Monday, August 5, 2013

Tate's Gambit Is Paying Off

Two months ago, at the state Democratic Party convention, Mike Tate put people from both parties back on their heels when he said that they were playing the upcoming gubernatorial race by holding their cards close to their chest:
Speaking to delegates, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate said it does no good to give Governor Walker a “target to shoot at one day sooner than we have to.” Tate said Walker has a political history of not promoting his ideas on the campaign trail, but by “making himself the least worst option on the ballot.”
There were Democrats who were vocally disappointed in this news.  They understandably wanted someone to rally around, to give them something to fight for instead of always fighting against the damage Scott Walker has been doing to this state.

But if the Democrats were disappointed, Walker and WISGOP were frantic.

As Tate pointed out, without an opponent to attack, Walker cannot stand on his own record. This is a point I made some four years ago* when former Governor Jim Doyle announced he was not going to seek reelection:
Ever since Scott Walker started gearing up for his perpetual gubernatorial campaign in 2002, he has been painting himself as the anti-Doyle. This wasn't very practical early in his campaign, but could have been effective given Doyle's dismal approval numbers during the past several months.

Unfortunately for Walker, Doyle threw a big monkey wrench into Walker's campaign strategy by choosing not to run for re-election. This news sent Team Walker into a tailspin, panicked that he would now have to run for the seat based on his track record as Milwaukee County Executive, which has been anything but spectacular. If anything, Walker's record actually makes Doyle's record look good.

His campaign started flailing around, first trying to continue against Doyle. When that failed to gain traction, he tried to smack around primary opponent Mark Neumann. He also started a series of attacks against City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who hasn't even decided if he was going to run or not (although more and more people are thinking he won't).

All this has shown is that Walker is terrified of both of these men, either of whom could clean his clock if he was forced to run only on his record.
Without an opponent to demonize, Walker has no way of deflecting attention from his dismal track records which include, but is in now way limited to:

Like I said, that's just a few of the self-imposed political and PR nightmares he has to contend with right now.

And all of this exposure is taking its toll on Walker's image, which is all he really has going for him.

Walker's popularity is below 50%.  Unsurprisingly, Walker is even more unpopular among women.  Also unsurprisingly, Walker has been tanking in straw polls around the country.  Even fellow Koch employees are calling Walker only a runner up.

With Walker sinking in the polls and no opponent to act as a foil, Walker and WISGOP are scrambling to do damage control, which for them means trying to focus the public's attention elsewhere.

Thus you have the corporate media going bonkers on trying to find out who might be running so they can help Walker's campaign by going into attack mode.

You also get articles like this one from Christian Schneider, where he already wins next year's Burlington's Liar Club contest with this doozy:
Now, Walker can raise a million dollars in the amount of time it takes him to listen to a Styx album. His talking points are now forged of titanium, impenetrable by any prospective electoral opponent.
Schneider then spends the rest of the article attacking Mary Burke even though she hasn't announced whether or not she is even running for the governor's seat.

They are so desperate that they would rather go against a straw opponent than no opponent at all.  That only goes to show how little faith they have in Walker's ability to win next year's contest on his own.

Continuing this line of panic, WISGOP also issued a press release revealing their belief that if everyone ain't goosestepping together, well, they take that as a sign of discord and division.  It's actually a sign of democracy, which is something that the Teapublicans don't recognize when they see it, much less understand it.

As one might expect, Walker won't let the truth get in his way of fundraising, going as so far as trying to declare Burke's candidacy even before

By my reckoning, Walker will have at least another month before anyone announces.  That's a long time to sit in the bright hot spotlight.  If I had my druthers, I'd almost like to have the candidates wait until after New Year's Day, when people get to see how much their taxes are going to go up and how much their services are going to be cut.

And for the record, I am still not enthused with the thought of Mary Burke being the candidate.  We already have seen with Chris Abele what can happen when a uber-wealthy corporate-minded person takes office.  I'd rather see a more populist type of candidate such as Senator Chris Larson or Representative Chris Taylor.

*Just imagine - if someone had pointed out that to Tate four years ago, we might not even be having this conversation now because Walker would never had won in the first place.


