With Vinehout Out, What Happens To Mary Burke?

Editor’s Note: What follows is a repost of an entry originally posted by Eric Brant and then deleted. Deletion of posts should only be done under the most extreme of circumstances, and this wasn’t one of those circumstances, so I’ve restored the original post. -ZW

After months of speculation Kathleen Vinehout has announced that she will not run against Mary Burke in a primary for the Democratic nomination for governor of Wisconsin. Citing her recent car accident, Vinehout declared that the injuries she sustained have made it impossible for her to run a statewide grassroots campaign. Vinehout would have had an up-hill climb ahead of her as Mary Burke has raised nearly $2 million ($400,000 from her own wallet) and she has been traveling the state for months. Vinehout’s campaign would have been a grassroots effort that involved a lot of door knocking and handshaking which would prove challenging since her arm was fractured in eight places. Scott Walker is one of the highest funded gubernatorial candidates in the country, not to mention that he has the luxury of incumbency. In order to beat him, Democrats will need to fight fire with fire. Burke has already locked up several key endorsements such as Russ Feingold’s Progressives United and Emily’s List.

A run by Vinehout was something that the progressive left was hoping for as an alternative to Trek executive, Mary Burke. Many of them, most of whom you can find singing songs every day at lunch in the Capital Rotunda, feel that Burke is unqualified because she is a millionaire who has been riding the center line all the way to the nomination. Burke has been somewhat vague in her policy proposals, barely supporting a raise in the state’s minimum wage to $7.60/hour. (a proposal that failed in the legislature recently) She won’t endorse legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, and she has stated that she supports collective bargaining, but agrees with Scott Walker about employee contributions.

Burke may not be a progressive icon, but she is mounting a credible challenge to Scott Walker. Unfortunately, to many of us, she appears to be running an “anti-Walker” campaign rather than a “pro-worker” campaign. Over the next several months she will be vetted more closely, but perhaps not as concisely as a primary would have allowed. This will preserve her funding for the general election, but will she be ready for the onslaught of right-wing negativity?

Burke is playing it safe right now, but it will be interesting to see if she stays on this course. Does she start to make bold proposals in an effort to fire up the base? Does she court Vinehout or Peter Barca as a Lt. Governor? Or does she stay in the middle of the road and bank on the fact that progressive voters will not miss an opportunity to vote against Walker?

Progressives also have a choice to make: Do they continue condemning the candidate or do they get behind her and push her towards their point of view?

Mary Burke may not represent everything that Russ Feingold represents, but she is clearly more progressive than Scott Walker. With the gerrymandered Assembly districts, the next governor will only be as effective as the lower chamber is willing to allow them to be. There is zero chance that they are willing to roll back any of Walker’s agenda, but there is also zero chance that Mary Burke will advance it. The only way to stop the right-wing seepage into our state and derail Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions is to get behind Mary Burke and put her in the state’s highest office.

You can hear our full thoughts on this subject and much more on Civil Discourse Radio!


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7 thoughts on “With Vinehout Out, What Happens To Mary Burke?

    1. I think there’s a lot in Walker’s budgets to criticize, and I’d be shocked if we didn’t see some of the more objectionable parts of Walker’s budgets end up as lines of attack.

      I also think Walker’s promise about not using budgets to make policy – only to turn around and use his budgets to make policy – would be another effective line of attack.

  1. Thanks for re-posting the diary, Zach.

    Thank you Eric for the personal email you sent me stating that you had removed the diary “by mistake.”

    For those who missed the earlier comments, 5 of which are now gone, people were generally disagreeing with Eric’s diary on several points. I can only speculate, but my comment may have triggered Eric’s removal of his diary. I’m briefly summarizing my previous comment which was inspired by Eric’s insinuation that progressives were “condemning,” Burke near the end of his piece.

    I asked Eric if he ever intended to respond to comments to his posts. I hope he responds here with the answer he emailed to me, personally, why he chooses not to. It is informative.

    I questioned the real value of Burke’s endorsements, insinuating myself that the Progressives United’s “survey” was nothing more than a push pole and they won’t release the actual WI membership numbers engaged therein. I insinuated Emily’s list endorsement was, “bought,” i.e. you hire someone to your campaign who is a high level director in the organization, and that despite the great goals of EL, I evaluate my favored candidates regardless of gender. I asked Eric if he was aware of the excellent article from Purple Rayne on Bjork. And I speculated that Burke’s campaign is being run to favor neoliberal corporatist agenda’s coming from the national and state D leadership, explicitly stating that the chained CPI, drone killings, bank bailouts and several such plutocratic goals and the people who worked to get those candidates elected, deserved to be questioned.


    I used Burke’s webpage statement about striking a balance between the environment and allowing mining and asked if it was too much to ask for a candidate statement of, “no mining period,” when even the slightest possibility of contaminating our absolutely finite water resources and linked to Sunday’s excellent post on the Penokees mining resistance exists:


    Finishing, I reiterated, flipping the Senate majority was easily more important than Burke being elected to stop the Republican machine, Walker would likely be moving on to the national goal, after a year, and that Eric was blowing more smoke here, than the DFH’s.

    That’s it in a recycled bag full, most of what I hoped to convey in the original comment but less edgy.

    1. I disagree with you regarding the value of Burke’s endorsements. I think the endorsement from EMILY’s List carries a lot of weight, because EMILY’s List has helped elect a lot of Democratic women to office in our country, including Tammy Baldwin (House and Senate) and Gwen Moore here in Wisconsin.

      I think your insinuation that the EMILY’s List endorsement was “bought” by Burke’s campaign is completely off base and a little insulting, especially at a time when our state (not to mention our country) could definitely use more women in elected office.

      1. As I hinted at above, I support Emily’s List work and goals, they have undoubtedly helped some great female legislators get elected. Team Mary Burke, IMHO is still marketing an image without much actual progressive, or even desirable traditional Democratic values or substance. EL’s “endorsement,” is awarded here, to elect a female to a position of power, window dressing on an otherwise lack luster campaign platform.

        Bjork worked to elect the Democratic POTUS, worked to promote the awful ACA, so another potential corporate stooge, either female or male, in a position of power, likely getting policy recommendations from corporatist national influence, the current condition of DNC politics, shouldn’t be tolerated in WI.

        I agree with you however, it will likely have valuable influence for Burke’s campaign. Only not necessarily for any reasons that will help state labor, or the state’s disenfranchised or protecting our natural resources.

        I am open to having my view changed. I bought hope and change once, but that was enough.

    2. nq, I also want to take a moment to address your questioning Eric for not commenting on his entry. If he doesn’t want to comment, that’s his prerogative. He certainly wouldn’t be the first blogger to post content with the intent of spurring a discussion but without a desire to engage in that discussion.

      1. No problem with him making a choice to his liking. I had asked if he would ever consider responding to comments from people who read what he posted here and I prodded suggesting his posts here, without him actually engaging or responding to critiques from BB readers, amounted to click-baiting for his audio productions.

        I questioned a couple of his claims, yesterday. With the reason he gave for not responding to comments here, in the email he sent to me, I think it imperative for him to share that reason exactly, with all the readers here, thus my invitation for him to do so, above.

        Thanks for your comments to give me an opportunity to expand on this.

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