Governor races

Governor races

Barrett focuses on criminal probe of ex-Walker aides in debate

In a sometimes-heated final debate Thursday night, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) drilled in on the ongoing criminal investigation of some of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) former aides.

Walker and Barrett have run hard-hitting ads questioning each other's honesty in recent days — Barrett's targeted the probe, while Walker's ads have questioned whether his police department has doctored statistics on violent crime. Both topics were the focus of the debate, and showed that in a race that started out as a referendum on labor rights, the final days will be fought on more personal territory.

"I have a police department that arrests felons," Barrett said at one point, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "He has a practice of hiring them."

Thirteen former Walker aides from his time as Milwaukee County executive have been granted immunity in the case in exchange for their cooperation, including Walker's former spokeswoman at the department, whose name was added to the list this week.

Walker criticized Barrett for how his police department has handled crime statistics. Barrett has touted a drop in violent crime, but a Journal-Sentinel piece showed much of that drop might have derived from massaged statistics.

The two will face off in the recall election on Tuesday. Walker has led narrowly in most nonpartisan polls, but Barrett hopes that a visit Friday from former President Bill Clinton will help stir up enthusiasm for his campaign.

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Walker retains lead in latest poll

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has maintained his lead over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) with less than a week to go before their recall election, according to a new poll from Marquette University.

Walker leads Barrett by 52 to 45 percent, according to the poll. That's virtually unchanged from his 50 to 44 percent lead in the last poll they conducted earlier in May.

The two will face off on Tuesday. Walker has held a lead in all recent polling of the race.

The poll was conducted from May 23-26.

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GOP governors post record haul for 2011

Republican governors posted record fundraising in 2011 amid a contentious year of high-profile budget disputes in swing states like Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio, priming the GOP to solidify its hold on a majority of the nation's statehouses.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) announced late last week that it raised $44.1 million in 2011, more than double its Democratic counterpart, which announced Wednesday that it had raised just over $20 million.

“Thanks to the outstanding leadership of every Republican governor, the RGA laid the foundation in 2011 to strengthen our majority in 2012,” said RGA Chairman Bob McDonnell in a statement. “This year, the RGA will be on offense in eight of 11 states scheduled to hold governors’ races, and is in position to make game-changing investments in our races, including those in critical presidential and Senate battleground states.”

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Dems in Nevada jeer Romney with gift of $10k in poker chips

Democrats appear to have no shortage of imaginative ways to poke fun at Mitt Romney's now-famous offer to bet Rick Perry $10,000.

Nevada Democrats on Wednesday delivered $10,000-worth of poker chips to Romney's Las Vegas campaign office, in a box lined with the mock $10,000 bill that Democrats have designed with Romney's face at the center.

“While $10,000 may not be much to Mitt Romney, we wanted to make sure he could easily place a bet the size of two months salary for the average Nevada household the next time he was in town,” said Zach Hudson, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

The chips weren't purchased at a casino, so they didn't cost the party $10,000 and can't be traded in for cash. But the gimmick is part of a broad attempt by Democrats across the country to dub Romney an out-of-touch elitist by calling attention to the cavalier nature with which Romney offered a big-dollar wager to Perry. The offer came during Saturday's GOP debate when the two governors were arguing over whether Romney had removed a passage from his book.

Also on Wednesday, Democrats hired a plane to fly up and down New York City's west side with a 175-foot banner reading "Bet you 10k Romney's Out of Touch." The flight was timed to coincide with fundraisers Romney was holding in New York.

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Wisconsin groups will push to recall Gov. Walker

The Wisconsin Democratic Party and a coalition of labor groups will push to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) after all, a move that is likely to have major ramifications on other elections in the Badger State.

Walker gained nationwide attention — and infuriated Democrats and unions — when he successfully pushed last winter to strip government employees of their ability to unionize. Labor groups and the Wisconsin Democratic Party managed to recall two Republican state senators this summer, falling short of the three they needed to retake control of the state Senate but winning in two Republican-leaning districts.

The nine state Senate recall elections drew an astonishing $44 million in spending from labor groups and conservative outside groups. It is likely that this election will draw an even larger investment — and could hurt fundraising numbers for other competitive Wisconsin elections, including the one to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and the one to three possibly competitive House seats.

It will also pour gasoline on the still-smoldering ashes of the public-unions issue in Wisconsin, making it a key focal point of all elections in the state.

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate announced on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" that his group will begin the recall process soon.

"We do need to recall him from office, and we will officially file to recall him from office on Nov. 15," one year after Walker's election, he said. "Wisconsin simply can't wait, can't afford any more days of Scott Walker as our governor."

Tate said the group will exceed the 540,000 signatures necessary to petition for a recall election, and that it will take place sometime after the GOP presidential primary in April.

Walker's chief of staff and 2010 campaign manager has left the governor's office to run the campaign, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Watch Tate's announcement on the recall election here:



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Inslee running for governor in Washington

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) announced Monday that he will run for governor in 2012.

The eight-term lawmaker announced his candidacy in Seattle Monday morning. He will run against Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna (R), who has been polling well in the state, which has seen some contentious gubernatorial races.

Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who's retiring, barely beat Republican Dino Rossi in 2004 (a long recount determined the eventual winner) but did better against him in 2008, when President Obama was on top of the ticket.

This isn't the first time Inslee has tried to move to the governor's mansion. In 1996, he lost the Democratic nomination to Gary Locke, who went on to win in the general election.

Inslee's House seat, where he's easily won reelection the past few cycles, already has some contenders. On Monday, Washington state Rep. Roger Goodman (D) threw his hat into the race. Another Democrat, Laura Ruderman, and Republican James Watkins, who lost to Inslee in 2010, have also filed.

"We look forward to electing a Democrat next November who will fight against the Republicans’ plan to end Medicare and will represent the middle class families of this district," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

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