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This article highlights one of the difficulties Mary Burke faces that isn’t related to her plagiarism fiasco. This difficulty is of a totally different nature:

Burke’s challenge against Walker: closing the turnout gap: Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel writes: “Midterm elections are as much about which people vote as they are about how people vote. And Wisconsin’s race for governor is a perfect case in point. In recent weeks, Gov. Scott Walker has carved out a narrow lead over challenger Mary Burke among the most likely voters, even though the race hasn’t changed, and remains deadlocked, among registered voters overall. The central challenge for Democrats in this race has always been turning out as many of their “drop-off voters” as possible, those who are drawn to the polls in presidential years but frequently drop out in other elections. In the last presidential race in the state, almost 3.1 million people voted. In the last midterm, just under 2.2 million people voted. Presidential-only voters are disproportionately nonwhite, lower-income and younger. When they do vote, they expand the electorate, and Democratic candidates tend to do better.”

One of the least talked about things in this race, and I’m definitely guilty of this, is the fact that Gov. Walker has built a great ground game. That’s partially due to an energized Republican Party, partially due to organizing for the Democrats’ ill-fated recall election and partially due to Americans for Prosperity’s work in putting together an independent GOTV operation.

Couple that with the fact that poll after poll shows that Wisconsin voters are generally satisfied with the direction Wisconsin’s heading and you realize that Ms. Burke is facing an uphill climb. That being said, she’s probably happy that she isn’t facing the steep uphill climb that Alison Lundergan-Grimes is facing.

That race was heading in Mitch McConnell’s direction heading into this weekend. Now it’s heading full steam ahead in Sen. McConnell’s direction. This weekend, Project Veritas published a video that caught Ms. Lundergan-Grimes’ campaign staffers saying that Ms. Lundergan-Grimes doesn’t really support coal mining but she has to say that to get elected. That’s like Ms. Burke telling a rally in Green Bay that she isn’t a Packers fan.

Ms. Lundergan-Grimes must have a good security detail. Let’s hope she doesn’t have Julia Pierson heading her security detail.

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If this video gets the exposure it should, Mary Burke’s stumbles will continue:

The Republican Party of Wisconsin put together a website highlighting Ms. Burke’s plagiarism difficulties. It’s called Copycat Mary. This article does an effective job highlighting Ms. Burke’s copycatted jobs plan:

Madison – In an appearance on WISC-TV’s “??For the Record” today, Mary Burke was asked by journalist Jessica Arp to name one unique Mary Burke idea in her plan. After a moment of thought, Burke named three things?,? but none of them were unique: anaerobic digesters, academic career planning, and upping the number of people in Wisconsin with degrees. These examples were uncovered by Buzzfeed News as cases of plagiarism?? ?and also include some of Governor Walker’s accomplishments.?

This just adds to Burke’s problems. Though this isn’t plagiarism, it’s worse from the standpoint that she’s taking credit for her jobs plan even though it’s mostly been taken from other candidates. It’s important to remember that this was the centerpiece of her candidacy. Now it’s been effectively discredited to the point that people are rightly questioning whether she’s got any original thoughts on creating jobs.

This won’t help her, either:

Mary Burke Also Said Academic Career Plans In High School – It Might Sound Familiar Because It Has Been A Priority Of Governor Scott Walker. Under Governor Walker, every student, beginning in the 6th grade, will have the opportunity to create an academic and career plan based on their interests. Nearly $1.1 million will be provided to school districts for students in 6th-12th grade. (2013 Wisconsin Act 20)

Governor Walker Also Provided Funding For Testing To Measure Work Readiness To Ensure Students Are Ready For College Or Career While In High School. (2013 Wisconsin Act 20)

It’s one thing to lift ideas from failed candidates’ plans. It’s totally different when you attempt to tell people that you’re going to champion a policy that your opponent has already implemented. There’s no way that doesn’t get highlighted.

