In Wisconsin, It's All About Turnout Now

Jun 4, 2012
Originally published on June 12, 2012 4:07 pm

The divisive recall contest in Wisconsin between GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his challenger, Milwaukee's Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett, has moved into its final hours with a deluge of advertisements and rallies to get out the vote Tuesday.

Walker, seeking to avoid becoming the third sitting governor in U.S. history ousted by a recall vote, on Monday planned to visit businesses in four cities, and wrap up the day with rallies in Green Bay and Milwaukee.

Barrett was to make stops at coffee shops and cafes, and cap the day with a rally with former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold at a union hall in Kenosha.

The final pre-election poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, had Walker leading Barrett 50 percent to 47 percent, a smaller lead than in recent surveys. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

Barrett's campaign and supporters have been flooding African-American neighborhoods in Milwaukee, where they see turnout as the key to the success of the Democrat.

In northwest Milwaukee on Sunday evening, the Rev. Jesse Jackson rallied about 250 union members key to the Democrats' get-out-the-vote operation. Jackson was scheduled to appear at another event Monday in Milwaukee with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

In an interview before he took the stage Sunday, Jackson had this to say about President Obama's decision to steer clear of the state during the recall battle:

"We hope his presence is being felt by so many Obama workers and supporters on the ground. What is at stake here is the measure of who we are as a nation in 2012. What is at stake is collective bargaining versus right-to-work laws. What is at stake is how we treat the uninsured. ... The stakes are very high in this campaign."

On whether Obama's absence now will hurt him in November in the state, Jackson said:

"We are so clear that we do not [want] the Republicans to use his presence or absence as a distraction. This battle will be won on the ground. This is grunt time, and so we must affirm who is here, not react to who is not here."

After Walker was elected in 2010, he and the GOP-controlled Legislature curtailed public employee bargaining rights.

"In Wisconsin, you've had the most gallant fight in the whole nation affirming right-to-organize, as opposed to right-to-work laws," Jackson said. "At stake is the destiny of all of labor. If workers win in Wisconsin, workers win in America."

"If workers lose in Wisconsin, workers lose in America," Jackson continued. "Yesterday's Birmingham, yesterday's Selma, is today's Wisconsin. Most specifically, today's Milwaukee. If Milwaukee comes alive and connects with Madison, the whole world changes."

If Walker prevails, what happens next?

"We get back up again. We never give up," said Jackson. "The ground is no place for a champion. This is a test. This is a milestone, not the end zone. No matter what happens, we will not stop working. Win or lose, we will be fighting. The big deal really is [the presidential election] November the 6th."

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