Despite polls, Wisconsin Democrats relish prospect of Gov. Walker’s recall

Wisconsin’s Democratic members of Congress remain confident about defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday – even amid polls suggesting the governor’s risk of recall is dropping.

Decmoratic Reps. Ron Kind, Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore downplayed recent nonpartisan polling showing Walker with a lead over the Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

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They defended national Democrats’ efforts in the state despite complaints from some unions that President Obama and the Democratic National Committee haven’t done enough in the race.

Moore said the DNC “brought every resource to bear” and Obama’s campaign had been “very helpful.” Kind said the DNC did “a lot” to help.

Some Democrats in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. had quietly warned against the recall. They worried the Democratic candidate would only have a month to raise money because of the structure of recall campaigns in the state.


Another concern was that a Walker win could hurt Democrats in the fall.

The governor, through a legal loophole, was able to bring in $25 million in uncapped donations leading up to the race, giving him a huge advantage.

But Kind said the recall drive was going to happen whether or not Democratic insiders wanted it to occur.

“The recall was going to happen no matter what because of the very organic nature of it,” Kind said, before adding he’d supported it from the start.

“There's no way anyone could have stepped in and stopped the petitions from going out, or the signatures from being collected. Clearly there was going to be a recall election regardless of whether any party folks had to say about it.”

Baldwin, who is running for the state’s open Senate seat, predicted Democratic activists will stay engaged in the fall no matter the results Tuesday.

But she expects a hard-fought campaign both in her race and at the presidential level.

“Wisconsin is a must-win state for the president,” she said.

“It is blue on every map I’ve seen from their campaign on their march to 270 electoral votes. There’s no doubt in my mind that the president is going to be very, very engaged in Wisconsin. But Wisconsin historically has been an evenly divided state, even though it’s gone blue every presidential year for years, and I don’t think that’s changed. Those are the conditions that we’re looking at.”

Moore was touting Barrett’s chances to some Capitol Hill staffers just off the House floor when The Hill approached her.

“Girl, we’re gonna win,” she told one. “I know that the polls look bad but the thing of it is those polls are … African Americans are only six percent of the population. They aren’t counting on us. They’re counting on the split between the majority folks. I’m telling you, it’s all going to happen.”

Some Democrats have expressed concern that turnout in African American-heavy Milwaukee has lagged a bit behind the rest of the state.

Moore, an African American congresswoman from the city, told The Hill she was working hard to get black voters as excited about the recall election as they were about reelecting President Obama.

“We have to turn out in order to win this,” she said. “It’s fair to say that the turnout November 6 will favor the president and we’re hoping to generate that kind of excitement. We’re working towards generating the same kind of excitement (in) this race based on the outrageous performance of this governor.”

Moore described Walker as a “very nasty character,” and warned that if he survived the recall it would embolden him and other Tea Party Republicans to push what she described as “corporatist interests.”

“It will embolden other Tea Party types to continue the work that he’s already started,” she said. “Of course it will embolden them. That’s why we are doubling down on our resolve to beat back this national Tea Party effort.”

Kind said that a win would be huge for Democrats heading into the fall elections — but a loss could lead to a letdown on their side.

“Ask me Wednesday,” he said when asked if the recall was a good idea politically.

“If we win it was a brilliant idea. If we don't I'm sure there will be a thousand Monday morning quarterbacks come next Wednesday.”