It’s inexplicable that she’d attempt this. Is she that desperate? Or is she betting that nobody will care what she’s doing? Does she think that nobody’s paying attention? Whichever it is, it isn’t a smart bet.

On a different note, the Republican Party of Wisconsin deserves praise for their innovative messaging and fundraising tactics. This Copycat Store is brilliant. It’s a way to contribute to the Republican Party of Wisconsin while getting Mary Burke: Plagiarized t-shirts.

Finally, the important point of this is that this video is playing off Burke’s plagiarism difficulties. That’s what tipped this race in Gov. Walker’s direction. Gov. Walker went from trailing by 3 to leading by 5 in 3 short weeks. Thanks to this website and video, the Republican Party of Wisconsin is exploiting the situation to its maximum advantage. I’d be surprised if Gov. Walker’s lead doesn’t grow in the next Marquette Law School Poll.

I think that the next poll will push this race from toss-up to Leans Republican to Solid Republican. That’s quite the jump in a month.

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The latest polling in the Walker-Burke race show Walker expanding his lead:

MILWAUKEE (News Release) – A new Marquette Law School Poll in the Wisconsin governor’s race finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 50 percent of likely voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say they are certain to vote in the November election.

This is important because a) it’s the first time Gov. Walker has topped 50% and b) it’s a likely voter screen, which is typically the most predictive polling.

The Walker surge still isn’t complete. There’s still time for more momentum swings before the election. Still, there’s no denying that Burke’s credibility has been hurt. There’s no question that the turning point was the plagiarism scandal. Since then, she’s been on the defensive.

Ms. Burke wants to change the subject. That isn’t happening because the media keeps finding discrepancies between her statements and new documents. Those documents show how extensive the plagiarism was. That’s gonna hurt Burke until Election Day, in my opinion. Apparently, people have tuned her out because they can’t trust her. It’s one thing when the people think of politicians as corrupt. It’s another when they’re given verifiable documentation that the politician has lied repeatedly to them.

The trust that a candidate has built can crash in an instant because of a lie. If the candidate lies multiple times, that trust becomes difficult to rebuild. In this instance, it’s led Gov. Walker out of a 3-point deficit and lifted him into a 5-point lead.

It’s taken a little over 3 weeks to swing the polls. While I think Ms. Burke is damaged goods whose hopes are diminishing, that doesn’t mean I think she can’t mount a comeback. Gov. Walker should still run like he’s 2 points down with 3 weeks to Election Day. He’s just jumped into the lead. He needs to finish the race strong. That’s the best way to fight complacency and arrogance.

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According to the latest Marquette Law School Poll, Scott Walker’s surge is continuing:

MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll in the Wisconsin governor’s race finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 50 percent of likely voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say they are certain to vote in the November election.

Among registered voters, Walker receives 46 percent and Burke 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent saying they will vote for someone else. This is the first time since March a candidate has held a lead outside the margin of error among likely voters. The results for registered voters remain inside the margin of error. (See clarification above.)

In the previous Marquette poll, conducted Sept. 11-14, Walker held a 49-46 edge over Burke among likely voters and registered voters tied at 46 percent support for each candidate.

I wrote this post less than a week ago. Here’s what I said then:

At a time when people are satisfied with how things are going, it isn’t helping that Ms. Burke is seen as a marketing specialist. Wisconsinites are looking for a policy wonk, a solutions-oriented person with Wisconsin’s best interests at heart. Throughout this fiasco, Burke hasn’t fit that part. That’s why the wheels keep falling off the bus.

This poll is verifiable proof that I was right about Scott Walker’s surge. If Mary Burke doesn’t do something to stem this pro-Walker tide, she’ll lose. Here’s why:

A large gender gap is present in voting for both governor and attorney general. Among likely voters, Walker leads among men with 62 percent to 34 percent for Burke. Among women, Burke leads with 54 percent to Walker’s 40 percent. With registered voters, Walker leads among men 54-39 percent while Burke leads among women 50-40 percent.

