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Mary Burke: No Promise Strategy?

Many Progressives are less than enthused about Mike Tate’s early endorsement of Mary Burke, as many of them believe that we need to let the primary process run its course. Many of these same people are holding out for a more progressive candidate to enter the race.  One name most often mentioned is, Kathleen Vinehout. Vinehout has been hinting at a run for the state’s highest office and is expected to make an announcement in early 2014.

In the meantime, former Trek executive, Mary Burke, is pushing her campaign across the state.

Most recently, during an interview, she expressed that she would make no promises during her campaign.  At first glance, this sounds as though she is making a “wishy-washy” start.  Upon further examination, is it possible that this is all part of her strategy to make a wider appeal to voters?

In 2010, Scott Walker ran on a platform of creating 250,000 jobs.  After his implementation of Act 10, along with other failed policies, Wisconsin’s economy has been sinking like a stone.  Ranking 45th in job creation, we are a long way away from that magic number of 250,000.  Walker has recently started backing away from that promise, as Wisconsin voters take notice and poll numbers reflect.

Is Burke’s “no promise” strategy actually a dig at Scott Walker?  Is she quietly getting into the psyche of Wisconsin voters in a way that they turn on Walker and pull a lever marked “D” in 2014?

Elections depend on a lot of circumstances.  2006 and 2008 were both referendums on George W. Bush.  2010 was a republican wave, brought to us by “astroturf protests” against big government and healthcare reform (all of which was gladly funded by right-wing billionaires).  2012 was supposed to be a referendum on Barack Obama, and maybe it was, but it backfired on the GOP as he was re-elected, expanded his majority in the Senate, and gained seats in the House.

The point is that elections are not just won by a strong candidate (ie. Feingold v. Johnson), but by a “feeling” or “desire” in the electorate at that time.

Most elections are won in the center.  Roughly 40% of us always vote Democrat, and 40% always vote Republican.  The remaining 20% (more specifically, just over half of that 20%) are swayed by things like the overall “feel of the nation.”  This is where Mary Burke is finding her niche.  She is a successful businesswoman who is rather middle-of-the-road politically, and she is taking aim at those who feel let down by Walker’s failed promises.  Perhaps offering a “refreshing” campaign to lower-information voters.

Many progressives may not want to accept Burke, but we have to ask them to accept her (should she be the nominee) and cast a vote for her.  They can continue to protest and push her to the left, but we have to stop the leak in Madison by ousting Scott Walker.  Remember, FDR, JFK, and even RFK were middle-of-the-road (some may even call them center-right) before the public pushed them to the left.

As a result of gerrymandering, it will be very difficult for us to take back the State Assembly.  With that said, a true progressive wouldn’t be able to get much of anything through our bicameral legislature; but a Mary Burke may be able to stop Scott Walker, plug the leak, and derail his Presidential ambitions.  Not to mention, a win in 2014 would put her in good position to win in 2018, where she would preside over the next set of redistricting in 2021.

If we are unhappy with what Walker did to Wisconsin, but we allow him to make it to Washington….YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET.

You can hear our full thoughts here:

11 comments to Mary Burke: No Promise Strategy?

  • John Casper


    If Ms. Burke wants her campaign theme to be, “I’m not Scott Walker,” that’s her choice. If she’s got a plan for upward economic mobility that does not include fighting for collective bargaining rights, I’d like to hear it. Unions are a pain-in-the-neck, but without them, all the money flows to the 1%.

    How anyone could support Ms. Burke and not specifically mention Gov. Walker’s rejection of $800 million for high speed rail is beyond me. All the polls I see on climate change show that more and more Americans accept it.

    It’s important to note that the op-ed below is not from the full JS editorial board, but it’s still a watershed.

    “It’s time to legalize marijuana”

    It’s a message to both parties that the JS is looking very hard at legalization, because they understand all the economic benefits.

    According to the latest Gallup poll, 58% of Americans want to legalize pot.

