levels two years ago -- but with an apparent rise in opposition to the Tea Party political movement, expressed by 31 percent in 2010, vs. 36 percent in these preliminary results.

Another result, at the same time, holds some promise for Walker: Wisconsin voters are more apt to say government “is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals” than to say it “should do more to solve problems.” That’s about the same as it was in 2010; the former view typically draws more votes for Republican candidates.

Voters express identical opinions of both political parties -- 50 percent with an unfavorable view of the Democrats, identical for the Republicans. And there’s a sour note for the recall process itself: Six in 10 say recalls are appropriate only for reasons of official misconduct. They showed up to vote nonetheless.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


All Eyes on Wisconsin Recall Election as Voters Head to Polls

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- The November duel for the White House between President Obama and Mitt Romney is five months away, but the battleground state of Wisconsin may provide a preview Tuesday of what is to come when voters head to the polls to vote on whether to recall controversial Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker, a Republican who only came into office 18 months ago, has come under fire for stripping most public unions of their collective bargaining rights in an effort to cut the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

Furious with Walker's plan, his opponents occupied the State Capitol in Madison last winter and collected around a million votes in their bid to oust the governor, well more than the 540,000 they needed to force a recall vote.

Now, Walker has to defeat his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, if he is to hang on to his job.

Viewed as a test of how far politicians can go to fight special interests during a time of widespread budget problems, the Walker recall fight has drawn the national spotlight -- especially since Wisconsin is a key state in the race for the Oval Office.

"Collective bargaining would only make it more difficult to balance the budget.  We are moving things forward," Walker said in an interview Monday on FOX Business Network.  "Beyond Wisconsin, why many of my fellow reform-minded governors are here in the state of Wisconsin helping us out, is they understand this is a sign about whether or not elected officials have the courage to take on these tough issues."

Republican governors like Chris Christie of New Jersey, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have all visited the Badger State to boost Walker's chances, but Barrett received some help of his own last Friday when a bigger political star than any of the GOP politicians came to Milwaukee on his behalf: former President Bill Clinton, who told voters that they faced a choice between "people who want to work together to solve problems and people who want to divide and conquer."

While the recall election may foreshadow what lies ahead this fall when Obama and Romney duke it out, neither of them came to Wisconsin to support Barrett or Walker.

Walker claimed Monday that Obama's decision not to help the Barrett campaign in Wisconsin was "a sign there is real concern" within the White House about Barrett's chances.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the Wisconsin race is "unique" and Obama has outlined where he stands.

"The fact is the president has made clear all along his opposition to those who would take away workers' rights, to actions that would take away or diminish workers' rights. And he's also made clear his support for Tom Barrett," Carney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Recall Election Seen as Referendum

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- In a battle viewed largely as a barometer for November's showdown between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Wisconsin voters on Tuesday will decide whether to oust Gov. Scott Walker for what Democrats contend is an unacceptable attack on organized labor by the GOP lawmaker.

During the winter of 2011, the Badger State became locked in a standoff as Walker pushed to roll back union rights for many public employees, infuriating labor groups in the state and around the country.  While the governor ultimately succeeded in signing a law that stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights on pensions and health care, and limited their pay increases, the backlash against Walker set the stage for this week's recall vote.

"It's a statement about what role we think the public sector ought to play," said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  "There are fundamental differences between the two parties here, and they mimic the debate in Washington.  Republicans want to reduce the size of government, and they view the public sector as a hindrance to job growth, while Democrats want to use the public sector to spur job growth, promote fairness and serve as a safety net.  We can't do both.  Wisconsin is a swing state, and it represents a lot of the diversity we find in the country in general, so for that reason I think the recall here is a symbol of the larger argument going on."

Recent polls show Walker leading his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  A survey of likely voters conducted by Marquette University Law School from May 23-26 showed Walker with a 52 percent to 45 percent advantage over Barrett.  But public polling can be unpredictable because of the special nature of the summertime election, and that poll came before the two opponents engaged in a heated debate last Thursday night.

Much of Thursday's debate focused not only on the dispute over collective bargaining, but, as in the general election battle between Obama and Romney, on the economic hardships facing many voters.

"We have a plan," said Walker.  "It's a plan that's working.  It's moving this state forward.  That's the choice people have to make."

But Barrett fought back, arguing that Walker's policies are "working for the wealthiest people in the state, but they're not working for the middle class."

Wisconsin is a key swing state in this fall's presidential race, with top Republican officials predicting doom for Obama -- who won the Badger State by nearly 15 percent in 2008 -- if Walker wins the recall, even though the Marquette poll found Obama with 51 percent support among likely voters, compared with 43 percent for Romney.

