The first Democratic candidate has officially declared in Wisconsin’s recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker: Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
A number of Democrats have been eyeing the race, including Falk, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (who was also Walker’s opponent in the 2010 election), state Sen. Tim Cullen, state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, and others.
“As your governor, I will make different choices than Scott Walker,” Falk said in an e-mail Wednesday morning to her supporter list. “I know Wisconsin is a place where we can have good paying jobs, a clean environment, successful schools and affordable health care. We can have workers and management talking and working together to solve tough problems.”
Falk also posted this YouTube video, declaring her candidacy:
Falk was first elected Dane County (Madison and the surrounding area) Executive in 1997, after having worked for 14 years in the state Department of Justice. She ran for governor in 2002, coming in third place in a closely divided Democratic primary (Jim Doyle 38%, Tom Barrett 34%, and Falk 27%). She then ran for attorney general in 2006, defeating the incumbent in the Democratic primary (due to a drunk-driving scandal) with 53% of the vote, but in November she lost to Republican J.B. Van Hollen by the thinnest of margins, 50.15%-49.73%. She announced her resignation as county executive in late 2010, after nearly 14 years in office.
Wisconsin Republicans were quick out of the gate with a statement attacking Falk, from executive director Stephen Thompson:
Today, Kathy Falk becomes the first of potentially several liberal Democrats who want to take our state back to the failed policies of the past. With Falk’s distinguished career as a government lawyer suing businesses and repeatedly losing statewide elections, we call on Falk to inform Wisconsin families as to how how she will balance Wisconsin’s budget; how many taxes will she raise, and how many workers will she lay off? Governor Walker balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, and has already created thousands of jobs throughout Wisconsin. Voters showed in 2010 that they’re ready to leave the Democrats’ era of job loss and deficit spending behind us, and they’ll do it again in 2012.
It should be noted that while Falk does indeed go by the name “Kathy” among friends and casual settings, she has always used the full “Kathleen” rendering in formal political environments.
Walker is facing a recall election later this year, after Democrats on Tuesday turned in over a million signatures from a petition drive, almost twice the required 540,000 signatures. The threshold for a recall under Wisconsin’s constitution has been for organizers to turn in signatures of at least 25% of the total number of votes in the previous gubernatorial election, while the Democrats surpassed that with about 46%.