    Tons of Wisconsin Republicans/libertarians, and wingnuts, who hate us liberal baby killers want pot legalized. It’s a textbook example of a “job-killing government regulation.”

    I would never encourage anyone, who did not already have a serious illness, to use it, but the prohibition against alcohol didn’t work either.

    Grover Norquist just gave his OK to the wingnuts to vote for taxes on pot.

    That means Grover was getting pounded by wingnuts who WANT to legalize pot.

    If Ms. Burke wants instant traction as a political force, that’s obviously the low hanging fruit. The only reason I can think of that she’s not calling for the GOP controlled state government to legalize it, fast, is because NATIONAL Democrats (that’s code for Bill and Hillary and Obama’s OFA) are telling Mike Tate that they want to save legalization as a GOTV (that’s get out the vote) for 2016. I think Mike’s getting played. Big Pharma has some synthetic pot out there that doesn’t work. They’re contributing to both parties to keep it illegal to give their researchers more time to improve the synthetic stuff. In other words, they’re afraid to compete with the real thing.

    Hemp has additional economic benefits.

    Putting pot together with aquaponics would be huge for urban agriculture in Milwaukee.

    Your omission of concerns about Trek’s outsourcing was duly noted. Pot legalization offers a perfect opportunity for Ms. Burke to meet that issue head-on. As you know the law enforcement rank and file don’t want pot legalized. I would encourage Ms. Burke’s campaign advisors to seriously consider proposing that tax revenue from marijuana sales be used to protect the jobs, wages, benefits, and retirement of law enforcement.

    That would be a huge sign of respect to PUBLIC SECTOR unions who understandably fear that Ms. Burke’s a clone of Chris Abele. More importantly it would help distance herself from the heat she’ll take in a Democratic primary (if there is one), over Trek’s outsourcing.

    “The Netherlands is closing prisons due to a serious prisoner shortage”

    As you know, the private prison business is a huge cash cow for the GOP. Incarcerating people for addiction issues is very profitable. In Wisconsin, it’s also a way to transfer the population of Milwaukee to other counties, who then receive more state dollars, because their “population,” has increased.

    Advocating “Legalization,” means Ms. Burke can more easily present herself as candidate who knows how to INTELLIGENTLY trim the cost of some of state government.


  • John Casper

    IMHO, Steve Carlson gave Ms. Burke’s campaign the best advice it could get, get her out there in groups.

    “Listening sessions,” are the latest fad and they sure make sense for someone who has very serious name recognition issues. Yes, I know she spends all day calling prospective donors. She can do that on a bus that’s going all over the state. In between calls she can get off the bus followed by her media people (who are getting video and audio).

    Early in a campaign, this stuff’s all orchestrated ahead of time. You get her supporters inside a coffee shop. Then she comes in and introduces herself as “Hi, I’m Mary Burke, I’m running for Governor.” She comes off as humble and that helps erase the “entitled little rich girl” brand that Walker’s trying to hang on her. After she gets some media exposure, all her campaign will have to do is call ahead. The coffee shops love the publicity, it’s an increase in customers. Then, however, it won’t all be supporters. If she’s lucky, her media folks will catch audio and video of some wingnut calling her names. As long as she doesn’t react, but remains poised, that’s media gold. Now the GOP has to fall-all-over-themselves apologizing for their thug.


  • Paul


    I am going to ask you the same question I ask everyone who writes a story like this : How is it we stop the crystal clear drift to the Right that is occurring in American politics if we succumb to the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils?

    Asking progressives to vote against their principles to beat Walker may help beat Walker but it won’t salvage the progressive values or promote real liberal ideas and it absolutely won’t beat Walker’s ideas. Kicking him out of office would feel great but if it doesn’t reverse his policies it really isn’t enough. The conservative base stopped supporting people who didn’t reflect their interests and they have been setting the agenda ever since. Just voting for Burke because she isn’t Walker isn’t going help my family if she won’t stand up for unions and wont stand up for real public education.

