Commentary Magazine


Wisconsin Surprise

The primary elections in the Wisconsin recall vote were held yesterday, and there was no surprise on the Democratic side. Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, won as expected against Kathleen Falk, the preferred candidate of the labor unions. Barrett got 57.5 percent of the votes; Falk a pretty dismal 34.7 percent, with the rest scattered among three other minor candidates. Barrett is the more moderate of the two main candidates but still advocates returning to the status quo ante including restoring collective bargaining rights to the public service unions.

But there was a surprise on the Republican side, a big one. Scott Walker faced only a fringe candidate in the Republican primary, one who posed no threat to him. Indeed, Walker won with 97 percent of the vote.

But Walker’s vote total (with 94 percent of the vote counted) was 584,929. The entire Democratic field, in a hard-fought contest, garnered only 596,089 votes. In other words, an awful lot of people turned out to support the governor and his reforms in an election he was sure to win anyway.

That’s impressive and bodes well for his chances on June 5.