"One thing is really clear here: If Walker wins on Tuesday, which we are really confident he will, Obama's going to have a much tougher road ahead in Wisconsin this fall," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus told reporters last week.  "Certainly [if] Wisconsin goes red I think it's lights out for Barack Obama."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Recall Election Spending Tops $60 Million

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- The next big date on the electoral calendar isn’t in November, it’s next week.

On June 5,  Republican Gov. Scott Walker faces off against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a recall election. The race has received a great deal of attention both inside and outside the state, and spending has topped $60 million, according to figures from the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Almost half of the $62 million spent so far has come from Walker. Campaign finance reports show that the embattled governor has spent $29 million on the race. Democratic candidates have spent around $4 million, with Barrett accounting for about $2.9 million of that total. The remaining money has come from outside spending groups, about $21.5 million from the groups that have reported their spending.

The Wisconsin Democracy campaign estimated that an additional $7.5 million has been spent by “issue ad” groups, but that figure is likely a conservative estimate, said the group’s executive director, Mike McCabe.

“There’s no public record that can be used to estimate or quantify what these groups spend,” McCabe told ABC News. “It’s really hard to put a price tag on direct mail that’s being sent out. We don’t have good sources of data on Internet advertising, even radio is hard to track. So they’re clearly conservative numbers, but they’re based on known activity, particularly television advertising.”

Some of the issue groups identified as participating in the recall include Americans for Prosperity, the Republican-affiliated organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, and the Greater Wisconsin Political Fund, a 527 arm of the Democratically affiliated group Greater Wisconsin.

The $60 million may pale in comparison to the reported $1 billion spending plans of Republican-affiliated outside groups in the lead-up to the election in November, but for a single statewide race it’s an extremely high figure.  Spending in the Republican Senate primary in Texas, for example the most expensive Senate race in the country, totaled $25.5 million before this week’s primary.

Walker, 44, has also led the Democrats raising money. The governor has raised $30.5 million since January 2011, the vast majority of which came in since the recall efforts began in November.

Barrett, 58, has raised $3.9 million since entering the race in March, but a larger percentage of his donations have come from in-state. Seventy-four percent of Barrett’s individual donations have come from Wisconsin residents, while 38 percent of Walker’s individual donations have come from in-state.

The large percentage of money coming from out of state is unprecedented for Wisconsin, says McCabe.

“Obviously, one thing that’s really striking here is just the sheer volume of money that’s being spent, but the other thing that’s really striking is how much money is coming from out of state,” McCabe said. “We’ve never seen this much outside interference. Most of the money that’s been spent in this race has been spent by people who can’t vote in the election. That’s unprecedented for this state.”

Powerful surrogates have gone to Wisconsin to campaign for both candidates. Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have campaigned for Walker, and Thursday reports emerged that Bill Clinton will travel to Wisconsin to campaign for Barrett.

Recent polling shows Walker with a lead over Barrett. A poll released on Wednesday from Marquette University Law School showed Walker with a seven-point lead heading into the final slog of the campaign, outside of the polls margin of error of 4.1 percent. Walker had 52 percent to Barrett’s 45 percent.

For all the money that’s been spent, the polling numbers have been fairly consistent, said McCabe.

“So far, the tens of millions of dollars that have been spent on ads don’t seem to have moved the needle very much,” McCabe said. “Poll numbers haven’t changed much. Walker’s approval ratings haven’t changed. So the tens of millions spent don’t seem to have changed very many minds."

“I don’t think the ads are as effective in this election as they normally are. I actually think a lot of this money will be wasted. I think the election will really come down to who gets out the vote, I think it really will be decided by a ground gain, not the air wars.”

Democrats and Republicans in the state are likely to agree with that assessment. Officials for both state parties maintain that the election will be driven by turnout, and both parties claim large ground operations.

This is, at least to some degree, because polling has shown Walker to be a polarizing figure. It doesn’t appear as though there are many undecided in the race.

“I think that in this election, you have very few undecided voters, people either love Scott Walker or they hate Scott Walker with a passion. There’s not much in between with the guy....I think this is an unusual election because there just aren’t many undecideds here,” said McCabe.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Democrats Face Hurdles Ahead of Recall

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- With just under two weeks to go until the recall election in Wisconsin, Democrats appear to be facing rising odds in their quest to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The race is still competitive, but Walker, 44, appears to have an edge in fundraising, recent polls and party enthusiasm in his challenge from Democratic candidate Tom Barrett.

“I think it’s still competitive, I think there’s still a chance for Barrett to win.  But right now most of the forces are pushing in favor of Walker,” said Barry Burden, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Democrats face a large fundraising disadvantage in the state, as Walker has pulled in over $25 million in fundraising since the recall efforts first began.

The reason for Walker’s fundraising advantage is two-fold.  First, Walker benefited from a quirk in Wisconsin state election law that allowed him to raise unlimited funds beginning in early November when a recall committee first registered with the state’s accountability board, through the time when the board certified the recall election on March 30.  Second, Democratic fundraising was split as a result of a hard fought primary between top officials in the state.