    As for Walker in Washington? I’d love to see it. I’d love to see Walker try and look like a hero in the face of divided government and the filibuster. He’d accomplish nothing.


  • If anyone is thinking that Mary Burke is not the best candidate, and desire another then the path to making that happen is raise the money to make the alternative person viable. The last I heard Vinehout, though personable and perhaps more progressive than Burke, had very little cash on hand for a statewide race. Since she plans to make an announcement in January one way or the other, and we are headed into the holiday season which is not the time to be focusing anyone on political giving, one has to ask just how serious her chances are of entering the primary. While I have not weighed into the primary topic on my blog I would suggest that everyone hold off making Burke into something that is less than desirable. I grant the fact that no one really knows where she stands on many issues, but I fear that liberals are perhaps undermining what may be our only vehicle to ride to the Governor’s office in 2014.


    • John Casper

      Gregory, with all due respect, that’s Ms. Burke’s job, and Mike Tate’s.

      The “Son of Doe,” could indict Walker, Vos, Van Hollen, and Fitzgerald. If that happens, if the charges are perceived to be serious enough, the only real election could be the Democratic primary.

      Being Governor’s a tough grueling job, just like campaigning for it. I’ve seen very little from Ms. Burke that she’s up to speed on the literally thousands of issues over which she has to be very fluent.

      What if she falls apart in the first debate?

      In Wisconsin, as a result of the line-item-veto, the Governor has enormous power. She can’t hire a consultant to do the job.

      Sen. Vinehout is not an ideal candidate for labor, but at least right now, she seems better than Ms. Burke. Will Ms. Burke promise not to sign a right-to-starve law?

      Will she promise NOT to use the same tactics to usurp local control that Walker is?

      If not, I think labor will use what’s left of their financial resources to promote Sen. Vinehout.

      Walker spent $30 million to win the recall.

      Does Ms. Burke have that kind of money?


  • nonquixote

    Thanks Eric,

    Pressure from the left, as we have seen completely ignored by our POTUS (save possibly Syria), that any Democratic candidate once elected will respond to is a pipe dream. A different climate and circumstances in the early and mid-sixties in your reference, is a historical happenstance. Since Clinton there really is not any semblance of a traditional Democratic Party. We have neoliberals posing as Democrats, quite satisfied to run the country into the ground for their private profit while professing to be upholding the, “opportunity,” to live the American Dream. Wage, health and educational debt servitude, deliberate impoverishment of the labor class is the norm and no one save Sen Ron Wyden, (D-OR) has any inclining of what an authentic Democrat should be professing and working toward if they are professing to be Democrats.

    Your allusion to low information voters maybe needing to be catered to strikes me as exactly the extremely offensive, elitist attitude being exhibited by DPW, PU and a group like Emily’s List and several supposedly D bloggers. Tate’s preferred candidate could have been anyone, this is not just a Burke criticism, but bringing this candidacy on, the way he has, is a major part of the problem and can and will be attributed to Mary Burke’s eventual defeat if she happens to be the candidate who eventually faces Walker. The Party is a party without a real base, for courting money over people over near two decades.

    Mary Burke, I am openly willing to be convinced to support her. It simply hasn’t happened yet. I’ve yet to see strength and I’ve yet to get even a hint of the, “feel or desire.”

    Remembering what Feingold did in 1992 might be a good way to envision a potential primary challenger to Burke and an eventual winner to challenge Walker and is certainly as realistic a chance to wait 6 weeks for, as money has against money in opposing Walker. However, I am still optimistic and feel that Walker can be defeated despite DPW.


  • Matthew

    So many people have been through sheer hell with Walker since day one. So many of us are hurting. 90,000 people kicked off Badger care alone, all those workers and supporters protesting in Madison standing behind their Democratic representatives that left the state and put their hearts and butts on the line. This Republican syndicate has really gone too far. Walker’s not as cocky about this John Doe investigation as he was the last one. He’s looking mighty sheepish,like maybe he knows something we don’t. It seems to have something to do with the recalls which we worked so hard for and was so disheartening to lose. We need someone that we know cares about us, not someone that’s looking past us because they are playing some kind game that they think is over our heads. We need to stand together and know we have a candidate that really is with us and understands our passion and our pain. Like Kathleen Vinehout for instance.


