On Friday, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, by a vote of 5-0, officially certified the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four GOP state senators (one of whom has resigned). Primaries to determine possible replacements will be held on May 8, with the final election taking place on June 5. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign committee estimates the recall will cost approximately $9 million in taxpayer money.
Since January, it appeared the leading Democratic contender would be former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who received every major endorsement and the backing of large unions representing public workers and teachers.
But polling for Democrats haven't been great, and former mayor Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett jumped into the race. Barrett lost narrowly to Gov. Walker in 2010.
The proposal Barrett sent to Falk and the other candidates would impose financial penalties on candidates if they mentioned their opponents in ads -- or if outside groups attacked Democrats on their behalf.
"As Democrats, we must be united in the only mission that matters: recalling Scott Walker and moving our state forward," Barrett wrote in a letter to his opponents. "Nearly one million people signed recall petitions as members of a citizen grass-roots movement to restore Wisconsin values trampled on by this governor -- not to watch Democrats sling mud at one another."
However, there is no chance of Falk agreeing to the pledge, because as Barrett continues to gain momentum, her only resort is to point out Barrett's previous support for a law that limited bargaining rights.
Falk's union supporters have already chimed in on the blogosphere to remind voters that Barrett has championed the same reforms that fixed Wisconsin's $3.6 billion budget hole:
As you can tell, this primary could easily become an ugly battle.
And when Democrats finally pick a candidate, they will face the $12 million in unlimited campaign contributions Walker has been able to raise since mid-January. (Henceforth, now that the recall has been certified, he'll have to abide by limits.) By contrast, Barrett has roughly $450,000 in his mayoral re-election fund that he'd be able to transfer to the general campaign.