The Democratic primary was mostly contained to Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.  Although Barrett, 58, eventually defeated Falk by more than 20 points in the primary, Falk was seen as the preferred candidate for many labor unions, the original driving force behind the recall.  Barrett and Falk split the fundraising support, with Falk receiving the majority of union donations.

Walker had the backing of the Republican Governor’s Association, the committee which oversees gubernatorial races, since the signatures were first turned in back in January.  The Democratic Governor’s Association stayed neutral during their party’s primary.

By the time Barrett won the nomination, Walker enjoyed a 25 to 1 fundraising advantage over the Milwaukee mayor, with just four weeks until the election, according to figures from the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  The party has since rallied around Barrett, and the DGA is running ads on his behalf, but time is simply not on the Democrats side.

The latest polling from Marquette Law School showed Walker with a six point lead among likely voters over Barrett -- 50 percent to 44 percent -- outside of the polls margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent.

Republicans appear to have an enthusiasm advantage over Democrats in the recall as well, polling indicates.  According to Marquette Law School polling, 91 percent of Republicans say they’re “absolutely certain” to vote on June 5, while only 83 percent of Democrats and Independents responded the same way.

Democratic officials in the state point out that the polling was conducted May 9-12, just days after Barrett won his party’s nomination on May 8.  In the time since the primary, Barrett has gained ground in fundraising and spending.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Recall Primary: Tom Barrett Wins Democratic Nod

Hemera/Thinkstock(MILWAUKEE) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday. This means Barrett will go head-to-head with embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the rare recall election on June 5.

Barrett, who also ran against Walker in 2010, was expected to win his party’s nomination. Polls had showed him with a large lead over former Dane county executive Kathleen Falk, who was viewed as his biggest competitor and had been endorsed by many of the labor organizations in the state. With 33 percent of precincts reporting, Barrett led Falk 54.7 percent to 37 percent.

Enthusiasm has run high in Wisconsin ahead of the recall election. Walker, Barrett and Falk each reported raising large sums of money. Though at slightly under $1 million each, Falk and Barrett have been far outpaced by Walker, who has raised $13 million between mid-January, when the recall was officially announced, and mid-April.

The Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, predicted turnout for the primary would be between 30 and 35 percent of the voting age population, notably higher than the 25 percent that turned out for the presidential primary April 3.

A Marquette Law School poll released at the beginning of May showed Barrett and Walker in a statistical dead heat.

If Walker loses the election, he will be the third governor in U.S. history to be recalled from office. He is the first governor in Wisconsin’s history to face a recall election, which was initiated after the governor moved to curtail the rights of some unionized state workers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wis. Recall: Gov. Walker in Dead Heat with Top Democrat

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- A new Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin shows Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett within a single percentage point of Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a head-to-head matchup of the recall election.

Barrett, who ran against Walker in 2010 and was defeated by a margin of five percentage points, has a 47-46 lead over Walker among all registered voters. However, when the pool is narrowed to likely voters, the lead flips, and Walker has one percentage point over Barrett, 48 percent to 47 percent.

Barrett seems poised to be the Democrats’ choice to battle Walker in the June 5 recall election. With less than a week until the May 8 Democratic primary, the Marquette poll shows Barrett with a 38-21 lead over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk -- a big increase from the last Marquette poll in March, which showed Barrett up by only seven points.

The numbers represent a strong improvement for Barrett among both Democrats and Republicans.

“Despite Barrett’s late entry into the race, he has improved his position both among Democratic primary voters and in the general recall contest against Walker. Barrett trailed Walker by six percentage points in January but cut that to two points in March. The contest is now essentially a tie,” writes Marquette Law School poll director Charles Franklin.

With a little over a month until election day, donors in both parties are opening up their wallets to help with the cause.

Figures released earlier in the week showed that Walker had raised a staggering $13 million from mid-January until the end of April. Walker has raised more than $25 million to fight his recall election, undoubtedly benefiting from a quirk in Wisconsin election law that allowed him to raise unlimited funds during the time signatures for his recall were being gathered and approved.

Some 66 percent of the $13 million he took in during the first few months of 2012 came from donors living outside of Wisconsin.

Barrett has actually been out-fundraised by Democratic challenger Kathleen Falk, who brought in $977,059 to Barrett’s $831,508. However, $332,162 of Falk’s money has come from outside spending groups, while almost all of Barrett’s money has come from individual donors. Barrett also entered the race in March, almost three months after Falk.

Walker is the first governor in Wisconsin state history to face a recall, mainly over his push to strip some state unionized workers of their collective bargaining rights. If he is defeated, he will be the third governor in U.S. history to be recalled.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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