The deck is woefully stacked against Gov. Scott Walker.
The rage against Walker and his still-infant gubernatorial tenure – hard to believe it’s only going on four months – has resulted in an unexpectedly close state Supreme Court race that should have been easily won by conservative incumbent David Prosser, as well as the first filings of recall petitions against eligible Republican senators.
But Walker is drawing strength from one who’s been down this road before.
When Mitch Daniels became Indiana governor, he also stripped collective bargaining rights from public workers, but in an even less democratic way than Walker sought to. Daniels issued an executive order that accomplished the same basic function as Walker’s bill that remains tied up in court.
There was public outcry against Daniels at the time. But the governor rebounded to win re-election in 2008 by 18 percent of the vote.
Walker, while testifying Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, held up Daniels as the precedent that shows exoneration is possible.
“When I look at what Mitch Daniels did six years ago in Indiana, he did what we proposed in this legislation to do,” Walker said. “His numbers were far below mine in that first six months he was in office.
“Four years later, he’s re-elected with 58 percent of the vote, because in the end, people saw the results. All the fears didn’t materialize and the results proved the government got better, got more efficient, got more effective and ultimately good public employees in Indiana were rewarded.”
Therein lies the problem for Walker, though. Unless Wisconsin’s economy soars during the next three years and Walker closes in on his 250,000 new jobs pledge – and there is sure to be some creative accounting to help him get there – the governor would be hard-pressed to enjoy the same comeback as Daniels.
It can be done. If Wisconsin residents feel more hopeful about their futures, they would forgive many perceived sins of the Walker administration. But that’s a big if.
Walker used the word “results,” and that’s the only thing that can propel him to re-election – definitive proof that his policies put people to work.
If far more Wisconsin residents have jobs in 2014, Walker will have a great shot at re-election – no matter what people think of him now. If not, images of Walker’s first months in office will loom large during his re-election bid.