A new poll finds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) trailing two likely opponents in a recall election. However, their narrow leads suggest a long road ahead for Democrats hoping to unseat the embattled governor.
According to PPP, Walker's two potential contenders, Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk, hold narrow leads over the unpopular governor. The poll shows Barrett with a 49-46 advantage, while Falk has a slight 48-47 edge over Walker.
The poll also found that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would have a more commanding lead over Walker than either Barrett or Falk. PPP found that Feingold would hold a 52-45 advantage over the governor. Feingold, however, has said he will not run in the recall election.
Recall organizers gathered over 1 million signatures, nearly double the amount required to force a recall vote. Walker announced Monday that he would not challenge any of the signatures. "We faced an impossible timeline," Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said.
So far, Barrett and Falk have emerged as the most likely challengers to the governor. Currently the mayor of Milwaukee, Barrett ran against Walker in 2010, losing by about five points.
Falk, a former county executive, has the support of major unions like SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and AFSCME. However, as In These Times reported, a few unions have been hesitant to endorse Falk, who made some controversial budget concessions while serving as executive of Dane County. Among those unions is the Teacher Assistant Association, a leader in last year's labor protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol, who were put off by Falk touting $10 million in cuts she made to public employees' salaries.
Barrett, too, has his share of union opposition. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported, two public employee unions have openly opposed his potential candidacy, due to decisions he made about the city's public school systems and his cuts to the city's budget.
Despite these challenges, the recall effort is in full swing. The Wisconsin Democratic Party released its first ad in the recall campaign on Monday, comparing Walker to Richard Nixon. The ad centers on the so-called "Walkergate," the ongoing investigation centering on individuals who served under Walker's time as as Milwaukee County executive. So far, six former Walker aides have been charged with criminal activity.
The pro-recall coalition We Are Wisconsin, who played a big role in collecting the signatures, was pleased with the PPP findings.
"While Scott Walker lies about imaginary out-of-state spending against him, the people of Wisconsin have taken democracy into their own hands, collecting over one million signatures to hold him accountable at the ballot box," executive director Kristen Crowell said in a statement. "After spending millions in dirty corporate cash trying to cover up his extreme agenda and his divisive and corrupt administration, Scott Walker and his out-of-state billionaire backers have absolutely nothing to show for it—in fact, the needle has moved in the opposite direction."