When Andy Gronik first started polling to gauge a campaign for governor back in April, the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice described the Milwaukee businessman as “Mary Burke 2.0 but with less public service experience.”

Gronik funded the poll himself, but in an inauspicious turn, the out-of-state polling firm he commissioned referred to Wisconsinites as “Wisconsinians” – like “Illinoisans.” The latest example that Gronik’s isn’t ready for prime time is his declaration that he while he was willing to put up the cash for a poll, he told the AP he won’t self-fund his campaign.

That comes at the same time as Walker campaign manager Joe Fadness announced Walker’s campaign had raised $3.5 million in the first half of 2017 and has $2.4 million cash-on-hand. Gronik’s advertisement that he won’t put his own money into the campaign indicates he won’t be able to compete with a well-funded and well-oiled Walker re-election machine.

If the Democrats are going to nominate a rich guy from Milwaukee with no statewide name ID, pinching pennies won’t be a winning recipe.

Walker is also still extremely popular with the conservative grassroots, who were mobilized by the recall and remain motivated to support the governor. Walker is also capturing the political center. In his 2017-19 state budget, Walker proposes an historic increase in funding for K-12 education, far and away the most popular priority identified in the recent Marquette University Law poll.

The poll also found Walker’s approval rating improving, up three from the last poll to an even 48-48 split. Since 2015 the governor’s poll numbers have consistently improved.

Any Democrat who hopes to challenge Walker in a serious way will have to hope that conservatives are napping on election day. They’ll also have to win over the progressive base – and on that count, Gronik appears to be taking his hackneyed attempt at polling to heart.

The AP reports that Gronik, who describes himself as a “progressive businessman,” plans to run on a left-wing utopia platform:

Gronik, 60, told AP in an exclusive interview that as governor he would fight to restore collective bargaining rights to public workers lost under Walker. He also said he would reinstitute the nonpartisan elections board Walker dissolved, stop further expansion of the private school voucher program and accept federal money Walker rejected to help pay for health insurance for more poor people.

In other words, as governor Gronik would spend all his time tilting at windmills in order to “make Wisconsin Illinois again.” If he’s to be taken at his poll-tested word, he’d try to get rid of Act 10 and Right-to-Work, returning Wisconsin to a time when employees could be forced into unions and compelled to pay dues, most of which end up in the Democratic Party’s coffers.

That’s a good deal for the flailing Democratic Party, whose “compelling vision” for Wisconsin literally hinged on compelling Wisconsin workers to contribute to their election machinery. But it’s a raw deal for the many workers public and private who have rejected union membership since the workplace freedoms have been enacted. It’s also a raw deal for taxpayers, who have saved more than $5 billion as a result of Act 10 over the years.

He would also attempt to revive the Government Accountability Board, the partisan-stacked panel that tried squashing the free speech rights of conservatives in the 2014 elections and aided a rogue prosecutor in illegally raiding the homes of conservative donors and activists. The GAB demonstrated that non-partisan panels are a fantasy. Instead, it was replaced by a bipartisan pair of commissions that have functioned well thus far.

Gronik’s plan would restore a system that led to the intimidation of his party’s political opponents during a crucial election season. Perhaps Gronik could bring in Rahm Emanuel to head the new agency.

Gronik would also try to freeze the growth of school choice in Wisconsin. The ultimate goal of The Left is to kill the program altogether, meaning Wisconsin parents who want to send their kids to schools other than public schools – but aren’t as rich as Gronik – would be out of luck.

That’s good news for teachers unions and public school bureaucrats who can’t get enough taxpayer money, but bad news for anyone who opposes government-monopolized education.

He also says he’ll take federal money for an expansion of BadgerCare. Democrats have long claimed that taking the federal money would mean a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in “free” money, but in reality the scheme would needlessly add more Wisconsinites to the dole and contribute to the deterioration of the individual insurance market caused by Obamacare.

Gronik and other leftists conveniently ignore the fact that any “free federal money” is just borrowed money that adds to the federal deficit and debt, now at about $20 TRILLION. Walker made a prudent choice by rejecting the Medicaid expansion, believing that the federal government can’t be trusted to keep its funding promise and understanding that all “free” federal money comes with countless strings attached. Under the plan Walker adopted instead, 94.3 percent of Wisconsinites have health insurance coverage.

Asked if he trusts the feds to keep their promise to cover 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion’s costs, Gronik essentially answers “yes.” That, or he doesn’t care if future costs fall on Wisconsin taxpayers.

It’s all an academic exercise, anyway. If past trends hold true – Gov. Walker’s three election wins, the GOP gaining increasing majorities in both houses of the Legislature, Senator Johnson’s re-election, Feingold’s re-rejection, and Trump’s carrying Wisconsin in November – then the Democrats are going to have to do a lot better than an unknown “progressive businessman” from Milwaukee who botched his first poll and plans to run on creating a left-wing utopia that Wisconsin voters have learned materializes as taxpayer hell.

