Governor Scott Walker v. The Bright Line

Well, Wisconsin’s governor has been traipsing the country in search of fame and campaign fortune. He put together a speech for the popular CPAC2012 convention over the weekend. Here it is in its entirety.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still very much like the changes we’ve enjoyed in Wisconsin. But I am worried. I have a hard time moving past the potential damage that could be done by ignoring the reality of these emails. Here’s a link to the raw data if you are so inclined to see for yourself.

You see, Wisconsin has always insisted on a bright line between public work and campaigning. And if Darlene Wink has been charged, I have to concede the emails I read crossed that line, too.

Nothing worries me more in this matter, though, than the mystery dumpster. MJS columnist Dan Bice alluded to the dumpster detail he wrote last week in a tweet to me a few days before the article.

What the heck was a LOCKED dumpster doing in a county parking facility?

It’s going to get ugly. And here’s the call: if Governor Scott Walker knows he’s got a problem, he needs to let the party find someone to run in whatever recall primary develops. Listen, gov, you may actually have the titanium balls others credit you to possess, but you screw with my Republican majority in Wisconsin and I’m going to be really hacked about it.

You know it’s bad when James Wigderson asks the Governor for a little accountability.

The public is waiting for an explanation. Who can give it?

Someone get on this. I kind of hate it when Dan Bice turns out to be my primary news source. So far, I’ll concede, he’s the guy to watch. He knows more than he’s telling us now. Sadly for Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker appears to be that elusive journalistic endeavor: the story that just keeps on giving.


  1. It is all very troublesome, indeed. I had friends calling me about Governor Walker’s speech to CPAC, which they said was very very good. And that he was even presidential material. I cautioned them not to get too optimistic about that in light of the on-going investigation. It’s getting serious on so many levels. My hope is that there aren’t any more reasons for charges. However, what’s happened has happened and now the law must takes it course.

  2. All I can say is… this is a reason why an honest primary… and not an anointment by the Party Elite is so important for politics.

    If there had been a real primary between Neumann and Walker, where the State GOP didn’t protected Walker… would any of this have come out then?

  3. A GOP primary in the recall race would almost certainly hand the race to the Democrats, as it would be a sign of weakness.

    I think with someone like Walker you need to take the good with the bad. He isn’t as clean as Wisconsin would like, but a “nice guy” wouldn’t have gotten the budget bill passed last year without compromising away the most important parts (the collective bargaining changes and the concessions on costs).

  4. We are in fiscal crisis but are willing to dump someone who has taken an adult stand to do something about it, all over emails? Politics is dirty and Democrats have done the same things and, to think otherwise is naïve, but they control the legal processes in Dane and Milwaukee counties and are seldom a subject of a witch hunt.

  5. Randy in Richmond says:

    Around here a locked dumpster generally means the public at large is dumping trash where they don’t have permission and the easiest solution–lock it.

  6. Thanks Randy. That’s a good point. I appreciate it.

    Leapin – I’m sorry. I just can’t go down the “everyone is doing it path.” As I said. There is a bright line in this state. It should not be crossed. We play the game hard around here. It’s not like folks haven’t been caught before.

    Nick – Bravo! Loved that comment.

    KPOM – Whoa. If Walker is stripped of his nice guy image it will be damning indeed.

  7. @Cindy, Walker doesn’t have a “nice guy” image. 45% of the state hates him. About another 45% are behind him, and last time most of the remaining 10% were willing to back him as they were tired of Doyle and the budget mess. Walker is the kind of politician you have around for 1-2 terms to shake things up and fix what needs to be fixed.

  8. Randy in Richmond says:

    I read Walker’s speech and thought it well done. One statistic that caught my eye was the amount some teacher’s could save by not having forced state withholding as a union member. Understand Virginia is a right to work state and unions have very little influence here. So my knowledge of specifics about them is limited.

    How are union dues determined? Is it a percentage or flat rate? And is the governor’s statement that union costs to an employee can be as much as $1400/yr. accurate?

  9. I’d urge you to not fall for this. We’re in a campaign and the largest democratic county in the state is trying to get something on Governor Walker before he stands for recall. It may escalate before the election but when the election is over it will likely not amount to anything but will have already done its damage. Similar to 2006 and Mark Greens campaign cash. And it’s Bice. He wants something to be there because he needs something to be there. Also a locked dumpster doesn’t mean anything. One person puts a lock on a dumpter in a county parking garage and it means the county executive is invloved in crooked behavior? I would also sure hope the courthouse locks some of its dumpsters for personal information that could be contain on or in items being disposed of, like my social security number on a court related document. This is how bad this investigation is going that they are resorting to looking through a dumpter. If it was going somewhere they wouldn’t need to do that because they would do the easy work first like looking through files, documents and emails. What’s next tear up i43 next to the courthouse because Walker may have thrown an incriminating document out the window before they paved over it during construction.

  10. Patrick – Bice does whatever Bice needs to do to sell papers. I’ve seen him take on Dems, too.

    “One person puts a lock on a dumpster in a county parking garage…” That happens to be requested by the DA.

    We can certainly agree the DA needs to nail this investigation instead of dragging it out. To lengthen the timeline will be seen as a pure political play and negate the importance of any findings.

    Is it to much to ask that everyone simply do a job well? Sadly, I’m beginning to believe that simple request is an impossible dream in this state. Don’t get me wrong. I love the changes. I just wish they could have been made without so much schist flinging.

    (Schist flinging is a borrowed phrase from a dear friend, BTW. I’m not that clever.)

  11. He may be a conservative star, but I am still leaning towards SKW not surrounding himself with an A team. I do worry this will be a mess, let’s hope Patrick is right and it isn’t.

    BTW – I’d contend that there was a whole lot of dirty pool played in WI politics until the bright line appeared in 2002 with the charging of Brian Burke. To me it is a newly found sense of ethics, very lopsided in enforcement.

  12. Really great perspective, as usual, Bdad. Thanks.

  13. @KPOM – I think that’s total BS. I believe there was a false notion floating that because Barrett didn’t have a primary opponent, he would be in better shape for the election than Walker if he had a primary opponent, so Neumann was silenced to even the field, so to speak.

    What this doesn’t take into account is that during the primary, both Neumann and Walker would be in the news not just going after each other (which they did, but not horribly) but also bashing Barrett and making him sound worse. In the mean time, Barrett would have very little news coverage because there was nothing going on with his campaign of significance if he didn’t have a primary opponent (besides Tim John, who is a nice guy).

    Moreover, it forces both candidates early on to solidify their message, and also gives them an opportunity to find their weaknesses early and repair them before the general campaign happens.

    Why Republicans doubt this baffles me. I hear Republicans all the time talking about how they love free markets because competition makes everyone better and stronger. Yet when it comes to an election, all of a sudden competition is a sign of weakness. And you know what… that’s exactly right. If you are afraid to have a primary campaign, then that means you are already admitting you are already weak, and you shouldn’t be running in the first place.

  14. Nicely said Nick. Thanks.

  15. @Nick, a recall election isn’t the same as a regular election. By running a primary, your are acknowledging the legitimacy of the recall process. By refusing to primary Walker, the GOP would be sending a message that the use of a recall as a “do-over” for a policy dispute (rather than simply as a move to remove a corrupt official) was wrong.

  16. @KPOM – I wasn’t talking about a primary during the recall… My original comment regarding Walker and primaries was during the general election.

    Walker was appointed by the Wis GOP, and everything was done by the party to stop Neumann from being able to have an honest primary campaign against Walker.

    Nobody should be given that kind of ability. That made Walker both weak, and also even more full of himself… which is never a good thing for someone who is trying to do major reforms.