Posts Tagged ‘Tom Barrett’

Why do we like the Spaniards so much?

February 15, 2010

First we give the Spanish a highly-coveted high speed rail contract, and now Tom Barrett is announcing a Spanish company’s successful bid for a wind turbine project in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett today announced Spanish manufacturer Ingeteam will build a wind-turbine parts plant in Milwaukee, as he touted the city’s successes on the jobs front in his annual State of the City speech.

Barrett, who is running for governor, invited WE Energies CEO Gale Klappa to make the announcement about Ingeteam. Klappa said the Spain-based firm chose Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley for its first-ever American manufacturing plant and said it would bring hundreds of jobs to the valley.

Klappa described the company as heavily involved in renewable energy and the making of generators, converters and other essential components for wind turbines. Ingeteam’s Web site lists among its products converters, generators and control electronics for wind-generators, electric pitch, telecontrol of wind parks, integral maintenance of parks.

Is there a local version of Lou Dobbs who will make the prediction that the company will only hire illegal immigrants with whom their executives can communicate.

Barrett taking a cue from Massachusetts?

January 21, 2010

In wake of the Democrats’ recent loss in Massachusetts, the most popular criticism of the party and its president is that they have focused too much on long-term issues such as health care and climate change and have neglected the issue practically every American is worried about: the economy.

What could Obama have done differently on the economy? That’s a discussion that economists will continue to have well after he leaves office (whenever that takes place). Different interpretations of economic history yield wildly different heros and culprits. Just look at the diverging views on FDR. To liberals, he is a savior. To supply-siders, he was a hindrance.

Any ideas? What would you have liked to see Obama do? I would have liked to see much more money towards long-term goals, including revolutionary transportation and visionary research. A lot of the stimulus money went into sure bets: potholes and bridges.

Either way, Tom Barrett is trying to distance himself from the loftier ideas of the Obama administration.

Tom Barrett toured Orion Energy Systems on Wednesday morning and said the focus of his bid to become governor is “jobs, jobs and jobs.”

Barrett said citizens want their elected officials to focus on strengthening the economy and that trumps health-care reform.

The irony is that as a national health care policy becomes more tenuous, Democrats at the state level also become less enthusiastic about creating state policies. Doyle, who yesterday introduced Badger Care Plus Basic, which will offer adults with no dependent children a basic health care policy for $130 a month, is likely an exception to the rule because he is not running for re-election. Politics is perverse.

Are Democrats’ hopes for Barrett too high?

November 17, 2009

I apologize for engaging in a little bit of MSNBCism but I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on the potential of Tom Barrett’s gubernatorial candidacy.

In many ways, I see the hope and excitement surrounding Barrett as similar to Obama’s rise leading up to the 2008 election. Going into the campaign season, Barbara Lawton, like Hillary Clinton, was the Democrat to beat. Many Democrats had doubts about her candidacy (they might have won out). They assumed she would be too easy to vilify and associate with the Doyle administration, and that her pet interests, including women’s rights and environmentalism, would not translate into a winning coalition in a general election. She was too “establishment.”

Just like Obama was the anti-Hillary, Barrett is the anti-Lawton. Obama was much cooler than Hillary. His coolness came from his charisma, his speaking ability, and his novelty. Barrett’s coolness comes from the ass kicking he took at the state fair this summer. I’ve emphasized this ad nauseum and I’ll say it again: one act of simple heroism can do a lot for a politician, especially considering how cowardly and calculating the political profession is assumed to be.

But a lot can change in a year. Democrats let go a big sigh of relief this week when Barrett declared. They finally have a viable candidate. But Barrett’s ass kicking isn’t enough. He has to be exciting and distinguish himself from Doyle – aggressively. He needs to make clear that he’s a Milwaukee reformer, and not a member of the Milwaukee establishment.

Especially against Walker, who considers himself the Republican who cleans up the big-city Democratic mess, Barrett will have to make clear to voters that he is not beholden to the interests that typify big-city candidates: the teacher’s union, public sector workers and perhaps most importantly, minority interest groups. The Republicans are not above using racially charged rhetoric against Democrats.

Barrett needs to emphasize the successes he’s had in Milwaukee. He cannot go through the motions of a typical Wisconsin politician. He needs to relate his experience in Milwaukee to what he plans to do for the state. He needs to take risks and criticize some of the things Democrats have done in the past. Perhaps most importantly, he needs to go negative against Walker. He should cast Walker as an extremist who is not bringing “change” but destruction. He should blend attacks on Walker with the themes of compassion and community – issues on which, because of his record of defending grammas from drunks, he  has a certain amount of credibility.