  1. Capper, I think Mary Burke is the decoy for whoever the real Democratic nominee is.

    1. I wish you were right, but they are seriously trying to push her.

    2. Why about the CE from Winnebago ? I heard him talk on Sly - very very impressed.

  2. Since Americans now select the people they surrender their political power to through a system of auctions, rather than elections, the probability of a candidate being elected who is not independently wealthy or backed by billionaires is near zero. This is the political system that our ruling class has determined is in it's best interest.

  3. Why aren't more Democrats interested in Mark Harris. It would be very, very difficult for the GOP to describe him as a Madison or activist liberal in any way, shape or form. Not only is he well qualified to accept the post of governor, he's a straight shooter. A smart, honest, hard working man. Ask anyone in Winnebago county. He would be my pick for the Democratic candidate.

    Stay away from anyone affiliated with Madison or Milwaukee county. Too much fodder for the GOP sad talking points.

    1. No one is saying that they are not interested in Harris.

    2. List to Harris on Sly's podcast - he is excellent form many perspectives,

    3. Mark Harris? No. We know him quite well and he has no money, no charisma and is annoyingly annoying. He can't win, nor can Vinehout, Larson or Taylor.
      Please give me a candidate with statewide appeal that can lead this state. Please.

  4. i hate to disagree but I disagree....Having a candidate(or two, or three) who could be hammering these points out. Just because JSonline covers them a few days later, on page 5 doesnt mean people are paying attention to Walker's incompetence.

    However, its Tate's strategy and, fair or not, his legacy will be married to the 2014 elections. We have an immensely beatable candidate, lets see if we can actually beat him.

    I also disagree about Schneider. First i am sorry that you can not get the five minutes back it took to read his crap, and second all that his writings prove is that he has homoerotic fantasies about republican men in power and he despises women.

    Finally CJ- I vehemently disagree. While I agree that Harris seems interesting(I want to learn more about him), I would absolutely NOT worry if someone comes from Madison/Milwaukee.

    If it is Harris, the GOP will still paint him as a Madison Liberal and Schneider will write a column about how he is because he visited madison once, and every loon on facebook will be sharing it like crazy as proof.

    The only way we win is to play offense and stop worrying about what the GOP will/might do!!

  5. Capper, excellent analysis, thanks.

  6. WIDems haven't officially announced a candidate because they know they'll be out-spent. And they're trying to shorten the race. Burke has money but she also reeks of Madison which doesn't sell outside of Protest-Gotham.

    Better known politicians like Larson already have divisive track records which can/would be used to isolate them.

    What's ultimately going to disappoint the lot of you (and lead to hundreds more blogs) is the fact that the majority of Wisconsinites don't share your pro-union sympathies.

    There will be a Dem primary, you "gents" will support the most extreme candidate, and the emerging Walker-opponent will have established roots a mile left of the populace.

    YOU are why Barrett lost the race an hour after the polls closed. YOU are why no one pays attention to valid Walker criticism. And YOU are how he's going to prevail again.

    Walker thanks you for the help!

  7. "If it is Harris, the GOP will still paint him as a Madison Liberal and Schneider will write a column about how he is because he visited madison once, and every loon on facebook will be sharing it like crazy as proof. "

    @Jeff Simpson- Good point.

  8. "YOU are why Barrett lost the race an hour after the polls closed. YOU are why no one pays attention to valid Walker criticism. And YOU are how he's going to prevail again."

    The numbers don't lie.

    "GRAPH: As Union Membership Has Declined, Income Inequality Has Skyrocketed In The United States"

    "How does America's middle class rank globally?"


    USA! USA! USA!

  9. Anonymous at 10:25 has a valid point. The key is to back whoever shakes out as Walker's opponent 100%. Period. Forget the intramural squabbles. Forget Madison vs. Milwaukee or upstate vs. downstate. Remember Walker's motto: "Divide and conquer." There can be no one candidate that everyone likes 100%, but once we have a candidate, he or she deserves no less than 100% support.
    Don't waste time shooting ourselves in the foot, Capper listed a dozen bullet pointed topics that Wis Democrats need to be shouting from every rooftop from now until election day.

  10. Unless, DA or Department of Justice wants to indict Walker, Dems have three-ways to beat him.

    1. Lower taxes on 99%
    2. Lower taxes on 99%
    3. Lower taxes on 99%

    If we want to lose another election, let the GOP have the low hanging fruit.