It isn’t surprising that men favor Republicans or that women prefer Democrats. That’s been happening for years, if not decades. What’s news is that Walker is favored by men by a 2:1 margin. That’s stunning and unprecedented.

If Burke doesn’t narrow that gap by at least 10 points, she’ll get beaten like a drum.

If Gov. Walker’s surge continues another week, the RGA could then focus more attention on other competitive gubernatorial race, like the one in Minnesota. If that happens, things will get real interesting real quick.

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Apparently, Mary Burke will continue stumbling towards the finish line a little longer:

Asked by reporters to define plagiarism, Burke said: “This, this probably, using words, exact words, from a source that doesn’t, that isn’t cited and isn’t attributable.”

As tortured as those words look on paper, they look infinitely worse in this video:

Burke’s biggest problem isn’t that her campaign plagiarized other people’s ideas. It’s that she’s playing into the narrative that she just isn’t that interested in policies. That’s sapping her momentum at the worst time. She started her campaign talking about her jobs plan and how she’d talked with some of Wisconsin’s brightest people in putting her plan together. Now that the campaign is in the stretch drive, the wheels appear to be coming off Burke’s campaign bus. In the video, it’s torture listening to her try and answer the question about plagiarism.

Burke’s other problem is that people are questioning whether she’s honest or whether she’s just another slick politician. Christian Schneider’s article didn’t portray her in the most flattering light:

But for Burke, this solidifies the impression that she is the pyrite candidate; her flashy bank account gives her credibility, but she lacks even a modicum of substance. Her campaign is being buttressed by a cadre of consultants and media professionals who evidently hand her a jobs plan and say, “Here, now go sell it.”

Christian Schneider is a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a newspaper not prone to treating Scott Walker with kid gloves. If the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is saying these types of things about Ms. Burke, rest assured that more conservative papers serving places like Green Bay and rural Wisconsin aren’t casting Burke in a flattering light.

At a time when people are satisfied with how things are going, it isn’t helping that Ms. Burke is seen as a marketing specialist. Wisconsinites are looking for a policy wonk, a solutions-oriented person with Wisconsin’s best interests at heart.

Throughout this fiasco, Burke hasn’t fit that part. That’s why the wheels keep falling off the bus.

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The Republican Party of Wisconsin is hitting Mary Burke with this radio ad:

Joe Zepecki, Burke’s campaign spokesman, is doing his best to rewrite history:

Burke campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki said this case wasn’t one of plagiarism because the consultant had recycled his own words. “These allegations are false. A respected professor of journalism has made clear that these allegations do not fit the definition,” Zepecki said.

Actually, that isn’t all that he did:

In the examples dug up by Walker’s campaign staff, Burke has this to say in her rural community report: “While manufacturing employment in general has been declining for years, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs.”

A 2003 report by the Council of State Governments made a similar statement: “At a time when U.S. manufacturing employment is generally on the decline, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs on the horizon.”

Burke’s veterans plan, “Investing for Jobs and Opportunity: A Plan for Wisconsin’s Veterans,” has this to say about litigation: “This places additional burdens on those who were injured and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases make it through the lengthened court process.”

A 2013 column by Darrin Witucki in the Dunn County News carries some of the same language: “The opposition argued that the bill would impose additional burdens on those that were injured — and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases made it through the lengthened court process.”

Mr. Zepecki’s statement doesn’t hold up. Clearly, things written by a columnist isn’t recycling the consultant’s words. Neither is lifting words from a Council of State Governments’ document.

One expert on plagiarism said Tuesday that the issue isn’t so clear cut.

Burke’s jobs plan was presented as hers and the consultant was not named at all in it. Burke has written that, to draw up the report, she consulted with “some of the best minds in Wisconsin.”

