Walker Holds Lead Two Weeks Before Primary

According to recent polls, Gov. Scott Walker leads Democratic challengers Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk, with the recall primary less than two weeks away. Walker had been trailing the leading Democratic opponents, Kathleen Falk and Tom Barrett, in earlier polls.

The Candidates

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) is the first candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. Barrett has recently received endorsements from Representative Peter Barca (D) as well as the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. Retiring U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D) of Wisconsin has also thrown his support behind Barrett. Barrett previously lost the gubernatorial race to Walker in 2010.

The second candidate seeking the Democratic nomination is former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (D). Falk has been one of the more vocal challengers of Walker since the recall process started. Falk has drawn endorsements from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO as well as from Wisconsin Representative Chris Taylor (D).

The third candidate for the Democratic nomination is Secretary of State Doug LaFollette (D). One of LaFollette’s main platforms is removing the Department of Financial Institutions and returning important business decisions to the Secretary of State.

The fourth candidate seeking the Democratic nomination is Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D). According to her website, Vinehout’s major policy projects will involve improving education and health care in Wisconsin. Should Vinehout fail to win the Democratic nomination, she would continue her tenure on the Wisconsin Senate, as the 31st District seat is not up for election this year.

An interesting caveat to this recall primary is the presence of six “fake” or “protest” candidates.

The fifth candidate, and first “fake candidate”, Gladys Huber, is running in the Democratic primary. Huber is running as a “fake candidate” to ensure that May 8’s elections are all primaries and all of the general recall elections will take place on June 5.

One “fake candidate” will be challenging Walker in the May 8 Republican primary. Arthur Kohl-Riggs is challenging Walker in the primary for two reasons: 1) to make sure that Republicans do not cross over and vote in the democratic primary for a candidate that they feel will be easy for Walker to defeat and 2) to add some honesty and humor to the race. The real humor lies in the double standard that Kohl-Riggs has created: while the Democrats do not want Republicans crossing over to vote for Democrats in the election, chances are many Democrats will vote for Kohl-Riggs in the primary and attempt to knock Walker out before the June general election arrives.

The GAB recently denied challenges seeking to remove the “fake candidates” from the ballots. “We are being asked … to determine whether candidates are lying,” said Board Member Timothy Vocke. “That is an impossible task for this Board or anybody else to solve. It is something strictly for the voters to do.” Questioning a candidate’s political belief, the GAB said, would threaten that candidate’s First Amendment rights to free speech and association.

The seventh candidate, Hari Trivedi (I), is running as an Independent. Trivedi is known around Wisconsin for appearing in Super Bowl Commercials to spread his message.

Current Polls

The latest poll shows Barrett leading Falk 38% to 24% in the Democratic primary. This poll included 502 likely Democratic primary voters and was conducted on April 16 and 17.

The latest poll for June’s general election surveyed 1136 voters and includes a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. According to this poll, Gov. Walker holds a five-point lead on Barrett (50-45) and a seven-point lead on Falk (50-43). Walker’s leads over Vinehout and LaFollette are in excess of ten points.

This post was authored by Hamilton Consulting intern Andrew Bassan, a 2L at the University of Wisconsin Law School.