MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Unions are facing a make-or-break moment in their campaign to drive Wisconsin's Republican governor from office.
If unions and their Democratic allies prevail in the recall — just over a year after Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation to curb collective bargaining rights for most public workers — it would send a powerful warning to other politicians who might try to limit union rights. Unions also might find it easier to turn out more voters in November for President Barack Obama in this battleground state.
But unions now face a new hurdle in Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who announced last month that he, too, would run in the Democratic primary, even after union leaders tried to talk him out of it. Barrett, who narrowly lost to Walker in 2010, has stronger statewide name recognition than Falk, but he has clashed with unions in the past and refused to take the unions' veto pledge.
Barrett's entry into the race means unions will have to spend even more money to boost Falk's profile. It also puts them in a bind. They are reluctant to publicly attack Barrett for fear of damaging him in the event he wins the primary. Because their ultimate goal remains ousting Walker, they face the prospect of having to spend even more resources in the general election to support a Democrat they don't really trust.