  • AJ

    I am still open about who I will support in a Democratic Primary. One thing Burke will have to overcome is Trek is shipping jobs overseas. Has a candidate from either party ever overcome shipping jobs overseas attack ads in an election? The Democratic Party will have to find a way to bring down Scott Walker’s perception of Wisconsin Moving Forward by tying Walker to the dysfunction in Government at a National Level.


  • John Casper


    Expanding background checks on gun sales is an issue I think Ms. Burke has a lot of room to operate. First, the NRA’s going to endorse Walker. There’s nothing she can do about that.

    Second the polls “overwhelmingly” support it. The link to Politifact’s important, because it’s a franchise in which the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel participates.

    Since Politifact agrees that the polls overwhelmingly support expanded background checks, I doubt the MJS would go against that.

    Related is another possible winner: “Law limiting release of gun-trace data blasted by chief, D.A.

    If she can use “Tiahrt” (pronounced TEE-heart) in a soundbyte, it’s going to scare the pants off of Walker, wingnut radio, and the NRA. Per John Diedrich’s excellent reporting in the link above, this is an issue she can align herself with Chief Flynn on. The icing on the cake is that she can say the magic words, “President Obama’s wrong on Tiahrt.”

    There aren’t many issues where President Obama’s going to be to the right of Chief Flynn, and I give Chief Flynn a lot of credit for standing his ground.

    If she wants to throw in something about demanding “higher standards,” for conceal&carry permits, I likewise think that’s smart. It implies she’s not going to try and overturn C&C, just make sure that the people who get it have the capacity to handle such a potentially lethal responsibility.

    That can evolve into a part of the “stump speech” /talking points that she repeats over and over again in her campaign.

    Are those talking points that Assembly and Senate Democrats can us? I sure hope so.

    Apologies if this isn’t helpful.


  • T

    To those who don’t support Mary Burke and I am undecided right now: Who is the alternative? Are one of you people on this blog going to run? Is Senator Vinehout going to run? We’re exactly one year out from the election. Is Vinehout really more progressive than Burke? What about on choice? Didn’t Vinehout only get around 4% of the vote when she ran in the recall primary (against a rather lackluster field)?

    I’d be happy to see a primary. Maybe some unknown blogger should get in and shock the world with their sweeping, liberal progressive victory. Let’s see who wins. In the meantime, stop the attacks on the only announced Democrat. You’re only helping Walker. I’ll support the winner against Walker. I really don’t care if it’s Mary Burke or someone else. Whoever gets through a primary is fine with me. They can’t be as bad as Walker.


    • John Casper


      Dems can do a lot more damage to collective bargaining than Republicans can. See Abele, Chris.

      Thanks for positioning Ms. Burke as “can’t be as bad as Walker.” That ought to generate a whole lot of donations to her campaign.

      One option is to vote for a Vichy Dem (Burke, Vinehout) in November, but contribute money and shoe leather to other Dems who have a track record on choice and collective bargaining, climate change.

      How much “better” can any Dem be than Scott Walker, if they don’t at least push for ending the job-killing-government regulations against pot. I would never encourage anyone, who did not already have a serious illness to use it, but the prohibition against alcohol didn’t work either.

      Grover Norquist just told wing nuts that it’s ok to tax pot.

      That’s because the only folks besides the law enforcement unions, alcohol distillers, and the drug gangs who support the prohibition on it are the deep pockets at Big Pharma. They have a synthetic version that doesn’t work. They want more time to work on that formulation, but they don’t want to actually compete with something that would create a lot of jobs.

      If you think the 99% in Wisconsin can regain some economic security and gasp, prosperity, without collective bargaining, please, by all means explain that.


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