    Everyone should follow @deficitowl. She's a UMKC Economics professor who explains in language folks can understand the games the oligarchs are playing with deficits.

    1. Ending the prohibition against alcohol in '32 was one of the things that allowed FDR to gain the White House.

      Either directly (ballot initiative) or indirectly (endorsed in party platform), Dems should support legalization of marijuana. I would never encourage anyone to use it, but the prohibition of alcohol did not work either.

      Legalizing pot is huge for GOTV.

      Yes, I know law enforcement unions are against it.


      You either want to win elections or you don't.

    2. Wish I would have seen all this enthusiasm for Fallone.

      Makes me wonder if the anti-union wing of the Democratic party kinda tanked it for an election which had profound implications for collective bargaining.

      I take with a grain of salt any post from "Anonymous." Some, just the content alone makes them worthwhile. "Pep-talks," about "party unity," however are not in that category. If you want to help the oligarchs, keep electing people who say one thing (Walker/Obama) and then do whatever the oligarchs want.

  11. Prof Kelton wrote this about what a FEDERAL job guarantee would look like.

    "....Should the federal government bailout Detroit? That’s the question everyone is debating. We think the discussion should be expanded well beyond this narrow question. Detroit is the canary in the coal mine, but it’s symptomatic of a bigger problem, which is the lack of jobs and decent demand in the economy.

    The problem is that the president believes we can cure our jobless problem by providing the proper incentives to the business community. So they’ll be all of this talk about “incentive zones”, we’re sure for Detroit. And here he is committing one of the few big policy blunders from Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Like Johnson, who focused on retraining the unemployed for jobs that did not exist, Obama has focused on incentivizing the businesses community to hire workers to produce for customers that do not exist. Time and again, Obama has shown that he will only tinker around the edges, relying on the same tired supply-side initiatives that will not work: more incentives to build business confidence, subsidies to reduce labor costs and to promote exports, and maybe even tax cuts to please Republicans. He told a Labor Day crowd in Detroit a few years ago that he wants to match the more than 1 million construction workers with an infrastructure-related rebuilding program to improve the nation’s roads and bridges. That is an improvement over his efforts to date, but it falls far short of the 20-plus million jobs we need.

    So what should be done? Well, the three of us (and others) have long proposed a longer term solution to deal with all of the Detroits that are out there: The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements.

    continued below

    1. The program would operate like a buffer stock, absorbing and releasing workers during the economy’s natural boom-and-bust cycles. In a boom, employers would recruit workers out of the program; in a slump the safety net would allow those who had lost their jobs to continue to work to preserve good habits, making them easier to re-employ when activity picked up. The program would also take those whose education, training or job experience was initially inadequate to obtain work outside the program, enhancing their employability through on-the-job training. Work records would be maintained for all program participants and would be available for potential employers. Unemployment offices could be converted to employment offices, to match workers with jobs in the program, and to help private and public employers recruit workers.

      Funding for the job guarantee program must come from the federal government—and the wage should be periodically adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of living and to allow workers to share in rising national productivity so that real living standards would rise—but the administration and operation of the program should be decentralized to the state and local level. Registered not-for-profit organizations could propose projects for approval by responsible offices designated within each of the states and U.S. territories as well as the District of Columbia. Then the proposals should be submitted to the federal office for final approval and funding. To ensure transparency and accountability, the Labor Department should maintain a website providing details on all projects submitted, all projects approved and all projects started.

      To avoid simple “make-work” employment, project proposals could be evaluated on the following criteria: (a) value to the community; (b) value to the participants; (c) likelihood of successful implementation of project; (d) contribution to preparing workers for employment outside the program.

      The program would take workers as they were and where they were, with jobs designed so that they could be performed by workers with the education and training they already had, but it would strive to improve the education and skills of all workers as they participated in the program. Proposals would come from every community in America, to employ workers in every community. Project proposals should include provisions for part-time work and other flexible arrangements for workers who need them, including but not restricted to flexible arrangements for parents of young children.

      That’s the approach we would take on behalf of all of the Detroits out there."

  12. Tommy Thompson might jump back into the race to save the Republican party.

    The boy from Elroy isn't done yet, and he's a hero of the people. We need him now!

  13. "Hello? Yes, I'd like to report a blog-jacking..."

  14. I get not giving Walker a Dem opponent to attack. But maybe in the meantime there are some Dem groups that could start running ads to define Walker.