Political scientists on Barrett’s chances

October 26, 2009

There are good reasons I chose not to study political science. However, it was nice to see Wispolitics columnist Steve Walters ask several poli sci professors to give their opinions on Tom Barrett’s chance of getting elected governor. The main issue at hand is Barrett’s Milwaukee origins. Here’s a fact that lends credence to Democrats’ fears:

*Last time a Milwaukee resident was elected governor: Republican Julius P. Heil, in 1938 — or 71 years ago, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau. (Footnote: Milwaukee resident Marty Schreiber served as governor, but he wasn’t elected to the office. Schreiber was elected lieutenant governor, and became governor when Democrat Pat Lucey resigned to become ambassador to Mexico in July 1977.)

Here are what a couple of the political scientists said about the myth of Milwaukee:

— Former state Sen. Mordecai Lee, D-Milwaukee, now a UW-Milwaukee professor:

In the ‘old’ days, the out-state hostility to Milwaukee was largely Jeffersonian in origins: rural life is better than urban, provincialism is better than cosmopolitanism, etc. Now, I’m afraid it’s mutated to be also about race and poverty, tax-eaters-versus-taxpayers.

Without calling anybody a racist. I think it’s easier for a Republican from the Milwaukee suburbs to get independent and swing voters out-state than for a Democrat from the city of Milwaukee. So, Tom would have a more uphill struggle than (Milwaukee County Executive Scott) Walker (or Mark Neumann — also now living in a western Milwaukee suburb).

— UW-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer Walsh:

Barrett could be elected governor of Wisconsin if he can walk into the morning coffee klatches at gas stations in Mellen, LaCrosse, Muscoda, and Green Bay and make people feel like he is sincerely listening to and understanding their concerns.
The Milwaukee/Madison-versus-outstate divide is perpetuated by folks in outstate areas feeling like no one in the big downstate cities gives a hoot about them. That’s the big barrier, and it is going to take some serious seeking out of people on their own turf in order to overcome it.

I find the first explanation much more convincing. Sure, there is no absence of rural resentment for urban areas, however, not even the most aloof northern Wisconsinite entertains the theory that people in Milwaukee have it good. There will be plenty of negative associations made with Milwaukee politicians, but they will more likely center on corruption, inefficiency and embarrassment to the state. Lee is likely correct in saying that it’s easier from a guy from the Milwaukee suburbs – the epicenter of the Wisconsin bourgeoisie if you will – to wash his hands of the city slicker association than a Democrat, even though if anything, the Milwaukee suburbs should be the target of rural resentment, not that deteriorating mess known as the city.

Lawton paying attention to Milwaukee theory?

October 8, 2009

I’m starting to think Tom Barrett is not serious about a bid to be gov. The evidence is pointing to an understanding among Milwaukee politicos to jump on the Lawton train as soon as possible:

While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett continues to weigh whether to jump into the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton (left) is quickly picking up support in his backyard.

Lawton this week announced that Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Peggy West had endorsed her campaign, joining the likes of state Rep. Barbara Toles, D-Milwaukee, state Sen. Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa, and state Rep. John Steinbrink, D-Kenosha. Also backing Lawton is Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chairwoman Martha Love.

These are not the moves indicative of a competitive race. You’d think the party chair would try to stay out (at least publicly) until the very last minute. Granted, former state chair Joe Wineke endorsed Edwards pretty early on during the presidential primaries. Jim Sullivan, a moderate Democrat in a competitive district, does not seem like the type to go all in on Barb so early.

Do the Democrats need Milwaukee for gov?

October 6, 2009

In addition to polling data that shows Tom Barrett would be in a more favorable position to run for governor than Barbara Lawton, Bruce Murphy gives another compelling reason why Barrett is the logical nominee for the Dems: he’s from Milwaukee.

Murphy begins with the conventional wisdom that Democratic statewide candidates must win 60 percent of Milwaukee County to win an election. Therefore Walker, the County Executive, would have an advantage over Lawton, who is an outsider.

This analysis is too simplistic. The conventional wisdom is there for generic candidates, and does not make up for other regional ties a Democratic candidate may have that will make up for the shortfall in Milwaukee. Lawton may have an advantage in the Green Bay area from the three and a half decades she spent there as a community activist. If her ties to the area remain strong she may be able to pick up votes that would otherwise go to a Republican. In addition, Lawton would have the support of other Green Bay types, such as Rep. Steve Kagen, whereas Walker is despised by much of the Milwaukee political establishment, and depending on how the county budget pans out, Walker could actually face a backlash locally. Moreover, Milwaukee is much bigger than Green Bay, but Walker is not going to be able to play the “favorite son” card in most of the city, much of which sees Walker as a suburbanite – an outsider.

Granted, Murphy’s claim that Barrett would make a better candidate than Lawton is hard to refute at this point. Barrett would be a much more convincing “favorite son” than Walker. First off, he is mayor, which has a political and symbolic purpose that every voter understands. Second, the press he got after trying to save the grandmother from a drunken lunatic has earned him an enormous amount of sympathy and admiration from even the most cynical voters.

