Former House Democrat Dave Obey says Tom Barrett is the strongest candidate to beat Governor Scott Walker in the recall election.
“Tom would be a terrific person to restore civility to Madison. Workers, especially public workers and teachers, have been brutalized by this governor,” Obey tells reporters in a conference call today.
Among the Democrats running, Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk appear to be the front runners. When asked his opinion of a Walker/Falk matchup, Obey says the all-of-the candidates are “fine people,” but “we cannot afford to take any chances.”
Falk, Barrett, state Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug La Follette will square off in the May 8 primary: the winner facing Walker June 5.
If Barrett emerges from the primary, it will be a rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial race that put Walker into the governor’s mansion.
However Phil Walzak, Barrett’s communications director, says that election was part of a Tea Party movement, a climate different than today. He also says many Wisconsinites are suffering from “buyer’s remorse” after electing Walker, who has run this state in an “awful way.”
Governor Walker stands by his record and has said Barrett or Falk would bring Wisconsin back to an era of “double-digit tax increases, billion dollar budget deficits and record job loss.”
Obey is also bashing a video from the public union AFSCME that claims Barrett supported Walker’s cuts to collective bargaining. The veteran lawmaker says Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor, could not be blamed for actions in the city budget that were forced by the Governor Walker’s actions at the capitol. Obey says it is like blaming a surgeon who “does surgery after a patient is hit by a truck.”
He adds Barrett’s city budget involved no-layoffs and says the mayor is as strong a supporter of labor rights as himself.
AFSCME later admitted the video was “over the top.” Obey believes that statement is a result of outcry from their members.
AUDIO: Brian Moon reports (1:22)