Barrett & Falk battle over endorsements

As the Democratic gubernatorial recall primary continues to intensify, the campaigns of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk have each announced a series of endorsements of their respective campaigns.

Earlier this week Falk’s campaign picked up the endorsement of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, an endorsement that should come as no surprise considering her campaign has already been endorsed by AFSCME and WEAC. Here’s what Phil Neuenfeldt, president of Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said about the AFL-CIO’s endorsement of Falk:

Kathleen’s dedication to improving the lives of working people and strengthening our middle class communities are key reasons for her endorsement. She has dedicated her life working for and listening to the people of Wisconsin. Her style of clean, open and honest government is the type of leadership Wisconsin needs.

Mayor Barrett’s gubernatorial campaign also picked up a number of key endorsements this week, landing the support of outgoing Democratic U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, who said of Barrett’s candidacy,

I’m supporting Tom Barrett for governor. While I wouldn’t ordinarily endorse in a primary, this is no ordinary race or time. Tom’s decision to run speaks volumes about who Tom is — a strong leader known around the state as someone who will work with everyone to help bring Wisconsinites together and move our state forward again. Tom and I have worked together for years, and his commitment to the people he represents is as strong as his many accomplishments. Whether it’s working with businesses to create jobs, protecting education or standing up for working families, Tom will be an effective and forward-thinking governor for all of our state.

Sen. Kohl’s endorsement came on the heels of former Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Obey’s endorsement of Barrett’s campaign on Monday, while on Tuesday Barrett’s campaign was endorsed by former Democratic Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.

On Thursday Barrett’s campaign also picked up the endorsements of the statewide Amalgamated Transit Union, Operating Engineers Local 317, and the Iron Workers District Council of North Central States.

While Barrett’s campaign may have picked up more endorsements than Falk’s this week, Falk’s campaign has already been endorsed by the Sierra Club, EMILY’s List, and the SEIU Wisconsin State Council, among a long list of endorsements.


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18 thoughts on “Barrett & Falk battle over endorsements

  1. Herb Kohl was a big supporter of the so-called Bankruptcy Reform Act which went into effect just in time to trap working class people in debt during the Great Recession. Before this law was passed I sent him a letter explaining my opposition to the bill and got back a condescending response from his staff that explained it was needed in order to crack-down on irresponsible borrowers. If that isn’t a definition of the thinking of the 1% I don’t know what is.

    Whatever you think of Herb Kohl, he was never a traitor to his class.

    1. Gareth, which of the two Great Recessions are you referring to? The one that began at the end of George H. W. Bush’s presidency, or the one that began at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency? For that matter, which “so-called Bankruptcy Reform Act” are you referring to?

      This might be an alien concept to you, but people are supposed to settle their debts. People do have the freedom of choice to NOT live beyond their means, you know.

      I lost my job during the first Bush Great Recession, and it was years before I was earning enough money to be able to start to pay back the credit card debt that I had suddenly had no means to cover. I took all of the collection notices and threats over the phone like a man, and with great effort I finally settled all of my debts.

      Even after my net worth returned to the positive side of the scale, I lived within my means. I had friends who were spending over 50% of their incomes on rent or mortgages on fancy digs. I followed the “1/4 gross, 1/3 net” rules of thumb, and when the housing boom came I decided I wasn’t financially stable enough to commit to a 30+ year mortgage.

      All I did was make reasonable and responsible choices. That’s something that anybody can do, and if they don’t they really have no reason to complain. To quote Chris Rock:

      (People) always want credit for some s*** they supposed to do. A (person) will brag about some s*** a normal man just does. A (person) will say some s*** like, “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb m*****f*****! What kind of ignorant s*** is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having m*****f*****!

      I’ve spent most of my adult life living close to the poverty line, on both sides of it. Not once has my income exceeded the average income for my demographic. I’ve come close a couple times, but never cracked it. I never got a break in my life. So if I can have zero debt and a modest cushion of money in the bank, anybody can.

  2. The endorsement game requires investigation. Accepting big money (lobbying successfully is expensive) and factional policy differences between national offices and regional or state organizations demands close inspection to formulate a real value of drawback to any endorsement.

  3. Herb Kohl and Tom Barrett are definitely in the same camp with Dave Obey. I don’t break with John Nichols often, but he did make what I considered a flawed characterization of Tom Barrett when he described him as a “progressive legislator.” Tom Barrett is no progressive. If his own approach to governance isn’t enough to suggest it, Rahm Emanuel’s endorsement should cement it in stone. As for Obey’s endorsement, I’d say look at the source: He left public service to join Gephardt Government Affairs – the lobbying group whose clients include Goldman Sachs and Miracle-Gro.

    Union endorsement of Kathleen Falk encompasses everything that is lacking in the recall conversation and Falk’s reciprocation is equally absurd. For the AFL-CIO to reiterate the endless (and empty) rhetoric that narrows down to “working people” “middle class” and “taxpayers” doesn’t sway. And Falk’s attempt to cast herself simultaneously as “Wisconsin folksy,” “homegrown” and “experienced” and “savvy” doesn’t resonate.

