Rendell: Wisconsin recall a 'dumb political fight' for labor to pick

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) ripped the unions and activists who charged forward in trying to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wednesday, calling the push a political blunder.

"It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker's reelection," Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker's policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall.

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"There are a lot of people who voted on principle against a recall because they don't believe recalling someone for other than a crime or downright corruption is appropriate," he said. "I would have had a tough time voting for the recall. If we're pissed off at what a person does in office the answer is to beat them when they're up for reelection."

Rendell's comments echo some made by some Wisconsin Democratic strategists who early on argued against a recall because Walker would be able to raise unlimited funds and that the recall format was problematic for their side.

Walker beat Barrett by 53 to 46 percent. Rendell said organized labor remained a potent political force despite the results but that they had "absolutely" mishandled the election.

Republicans jumped on the results to argue that Wisconsin is in play in the fall and that the public opposed union rights, but Rendell strongly disagreed, arguing that Walker's huge cash advantage and people's hesitance about recalling a governor based on policy made the race an unusual one. He said that a better test case for people's opinions on organized labor was their overwhelming victory last year in repealing an anti-union bill in Ohio.

"I don't think it was quite as devastating a defeat for labor or Democrats as people are construing." he said. "Don't discount the Ohio vote. That was on a principle, not on a recall. You might make a case that the Ohio vote was a clear test ... This was a recall, not a straight up and down vote on what Walker did. You don't try to recall Walker because he's done something you disagree with. And if you reverse the money, I have no doubt Walker would have lost."

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