The consultant in question for Burke, Eric Schnurer of the Pennsylvania firm Public Works, was never paid directly by Burke’s campaign. Schnurer and Burke’s media firm, GMMB, didn’t immediately respond to questions Tuesday about whether Schnurer had worked as a subcontractor for GMMB, as Burke’s campaign says he did.

Burke’s statement isn’t honest. Whether it’s plagiarism is virtually irrelevant at this point. Saying that she talked with “some of the best minds in Wisconsin” is BS. The truth is that her consultant lifted words from his previous campaigns and from other people’s statements.

The truth is that her jobs plan is a rehash of past campaigns.

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When a politician gets caught lifting other politicians’ ideas, things can go south quickly. That’s what appears to be happening with Mary Burke, the Democrat who’s running to unseat Scott Walker as Wisconsin’s governor. Christian Schneider’s article highlights why this charge might doom her campaign:

And this is why this latest charge hurts Burke. A scandal really only hurts a candidate if it reinforces an existing impression of that politician. If someone were to charge, for instance, that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was slow-witted or that U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) spent her nights at underground dogfights, it would be laughed off, as those run counter to what the public knows about them.

But for Burke, this solidifies the impression that she is the pyrite candidate; her flashy bank account gives her credibility, but she lacks even a modicum of substance. Her campaign is being buttressed by a cadre of consultants and media professionals who evidently hand her a jobs plan and say, “Here, now go sell it.”

While I agree with much of what Mr. Schneider wrote, I’d just add that the thing that hurts candidates the most is the appearance that the politician isn’t a man or woman of gravitas. Apolitical people generally solutions-oriented people. If they get the whiff of Ms. Burke just being another politician who’ll say anything to get elected, she’s history.

It is a similar avatar of inauthenticity that could sink Burke’s campaign. She is, after all, someone who derides the offshoring of jobs yet made her millions working for a company that makes 99% of its bicycles in other countries. Evidently she didn’t find any ways to help working people while on her two-year snowboarding sabbatical in Argentina and Colorado in the mid-1990s. Her persona and policies simply don’t ring true.

Some candidates have a gift of fitting right in with the regular Joe. Bill Clinton had that gift. George W. Bush had that gift, too, though to a lesser extent than Bill Clinton had it. Ms. Burke doesn’t have that gift.

The biggest thing going against Ms. Burke is how much rank-and-file union members like Gov. Walker’s reforms have worked. After Gov. Walker’s union reforms went into effect, school districts saved tons of money because they didn’t have to buy their health insurance from WEAC Trust, the teachers union’s health insurance company. WEAC Trust still exists. It’s just that they have to compete for their business. Prior to the Walker reforms, they could negotiate that into their collective bargaining agreement. At that point, they could charge outrageous prices.

After getting rid of that expensive health insurance, school districts freed up enough money to hire additional teachers while reducing class sizes and/or giving teachers raises. Lots of teachers like the fact that they’re getting raises or that their class sizes got smaller or that their health insurance just got cheaper.

It’s pretty telling that Ms. Burke hasn’t really made those reforms a campaign issue.

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Conn Carroll’s article highlights how the Mary Burke plagiarism scandal have hurt her:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has surged ahead of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, as Burke has been forced to fire campaign staff responsible for copying her campaign’s job plan from other failed candidates.

The most recent Marquette Law School Poll, conducted September 11-14, found Walker enjoying a 3-point, 49-46 percent lead over Burke. This was a marked improvement for Walker who trailed Burke in Marquette’s earlier poll, conducted August 21-23, by 49-47 percent.

That’s a 6-point swing in less than a month. I’d call that significant. The Burke campaign’s worries are legitimate, to say the least. The plagiarism is just the least of her worries, though:

Burke’s week only got worse after BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that portions of Burke’s jobs plan had been copied from four other Democratic candidates, three of whom went on to lose their elections.