    Let the wookie win. Vote Alan Grayson for governor.

    1. PJ, please explain to me how the quid pro quo that you’re alleging can take place before the endorsed candidate wins and takes the office that would make them able to do so.

      How does getting endorsed by a former senior staffer of a progressive President magically turn the endorsed into a “not progressive”?

      Is there anything aside from your fallacy of guilt by association to prove whatever you’re insinuating about Obey’s endorsement?

      1. MM,
        I Thank you for your questions, I will respond to them in nauseating detail, and I will gracefully accept an apology for your unnecessarily sharp tone.

        To begin: The endorsement process itself is an association fallacy. Guilt by association does have it’s counterpart. Esteem by association is also a rhetorical fallacy.

        Those who participate in the endorsement process are well aware that doing so invites critical analysis of both the endorser and the endorsee. And well it should. Strategic endorsement also involves non-endorsement. An excellent and meaningful endorsement will not be vague or bland, instead it should illuminate why the endorsee is endorsable within a specific context, and it is a measure of trajectory. A meaningful endorsement also comments with specificity on the candidates with whom endorsement has been withheld. Another purpose, and sometimes unintentional effect, of endorsement is to confer a quality or a suite of qualities from one person to another. Or to “pass the mantle” as it were – in order for an endorsee to embody the quality previously embodied by someone else.

        I don’t understand your quid quo pro question. Is it, was I suggesting that there was some tangible impropriety or corrupt exchange between Falk and unions? If that’s it, no. My comments were squarely within the realm of rhetorical construction, in terms of how Falk is rhetorically building her character with respect to her own record. I concede I didn’t communicate that too well in my hastily scribbled post. I shall strive to be more precise.

        With that said, the intent is this: rhetorical interrogation and inquisitive enquiry in order to foster cogitation throughout what I consider a weighty and layered recall situation. What shapes my comments are the political context at hand (i.e. Scott Walker’s campaign and agenda) and the current/historical context which it underscores (i.e. the trajectory of the Democratic Agenda).

        On Falk: My gist is this: There is something disingenuous about claiming to be a friend of labor and working people by citing your success at extracting $10 million dollars worth of concessions from them. To assert credibility by claiming said extractions are equivalent to “taxpayer savings” diminishes the value and perceived worth of public service. And the unions endorse this? Quite frankly, I think it’s absurd. Furthermore, the “taxpayer savings” rhetoric lends credence to conservative distortion mongers and public sector union demonizers like Andrew Klavan. It is the language of austerity and fiscal conservatism, and it undermines if not renders obsolete any serious discussion about strengthening the public sector by acknowledging it as a vital cog in the economic engine – which in turns renders the public sector without value societally or culturally.

        Union endorsement should go to those candidates who are committed to revitalizing the public sector, to strengthening union leverage, and to the development of innovative union powered cooperatives like Mondragon.

        Narrowing the focus to “working people” and “the middle class” is problematic for a number of reasons. First it excludes from discourse non-working people (there are a variety of reasons people find themselves in this category, and may be unrelated to the Great Recession). It excludes poverty and homelessness. Insisting on appealing to the “middle class” assumes there is an identifiable “middle class” surviving somewhere in the wake of thirty years of middle class decline and growing income/wealth inequality. It excludes from discourse how that declined occurred. It therefore excludes from discussion what Falk or any of the candidates in the recall election will do to address it in Wisconsin.

        On Tom Barrett. Let’s be clear: My point was that John Nichols characterized him as a “progressive legislator.” I’m splitting hairs here and with good reason. My point is that Tom Barrett is not a progressive public steward. His rhetoric and his approach to governance mirrors that of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors which in turn takes its philosophical underpinnings from the Democratic Leadership Council, whose angle is Center-Right/Blue Dog. And that philosophy is rooted in President Bill Clinton’s “Democratic Revolution” that redefines progressive to mean something vastly different than what progressives would ever consider it to mean. It may be more hands on than conservatism but it is decidedly conservative in developing policy that is pro-growth, pro-privatization, private sector oriented and deregulatory in nature. It favors public-private initiatives, which as evidenced in the U.S. and abroad for decades, are little more than uni-directional fast-track siphons leading from public coffers to private coffers and with no transparency or oversight capacity for public scrutiny. It favors monopolization while touting competition and it had a large, not so invisible hand in the development of what we now know is the disaster of “the knowledge economy”/“globalized economy.” As such it tends to disfavor public sector concerns, unionization, small/local business and business which does not structure itself on the big corporate model.

        On Dave Obey: His transition to lobbyist signals to me that he condones the institutionalized lobby as a legitimate practice integral to the workings of a Democratic Republic. The progressive position would be the opposite. I insinuated nothing about about Dave Obey’s tenure as a lobbyist – I made the observation that GGA clients include Goldman Sachs and Monsato/Round-Up – companies that I would describe as robber barons on acid. I make no conclusions other than if Mr. Obey had any misgivings concerning how ethical or moral or wise it might be for GGA to represent their interests (which I would deem antithetical to the interests of every American citizen regardless of political affiliation) perhaps he would never have accepted the position. Whether he himself represents those interests is immaterial. He has chosen to associate himself with, and to be paid a salary by, an organization that does represent those interests. In this he is guilty of association, and it is not a fallacy. This is not the action of a progressive.

