As Wisconsin taxpayers are faced with an expensive recall election for Governor, rank and file members of the state’s largest teachers union are fuming mad over the endorsement of a candidate that was hand-picked by their leadership.
Kathleen Falk, the former Dane County (WI) Executive, was endorsed by WEAC bosses on February 8, 2012, with one condition: uphold a promise to veto the budget reforms instituted by Gov. Scott Walker. Hours after the endorsement, a petition on change.org was created to demand that the union rescind its endorsement of the former chief executive of the second largest county government in Wisconsin. Rank-and-file members were upset with WEAC endorsing a unproven candidate for statewide office that lost two times.
Any keen observer of Wisconsin politics knows of Falk’s failed runs for statewide office. In 2002, she finished dead last in a three-way Democratic primary for Governor to then-Governor Jim Doyle and former Congressman Tom Barrett. Four years later, Falk lost a bid to be Wisconsin’s Attorney General during a wave election for Democrats. Falk was forever infamous during the 2006 attorney general’s race for blatantly lying about J.B. Van Hollen’s role in a child sex predator case and accusing him of releasing him on bail despite the fact that he was not District Attorney at the time of release. A handful of Democrat Sheriffs and District Attorneys endorsed Van Hollen because they knew that Falk could not be trusted to be Wisconsin’s top law enforcement official.
WEAC’s rank-and-file members have every right to be upset about their leadership endorsing a unproven candidate. They are questioning if a candidate who met in secret with the union bosses is worthy of their endorsement. Could this backlash translate into support for State Senator Kathleen Vinehout who announced her intent to run on Wednesday? Only time will tell as Wisconsin’s Democrats will face a very divisive primary that will pit their grassroots versus the big labor bosses that are telling them who they should vote for.
The only person that will benefit from the union’s divisiveness is Gov. Scott Walker. As Walker will not have to face a primary election, he will enjoy a fund-raising and organizational advantage that the liberals will have a hard time replicating. The unions may face their worst nightmare during the Democratic primary if they do not listen to their front-line members that make up the Democratic Party.
Maichle, from Milwaukee, WI, is the Principal Owner and CEO of North Shore Strategy and Consulting. He previously worked for various organizations in the free-market movement for over six years.