Ed Morrissey’s commentary highlights another potential difficulty for Burke’s campaign:

And now Burke will certainly claim not to know that her other policy positions in her own campaign turn out to be cut-and-paste jobs, too. That will lead Wisconsin voters to ask just what about Burke’s campaign is her own thoughts and words, as well as question her ability as an executive. So far, Burke hasn’t exactly impressed as an executive with the running of her political campaign, and one has to wonder what voters can expect if she becomes the CEO of state government. With the majority of Wisconsin voters liking the direction of the state under Walker, these revelations will make them less and less likely to opt for new leadership, especially when the alternative is amateurish incompetence.

Burke’s campaign is in danger of hitting a tipping point. If she isn’t careful, she could get questioned for why she didn’t scrutinize her jobs plan. After all, that’s the cornerstone of her campaign. It isn’t a positive reflection on her abilities that she didn’t pay attention to the cornerstone of her candidacy.

Walker is no stranger to come from behind victories. In 2012, the same Marquette poll found Walker trailing his then-opponent Tom Barrett 46-47 percent. But Walker soon surged ahead of Barrett in Marquette’s final poll before the election 50-44 percent, before beating Barrett easily 53-46 percent.

Burke’s campaign is in a precarious position. If she doesn’t do something to change Walker’s momentum quickly, things could get real late real fast.

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There’s no question that Scott Walker is in the fight for his political life this cycle. That doesn’t mean his campaign’s discovery of Mary Burke’s policies containing other people’s ideas won’t hurt Ms. Burke.

In the examples dug up by Walker’s campaign staff, Burke has this to say in her rural community report: “While manufacturing employment in general has been declining for years, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs.”

A 2003 report by the Council of State Governments made a similar statement: “At a time when U.S. manufacturing employment is generally on the decline, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs on the horizon.”

Predictably, Burke’s campaign is attempting to spin this:

Her campaign spokesman, Joe Zepecki, rejected the Republican criticism after reviewing the disputed material. “These baseless allegations reek of desperation,” he said by email. “Given more bad jobs numbers… that were released last week, it’s no surprise they’re desperate; what’s surprising is how transparent they’re being about it.”

First, they aren’t allegations. They’re verified facts. The comparisons are exceptionally straightforward. Next, saying that this smacks of desperation speaks more to Burke’s campaign mindset than it does to Gov. Walker’s campaign. I wouldn’t be desperate if I’d just found something that shows my opponent is a plagiarist. I’d be quite happy with the discovery. I’d still work hard but I’d be reinvigorated.

Third, there’s nothing transparent about the Walker campaign’s desperation because it likely doesn’t exist. This is the Burke campaign’s attempt to downplay the fact that she’s looking like a typical liberal without an original thought. Why would people vote for someone who’s plans aren’t her own?

Burke’s veterans plan, “Investing for Jobs and Opportunity: A Plan for Wisconsin’s Veterans,” has this to say about litigation: “This places additional burdens on those who were injured and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases make it through the lengthened court process.”

A 2013 column by Darrin Witucki in the Dunn County News carries some of the same language: “The opposition argued that the bill would impose additional burdens on those that were injured — and in some cases plaintiffs could die before their cases made it through the lengthened court process.”

Again, where’s Mary Burke’s thinking? Isn’t she capable of putting her plans together? Is she just another cookie cutter progressive who takes orders from her special interest puppeteers?

At this point, it’s legitimate to question whether Ms. Burke is just another pleasant-sounding woman who isn’t ready for primetime. It’s legitimate to ask whether she’d be a leader or whether she’s just the public face to the Democrats’ special interests. At this point, it isn’t wrong to think she’s just the face behind the Democrats’ push to defeat Gov. Walker.

Based on this video, Ms. Burke apparently has farmed out her policies to staffers:

Ms. Burke’s actions are shameful. While it might be ok to assign some policy-making responsibilities to a senior staffer, it doesn’t make sense to turn substantial parts of her jobs plan to a contractor.

