The importance of Scott Walker

Most important this election cycle, that’s how important:

Best of the Web Today: Political Cycles

Can Mary Burke avoid sinking in an ad hominem spiral?

By JAMES TARANTO

The most important single election next Tuesday is for governor of Wisconsin. The incumbent, Scott Walker, was elected in the Republican wave of 2010 and embarked in 2011 on a serious, substantive program of reform. He succeeded in his effort to eliminate “collective bargaining” for most government employees, a boon to the state fisc and a blow to politicians, mostly Democrats, who benefit from public-sector electioneering at taxpayer expense.

Hell’s fury has a new opponent for the worst.

Because of the latter effect, the Walker reforms provoked furious outrage and extreme tactics. Democratic state legislators fled the state and hid out in Illinois to deny majority Republicans a quorum and forestall passage of the bill. Opponents tried to unseat a state Supreme Court justice and mounted a recall drive against the governor. Both efforts failed; in the 2012 recall—a rematch with 2010 opponent Tom Barrett—Walker expanded his margin of victory. Watching MSNBC that night was awesome.

(The recallers did succeed in capturing a state Senate majority for the Democrats, but the victory was Pyrrhic. The decisive recall came after the end of the 2011-12 legislative session, and the GOP retook the majority in November 2012.

(Some observers argued that Walker prevailed not because a majority of voters supported him, but because a substantial number of nonsupporters objected to the idea of unseating a governor via recall. By that argument, the real test comes next week. Meanwhile, among Republicans there is talk of a Walker presidential campaign should he win (although it is accompanied by skepticism as to whether he has the requisite stage presence).

Opponent a trekkie:

With so much at stake, the campaign has been high-minded and substantive. Haha, just kidding. As we noted last month, Walker’s opponent, Mary Burke, put forward boilerplate policy proposals—literally copied from proposals used by earlier Democratic candidates in other states. In the tradition of Vietnam veteran John Kerry and businessman Mitt Romney, she is running what is known as a “biographical campaign,” one focused less on what she’d do if elected than on what she did before going into politics. Like Romney, her experience is in business. She was an executive at Trek Bicycle Corp., a privately held company founded by her father. . . .

For the rest of this column, cough up a measly $12 for 12 weeks of Wall St. Journal. Tell them Bowman sent you. (heh)

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