    1. Great point, Mike!

    2. And having the Dems define themselves as well. Preferably as the party that believes in clean elections, independent redistricting, and the restoration of decency in the state. There's nowhere near enough of that message (or any message other than "Walker sucks.")

      " Walker sucks" might be enough in 2014, but I wouldn't rely on it.

  15. It's only paying off if the people who didn't like his "gambit", and weren't inclined to defend him no matter what he does (as you are), are feeling better about him and the situation as a whole.
    It's only paying off if there's an increase of left-WI unity and grassroots energy, and a belief in a positive outcome. And frankly, as we all know, (but party bloggers have to pretend to not notice) dissent over Tate is about a LOT more than a single "gambit".
    And since when is not having a viable candidate YET AGAIN a gambit anyways? This is a voluntary choice? A plan? LOL
    The bottom line is, the "Tate Gambit" doesn't "pay off" because today you and a few other guys feel like they have a momentary leg-up in the Cheddarsphere Blog War. Tate's leadership style and his years of decision-making pays off IF and ONLY IF the Republican Juggernaut meets real resistance, meaning Dem candidates start winning. IF and ONLY IF Walker can be defeated, rather than inadvertently supported by a Dem party in disarray, fighting each other in frustration while the enemy wins another round.

    There was a situation some years ago, involving George W Bush and an aircraft carrier, an unfortunate jumpsuit, and a premature declaration of "Mission Accomplished".
    So....Gambit Accomplished, then?

    1. LOL, LOL!

      If you think for one minute that I'm a "party blogger," you must be new here. I have had the Dems on my ass as much as the Repugs.

      You also miss some key things, such as I said it is paying off, meaning at this moment it is working. I never claimed that it will win the election, much less that we have already won the election.

      I have also personally told Tate repeatedly that he needs to engage the people more. But since when is a primary the definition of disarray?

  16. eye roll... the notion that candidate would listen to Tate and his supposed strategy is laughable and just silly. There is no candidate yet. That's it. Tate putting the best face on it isn't a strategy.


    Listen to Mark Harris.

    Very smart, articulate, works well with all people, educated, businessman, 3 terms as CE and much much more.

  18. Anonymous 9:54pm is right. And the fact that Tate would link to this smelly shoe proves that he has no idea what he's doing.

    He's a window seat passenger at best.

  19. Good post and yet as I read it a feeling of creeping dread came over me. What if the secret, real candidate is Abele? He has money, some name awareness and apparently party defenders. Nah, couldn't be, could it?

  20. bombadil says Vinehout can't win. Why not? Aside from money, that is. She is smart, knows dairy and health care, hunts, is Catholic and pro-choice, and is not from Madison or Milwaukee. Have you ever heard her speak? She is a populist. She'll be at Fighting Bob Fest on Sept. 7 in Madison, if you haven't heard her. You'll be surprised.

    1. She is also two faced and inconsistent in her positions. She will never have my support.

    2. capper, just saying she is "two faced" doesn't say how. Can you be more specific? Otherwise, you're just casting aspersions.

      I've spent a couple of hours speaking to her. She is a reasonably liberal Democrat elected from a conservative district, which requires nuanced positions. Wisconsin is a purple state, not blue, not red, and if the Democrats can find someone who recognizes that purple-ness, why is that bad?

    3. If Capper's trying that tired argument amount the " physician veto" bill from several years ago, I think he should watch Vinehout's terrific testimony against the forced ultrasound bill this year. There's no doubt where Vinehout's stands on this issue, and it's with the pro-choice side.

      She's my choice as of now, but I definitely want an open, spirited primary instead of candidates chosen in back rooms by Tate and company. Unlike GOPs, we don't need to tear down our own party's folks just to win a primary.

    4. She's a great state senator, but unfortunately, she won't lead us to victory. Didn't the recall teach us anything?

  21. Mr. Atomic Pantsload did not discuss Walker's burn rate - he spends too much money to raise a given amount of money.

    I think his bio is misleading, too. "Christian Schneider is a freelance writer from Madison, who also writes The Yankee Review blog as part of Purple Wisconsin at" Who has verified this claim? Is Schneider on the payroll anywhere? Is he paid strictly by the piece, and who pays him? How many places are buying his pieces? Is he making money by other means such as political consulting?