If Gronik wants to find a state that rejects pro-growth reforms and is forced to deal with constant budget calamities and tax hikes, he should hop in his car and drive due south to Illinois – and stay there.

Photo: Andy Gronik (AP)

Is it possible that no viable candidate will step up to challenge Scott Walker for the governor’s mansion in 2018? Well, after what passes for the Democrat Party bench in Wisconsin ran for the hills en masse, one more high profile name declared his intent to sit this one out – Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

From our friends at Media Trackers:

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin bristles at the notion that it is in disarray. But that denial comes at roughly the same time as news that one of their highest profile potential candidates to challenge Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2018 is taking a pass. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said Tuesday he will not be running for governor in 2018. Most political observers, both left and right, felt Parisi was a lock to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Walker. Instead, Parisi joins a growing list of names who will skip the 2018 governor’s race.

Parisi’s announcement comes after Rep. Ron Kind, state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, former state Sen. Tim Cullen, and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele all bowed out, leaving the party with no candidate with even a modicum of untarnished statewide name ID. Susan Happ, Jefferson County DA who ran a failed bid for Attorney General, hasn’t bowed out yet.

Bader also raises an interesting question. If the Dems can’t shake another business person out of the bush (a la Mary Burke – we saw how that turned out) or cajole someone like state Rep. Dana Wachs into launching himself into a highly unlikely campaign, then they just might be stuck with Bob Harlow, the 25-year-old who ran a failed bid for Congress in 2016…in California.

The Journal Sentinel is also reporting that a Milwaukee businessman, Andy Gronik, 59, also personally funded a poll that compared him to Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and Parisi. In an inauspicious turn, the out-of-state polling firm referred to Wisconsinites as “Wisconsinians,” the JS’s Dan Bice reported. Bice wrote, “Think of him as Mary Burke 2.0, but with a skinnier wallet and and less public service experience.”

The poll didn’t ask about Wachs or Happ.

Vinehout, who is up for re-election in 2018 in an increasingly Republican district (her Senate district contains the only seat where a Republican ousted a Democratic incumbent in the Assembly, and she squeaked out a win over Mel Pittman in 2012), is still in the running.

Will Vinehout eschew a potentially tough re-election bid and run for governor instead?


Yesterday at RightWisconsin, Rick Esenberg broadly suggested that House of Cards-level political maneuvering is at play in Mary Burke’s candidacy, that her victory is nothing more than a front to elevate the un-electable John Lehman to the governor’s office after a few years. After all, as she’s admitted, Ms. Burke hasn’t been able to string together four or more consecutive years at a real job — ever.

It would explain a lot. The left will point and scoff and laugh off such levels of organization and planning, but we’ve spent the last year discussing in depth how every move Democrats make are always politically motivated. In the context of last week’s news that Ms. Burke may have been fired from Trek by her own family — a hypothesis Chris made over a year ago, before anyone was even talking about her — some pressing questions would be answered by an honest candidate.

But we know she’s not. She’s a pawn, a hairdo, a marionette operated by the Democrat Establishment. Now there’s a feasible theory for exactly why beyond just implementing a party’s agenda. There’s a next move to be made.

Let’s clear the air.

1. What was your decision-making process to run for office? Who first approached you, when, and with what information? To what extent do you or your campaign communicate with DPW Chair Mike Tate, and what role if any did he or the DPW apparatus play in your decision to run for governor?

This is the big ‘un. Her original campaign message was something about “getting Wisconsin going again,” or some nonsense, in one of those campaign ads that talked a lot but didn’t say much. Its sole intent was to position herself as not being Scott Walker. As polls have shown, that’s worked; Democrats are considering a vote for her as a vote against the governor, not necessarily for any great Democrat ideas. (Maybe that’s because there are none, nyuk nyuk nyuk).

Everything about her seemed fabricated and manufactured. Nothing lined up: She says she understood business but also an increased minimum wage; her philanthropic giving was often tied to performance, but Democrat support of unions flies in the face of economic efficiency; she said but “of course” public employees should contribute to their benefits packages but she would have magically been able to have negotiated an agreement that saved the state’s budget but didn’t leave unionistas in a sputtering, sobbing rage after the fact.

It’s my guess she ran for a few reasons: She could prove to her family that fired her from their company that she has something to contribute to the world; she had the money to spend; and, in light of Mr. Esenberg’s thesis, she wouldn’t have to do it for four whole years.

2. Your message has also been one of unity and bringing people together. Why was it so hard for you to name one good thing about Scott Walker during the first debate? And why, when the president came to town to stump for you, did his message center on Republican obstructionism and not your ability to transcend the political fray?

We’re not sure what she believes that isn’t political posturing. Democrats are quick to accuse the governor of playing party politics, and I suppose he did: good Republican governors run on economic reforms that make sense for their states. He did what he said he’d do. The left is so wrapped up in advancing their agenda regardless of results they must forget that good politics and effective policy are not mutually exclusive, which is what the governor’s agenda has proven. Conservative ideas work, liberal ideas do not. Wisconsin has been a showcase for that since January 2011. As a unifier and consensus-builder, Ms. Burke would have to have brought to the table some moderate or conservative ideas, but there are none.

