A national group dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women has weighed in on the contest to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), where the Democratic field remains unsettled.
Emily's List announced Thursday that they will back former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk for the Democratic nod to oppose Walker in the recall election later this year. One of two women running for governor, Falk is currently considered the frontrunner in the Democratic contest, though one possible heavyweight Democratic contender remains undecided about a bid. Today's endorsement could sway funds and support to bolster Falk's candidacy.
"The people of Wisconsin are fed up with Republican Gov. Scott Walker's anti-worker, anti-family policies. The harmful, right-wing agenda being forced on Wisconsin by Scott Walker and his big-money corporate allies has fired up working families across the country who are demanding change. The answer is the experienced leadership of Kathleen Falk," Emily's List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.
Falk, the first candidate to enter the recall election, is currently running against state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout for the Democratic nomination. An Emily's List spokeswoman said the decision to back Falk was made shortly after she entered the contest -- and before Vinehout made a decision to run -- based on what the group considers Falk's strong credentials and the need for a quick decision on backing a candidate in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), who lost to Walker in the 2010 governor's race, remains undecided on whether to seek a rematch. A source confirmed that Barrett is seriously considering entering the contest, where he'd be viewed as a frontrunner, but is not expected to make a final decision until after the April mayoral election, where he is seeking another term. Barrett is expected to easily win reelection as mayor, but Walker defeated him in the 2010 race by a 6-percent margin.
Retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) have both declined to enter the race to oppose Walker.
Falk unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002 and state attorney general in 2006, but is now expected to see an influx of money for her race endorsement, and Emily's List plans to actively fundraise for her. She is currently the only gubernatorial candidate the women's group has backed for the 2012 election season.
A spokeswoman for Emily's List declined to say if the group would run third party advertisements on Falk's behalf, citing federal law barring coordination between the group and the political action committee which would run any spots. A political action committee affiliated with Emily's List has previously run ads on behalf of candidates supported by the group. Emily's List did weigh in on last year's state Senate recalls in Wisconsin, backing five Democratic women seeking seats. The group is also backing U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) in her race for a U.S. Senate seat from Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has not made a final decision on whether a recall will proceed against Walker. The agency is still reviewing the more than one million signatures submitted on recall petitions. The recall also seeks to oust Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) and four Republican state senators. Recall efforts began after protests over Walker's collective bargaining ban and budget cuts last year.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that state Sen. Tim Cullen was running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Cullen has dropped his candidacy.