Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s “attacks on workers’ and women’s rights are the definition of a fireable offense” and that recalling him would “[send] a powerful message to the far-right extremists.” But on Friday she downplayed expectations for her party if Walker stays in office. In an interview Friday, Wasserman Schultz said “there aren’t going to be any repercussions,” nationally if Wisconsin voters decide to stick with Walker.
The interview, taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” and reported by the Washington Post, is set to air Sunday.
Wasserman Schultz made an effort to keep the national presidential race separate from the Wisconsin race, which is set to be decided in under two weeks. And there’s a reason for that — Walker has an enormous cash advantage, and has led Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in polls for more than a month, even in surveys commissioned by Democrats.
“It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin. It’s an election that I think is important nationally because Scott Walker is an example of how extreme the tea party has been when it comes to the policies that they have pushed the Republicans to adopt,” Wasserman Schultz said. “But I think it’ll be, at the end of the day, a Wisconsin-based election, and like I said, across the rest of the country and including in Wisconsin, President Obama is ahead.”
Democrats involved in the recall effort have been frustrated by the lack of support from the DNC, despite the late fundraising push. A party official in Wisconsin told the Washington Post that while the DNC has said the right things, they haven’t provided the financial support state forces had expected.
Walker has been a top target of Democrats and organized labor since he and the Republican-led Wisconsin legislature passed a law in 2011 that sharply curtailed collective bargaining rights for most public-sector workers. The law sparked massive protests in the state and nationwide, and the anti-Walker forces collected more than 1 million signatures (nearly twice the amount necessary) to force the recall election.
But things have been looking up for Walker, especially because he was allowed by law to raise unlimited money until the Democrats selected a nominee, giving him a substantial war chest. Even polls released late this week, paid for by the Barrett campaign and Democratic Governors Association, showed Walker leadingby 2 and 3 points, respectively.
The TPM Poll Average of the Wisconsin recall election shows Walker with a 5 percent lead overall.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.