However, the Democrats do not need Milwaukee to win. Obama could have lost the county and still carried Wisconsin comfortably. And presidential elections are  the closest example of elections where the “generic” candidate analysis applies.

Walker, Barrett lead polls, elderly still read newspapers

October 4, 2009
UW political science professor Ken Goldstein conducted a survey of Wisconsin residents to gauge attitudes about the economy, state and national government and next year’s gubernatorial election.
Interestingly, Tom Barrett, if he declares, will start the primary race with a heavy advantage over Barbara Lawton. If the primary were held today, Barrett would get 38 percent of the vote versus Lawton’s 16. He obviously benefits from being recognized practically universally in the most important Democratic district in the state (Milwaukee), but I certainly would not underestimate the days of free press he got from the scuffle at the state fair.
Practically the same deal on the other side. If the Republican primary were held today, Scott Walker would get 38 percent and Mark Neumann would get 14.
Also of particular interest:
Among those aged 18-35, 8 percent get their news from newspapers and 40 percent from the Internet. Among those 65 and over, 60 percent rely on the papers and 2 percent on the Internet.

Barrett vs. Kind (what do they have in common)

September 7, 2009

Kind has virtually no money to run a state campaign on. Only a pittance of the money he’s raised for his congressional campaigns can be used to wage a campaign in the Badger State. Last I heard it’s somewhere south of $40,000. Nevertheless, after more than a decade in Congress, Kind no doubt has a strong network of state contributors, especially in his western district.

Starting from scratch, it’s unfortunate for Kind that he doesn’t know as many people in Madison – there are plenty of lawyers and lobbyists, the types who fund Doyle’s campaigns, who are willing to write $10,000 checks. It’s not that Kind or Barrett won’t be able to win their contributions come the general election, but Lawton will likely have an advantage among them in the primary. At this point, she is the only likely nominee of the Democratic Party. Giving to her is less of a crap shoot.

Barrett similarly has an array of big money interests in the Milwaukee area who’d like to get on the mayor’s good side by making a contribution. You can even give him a contribution and hope he loses – especially if you’re interest is more local.

I do believe that Barrett’s story of heroism at the state fair will play an important role if he does run for governor. It is great publicity and it will affect the gut response to Barrett, especially from people who aren’t familiar with him. The non-partisan electorate often votes based on subtle gut reactions to personal characteristics of the politician – is he/she trustworthy, does he/she seem genuinely good or smart? By listening to his speeches, watching his interactions, a voter attempts to guess. Barrett’s act makes the guessing unnecessary for many – it is evidence that he has a trait that is very rarely attributed to politicians: courage.

I think in a race where both Kind and Barrett run, Kind will be overshadowed by Barrett’s publicity and overwhelmed by his fundraising.

Governor’s race…

August 24, 2009

Only 13 months until the gubernatorial election. Where are my polls? Where is my 24/7 analysis?

First, we need some primary polls. What kind of name recognition do the candidates have? The most high profile candidate on either side is Barbara Lawton, although frankly there are plenty of voters who don’t know the name of the lieutenant governor. What percentage of Milwaukee County knows the name of their executive, Scott Walker? Do people remember Mark Neumann? The only potential candidates I can see with a lock on a certain bloc of voters are Rep. Ron Kind (D), who likely has quite a bit of name recognition with the western Wisconsinites he’s represented for seven terms in Congress, as well as Mayor Tom Barrett, who not only has great name recognition in Milwaukee, but has gotten the BEST press out of any of the candidates when he saved a grandmother and her grandson from a deranged drunk last week.

A poll that came out yesterday shows the two Milwaukee-area candidates, Walker and Barrett, in a dead heat, 44-43. As Zach at Blogging Blue notes, despite the good press, Barrett is still not a declared candidate. Scotty has been for months.

Of course, we haven’t even discussed the possibility of a bid from Tommy Thompson. And no, Kathleen Falk is not going to run.


Brunch Links

August 20, 2009

Good morning Wisconsin! For the next couple days you’ll be getting your dose of Madison from New Jersey, where the Sconz was actually started nearly three months ago.Today we’ve got some Huveos Rancheros, with what I believe is a margarita in the background. It’s 11 AM somewhere.

CFACT, a group of right wing lunatics, sues UW after being denied funds. They have also won the representation of the Alliance Defense Fund.

Super mayor emerges from hospital (is “hospitalized superhero” an oxymoron?) and says he’s no hero.

Dan Kapanke, the state rep running to unseat Rep. Ron Kind, continues to face a barrage of ethics complaints from the Democratic Party. “It is becoming a distraction.”

Drinking with parents at age 14 may soon be history in Wisconsin.

Smoking ban exemption for a Hookah bar?