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Few apolitical people know that the Democratic Party has put in place a system that chills political involvement and that buys elections. I have proof that both statements are true. Starting with buying elections, this story proves that the DFL broke Minnesota’s campaign lawss and bought 11 Senate seats:

The Republican Party of Minnesota began filing complaints in October 2012, charging that DFL campaign materials were wrongfully listed as independent expenditures, but the materials were not because the candidates were actively engaged in photo shoots in producing the print ads, thereby breaching the legal wall between candidates and independent expenditures.

For those that want to argue that this is just Republican sour grapes, I’d ask them to explain this:

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Tuesday, Dec. 17, fined the Minnesota DFL Senate Caucus $100,000 for wrongfully working with 13 of its candidates in the 2012 election.

The $100,000 civil penalty is among the biggest in state history.

These sitting senators should be kicked out of the Senate for their actions. Further, they should be fined for their actions, as should the DFL Senate Caucus for their actions. Finally, there should be a special election to replace Democrats that broke the law.

If it’s a financial hardship for these Democrats, good. I’m not interested in making their lives comfortable. I’m interested in making examples of them. They’ve lost the right to be called public servants. They’ve earned the right to be called lawbreakers. These Democrats have earned the right to be considered unethical politicians.

While buying elections is a serious thing, it’s trivial compared with the political witch hunt that’s happening in Wisconsin:

MADISON, Wis. – Conservative targets of a Democrat-launched John Doe investigation have described the secret probe as a witch hunt.

That might not be a big enough descriptor, based on records released Friday by a federal appeals court as part of a massive document dump.

Attorneys for conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth point to subpoenas requested by John Doe prosecutors that sought records from “at least eight phone companies” believed to serve the targets of the investigation. O’Keefe and the club have filed a civil rights lawsuit against John Doe prosecutors, alleging they violated conservatives’ First Amendment rights.

While there’s no doubt Democrats will deny a connection between the IRS-TEA Party scandal and this witch hunt, they’re too similar in intent to ignore. Here’s what John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County prosecutor leading this witch hunt, obtained through his pre-dawn paramilitary raids:

Court documents show the extraordinary breadth of the prosecutors’ subpoena requests.

They sought phone records for a year-and-a-half period, “which happened to be the most contentious period in political politics,” the conservatives note. They note that prosecutors did not pursue the same tactics with left-leaning organizations that pumped tens of millions of dollars into Wisconsin’s recall elections, in what certainly appeared to be a well-coordinated effort.

Among other documents, prosecutors sought “all call detail records including incoming and outgoing calls,” “billing name and information,” “subscriber name and information including any application for service,” according to the conservatives’ court filing.

In other words, these Democrat prosecutors wanted to intimidate people they didn’t agree with. They used tactics third world dictators use to intimidate the citizenry:

Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the dragnet two years ago, and, according to court documents, with the help of the state Government Accountability Board, the probe was expanded to five counties. The John Doe proceeding compelled scores of witnesses to testify, and a gag order compelled them to keep their mouths shut or face jail time. Sources have described predawn “paramilitary-style” raids in which their posessions were rifled through and seized by law enforcement officers.

This isn’t just a fishing expedition. It’s a message from Democrats to Republicans that they’ll use their offices to intimidate their political enemies. It’s a message from Democrats that they’re weaponizing government agencies.

This isn’t just happening in Wisconsin. It’s happened in Texas, too, where a Democrat with a penchant for getting highly intoxicated abused her office to indict Gov. Rick Perry for doing what other governors have done since the founding of their respective states. She indicted him because he vetoed a bill cutting off funding for her office.

It isn’t coincidence that Scott Walker and Rick Perry are considered potential presidential candidates. In fact, I’d argue that Chisholm launched his fishing expedition into Gov. Walker to defeat him so he can’t run for president.

Check back later today for Part II of this series.

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