As I write this, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (pictured, left) is the only Democrat who has formally announced her candidacy in the inevitable recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Falk has been preparing for a run in a recall election for months, and while there’s no certainty she’d emerge victorious from what will be a hotly contested Democratic primary (despite the strong support of organized labor), Falk’s record as Dane County Executive and as a former gubernatorial candidate merits some scrutiny.
If Kathleen Falk were to be the Democratic candidate for governor in a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker, here’s the first attack ad I’d expect to see run by Scott Walker against her:
Scott Walker: There’s a clear choice between us in this election between someone who has kept his promise to balance the budget without raising taxes, and someone who campaigned for governor on raising taxes. The last time Kathleen Falk ran for governor, she wanted to increase taxes by $250 million.
During her 2002 run for governor, Falk made an 85-cent-per-pack raise in the cigarette tax a key part of her campaign’s plan to help fix Wisconsin’s budget deficit.
Another line of attack against Falk will no doubt focus on her record as Dane County Executive, specifically her 2010 budget plan that increased the property tax levy by 8 percent, the largest increase in Dane County in at least 12 years. While Gov. Walker’s claim to have balanced Wisconsin’s budget deficit without raising taxes isn’t true (just ask low-income working families who qualified for the earned income credit that Scott Walker reduced), there’s no doubt in my mind that Walker’s campaign – or the outside groups allied with Walker’s campaign who will dump millions of dollars into Wisconsin – will unmercifully hammer Kathleen Falk as a “tax and spend” Madison liberal.
If Kathleen Falk does end up as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate against Scott Walker, she’s going to have to answer these inevitable attacks on her record, and I’m of the belief that the sooner she does so, the better her chances of weathering the attacks.