Though the recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker has not officially begun, two of the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates (Kathleen Falk and Kathleen Vinehout) have started campaigning in earnest.
Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the favorite of Wisconsin’s labor union leadership, has already locked up endorsements from WEAC, EMILY’s List, and AFSCME (among others), and Falk has already assembled a campaign team full of seasoned political hands. Falk is also campaigning full-time across Wisconsin, and her campaign has started reaching out to progressive blogs for some favorable coverage. No doubt Falk will be able to raise bucketloads of money for her gubernatorial campaign thanks to her labor union endorsements, which would seem to make her the odds-on favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
In contrast, Democratic State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout’s gubernatorial campaign has been relatively quiet in comparison to Falk’s. While Vinehout has been making campaign appearances – including a stop at this month’s meeting of the Democratic Part of Milwaukee County – her campaign has definitely taken on the role as the scrappy underdog campaign. While I get regular emails from Falk’s campaign updating me on this or that development with the campaign, I have yet to get a single email from Sen. Vinehout’s campaign. If the scrappy underdog campaign wants to be able to effectively counter the buckets of money raised (and spent) by the frontrunner, it needs to do a superior job of engaging voters using internet, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc., and thus far Kathleeen Vinehout’s campaign has unfortunately failed in that regard.
Having met Sen. Vinehout, I can say she’s certainly a candidate that’s worth consideration, but first she’ll need to figure out how to use nontraditional means to raise her profile.