        My point is endorsements from a legislator turned lobbyist for a company whose clients include “robber barons on acid,” a senior advisor to a president who attempted to subvert the idea of “progressive” to its antithesis, who himself is odium personified and one who can barely utter the word “progressive” without spitting it out, and a senator who may lack the officiousness of the latter, but certainly embraces the governing principles of the former, just might – and I’m only speculating here – indicate that “progressive” was not the resounding principle intended to be conveyed.

        Perhaps it would be constructive to keep in mind that Scott Walker and a steamrolling right wing machine consider this recall to be a referendum on the permanent direction of our state. To stress that it is a referendum not only on Scott Walker’s “big picture” but also the “big picture” of his challenger cannot be underestimated.

        Thus far the “big picture” (the economic arena) of the Democratic establishment challengers differs in substance from Scott Walker by minutiae. I see a Clinton-esque philosophical frame. What I don’t see is any vestige of the Clinton Election Machine that once inspired quaking fear in the heart of every conservative bosom.

        The contest seems to be:
        Should we be a conservative Republican state or a conservative Democratic state?

        If we become a conservative Democratic state, unions and their political clout will erode further then eventually dissipate into obscurity. If we become a conservative Republican state unions will simply be rendered obsolete immediately. Since they’ve obfuscated any big picture discourse during the recall process thus far, perhaps they already are obsolete. I like to think not.

        I believe I’ve answered your questions, and I kindly welcome your retort.

  4. WI Gov Walker’s Union Boss SUPPORTER Gooch McGowan, Local 139, IUOE – u p d a t e

    YUP, union boss Gooch McGowan STILL SUPPORTS WI union busting Gov WALKER. And yup, the state and national AFL-CIO is still spending the same local 139 union member taxes to attack Walker, that boss McGowan uses to SUPPORT Walker.

    UNION MEMBERS DON’T NEED TO KNOW – about the union “business” they’re paying for:
    Problem: Union boss McGowan got burned on his unjustified comp in the 2010 local 139 union election, from the tiniest bit of wage and partial comp info he reported on federal documents.
    Solution: STOP REPORTING IT.

    Compare attached local 139’s IRS form 990s, PART VII for years 2008 and 2009, to that of 2010. Notice how 2008-09 use to show boss McGowan’s REPORTED wages and partial compensation. 2010 NOT. Too much info for the members paying his unjustified, outrageous and now UNREPORTED compensation.
    Proud to TAKE from the members. Ashamed to TELL the members.

    MORE local 139 financial info:
    LM-2 for 2011 (Schedule 11): McGowan and union paid staff REPORTED wages and expenses. Just the wages and expenses!
    Boss McGowan was handed an IUOE VP job beginning 2012 because ????? with a salary and partial comp estimated at……$100,000* yr.

  5. I look at the people endorsing Barrett and see a long line of corporate third way weanies who took no part in the Recall and took no stand against Walker. I am not surprised they are endorsing Barrett for this election, he is a long sanding member of their club.

    1. I have no idea what “corporate third way weanies” means. Will you enlighten me please? This isn’t a trick question; I’ve never heard a phrase like that.

      1. DNC Bill Clinton style Democrats who believe in financial deregulation, free trade agreements and very little support for labor. Basically socially liberal Republicans. The kind of politicians who, in my opinion, lost the white working class for the Democrats for a generation because they have no solid core to their beliefs and so look like they have no integrity.

        1. I wish that you would write coherently.

          You appear to be accusing Bill Clinton with sweeping generalizations. I doubt that you know the man well enough to say with any authority what he believes in. Clinton’s record speaks for itself, as does the records of the Newt Gingrich Congress. Scapegoating a President for what Congress did is a tired old trick that fools nobody.

          Precisely how does this apply to the topic at hand?

    2. I guess I never considered former Congressman Dave Obey a “corporate third way weanie;” he always struck me as one of the more liberal members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation, if not Congress for that matter.

  6. I look at WEAC and do not forgive it for not endorsing anyone for governor in 2010, when WEAC’s inability to see the big picture helped to bring us Walker.

    WEAC helped to screw up that election, lowering Democratic turnout, which gave the win to Walker, and now WEAC and other unions are screwing up this one as well.

    I don’t want to be a member of that club that is snatching defeat from the jaws of our victory.

    1. Gee, if you believe that individual voters must be reliant on the endorsements of large organizations like WEAC to make their minds up for them, you’re ignoring the entire point of democracy.

  7. Falk should step aside ASAP! She’s riding on the union heads’ coattails and that is no way to get elected…and, in fact, if she continues we will not win this election. We don’t want a yes person for the union heads!!!

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