3. Why haven’t you appeared with family members in any ads?

This one seems like a given. John Burke, speaking in front of a factory, a chyron declaring his position as leader of Trek. It would go something like this:

“My sister Mary has always been one of the hardest-working people in the room. When she joined the family business, she led the charge to increase sales in Germany, helping to make Trek a worldwide brand, and helping to create hundreds of jobs for hard-working people in Wisconsin.

Her reputation has always been one of synthesizing the best ideas in the room into practical initiatives, no matter who came up with them. And that’s the spirit she’ll take to Madison to end the gridlock her opponent has created…”

But that never happened. Nothing like it ever did. If she has the desire to win the election independent of her family’s name, she should have never leveraged her alleged business prowess in the first place, or spent much of her own inherited fortune. Second, every move she’s made has been a political calculation, and it would be incongruous for her to suddenly be principled about using her family name for political points.

There might be bad blood in the family. Who knows. But if she can’t rebuild broken family relationships, what hope does she have to unite a bitter, divided legislature?

A brief parable:

Mike Tate and a small group of other men in suits – the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and his core operatives – sat hunched over, brooding and deep in thought.  Tom Barrett had just lost to Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive. The year was 2010, a very bad year for Democrats all around the nation. They dedicated themselves to bringing down Walker that day.

They knew that Walker wouldn’t trod lightly, and they were right. So after a series of reforms that dramatically undercut the state’s public employee unions – and with it a key client group, a key source of money and political power for the Democratic Party – they joined with their union allies in a recall effort. All were dismayed when that effort, the result of work that began the day Walker put his hand on the bible, failed miserably. Their candidate in the recall, the same as in 2010, emerged from a competitive primary process, but he was horribly uninspiring and ran a C-minus campaign.

Tate and his lieutenants began making phone calls, redoubling their efforts to beat Walker, this time the usual way, in a regular election. They resented the primary that produced Barrett, they resented their woefully thin bench, and they resented their status as a second-rate party with second-rate legislators and a losing record. Their party’s last governor was despised around the state.

For Tate, it was personal. His ultimate goal became to ascend from a statewide nobody running a party not long ago fronted by Graeme Zielinski, a flame-throwing drunk driver now disgraced, to a bona fide party boss with direct and unlimited access to the governor’s mansion. Their governor.

That’s why he and his team created Mary Burke. Tate and his apparatchiks decided to come up with the ideal candidate on paper and find her in person – the result was a business woman with some government experience, very deep pockets, and virtually no record to assail.

When approached, Burke was agape. She didn’t regard her own life’s experience as being all that remarkable. After all, she was asked to leave her own family’s company when sales in her region, Europe, began taking off with no one competent at the helm. She spent years on vacation, only to return and leave the company again. Burke was later asked to serve, then asked to leave, as commerce secretary by Jim Doyle’s chief of staff; even her predecessor in the job described her as a “disaster.” Burke put down the phone both conflicted and excited.

The premonition Tate sold her was one of a savior of the state’s Democratic Party, a savior named Mary Burke. Who would turn that down? Granted, she’d mostly watched the party flail in recent years from the sideline. Uninvolved as she’d been, her mouth watered at the prospect of wielding the power of being governor, especially at this point in her life, long past what she’d thought was her lifetime’s pinnacle. Perhaps the best is yet to come for me, she thought.

They told her she had to run for something to establish some credibility as having been elected to something, but she couldn’t lose. The stakes were high, so she dumped more than $100,000 into a run for Madison School Board to ensure a win. She won the race. Events were coming to a confluence; at this point, most knew the recall would sputter out. Barrett was a dud. She might have a chance.

When the recall did fail Burke was no longer the bench warmer, but the starting pitcher. After her election to the school board a gaggle of liberals flooded her life, telling her how to think, how to act, what to do, redoing her hair and makeup and wardrobe and applying makeup and telling her one-liners she could use and introducing her to the staff that was being brought in and what tactics the nascent campaign would be using. It was a whirlpool; Burke was thankful to have such competent handlers.

With Burke being taken care of, the string pullers at the DPW began working on the other side of the equation – stopping Walker’s supporters and coming up with a plan to impugn the apparently popular governor. Their challenge was how to shut down the outside money they knew was standing by to help Walker, buttress the money standing by for them, and keep their base frothed up over a lackluster candidate they’d never heard of. They decided to do everything in their power to avert a primary so their base wouldn’t get a glimpse of a candidate other than the one of their creation.

They made more calls and came to understand what must be done to thwart Walker’s deep-pocketed supporters. Working with Milwaukee County’s district attorney, John Chisholm, a known Democrat whose wife was a union steward deeply affected by Walker’s reforms, a series of anonymous investigations were planned under a strange methodology known as the John Doe process that would essentially grant them unlimited ability to raid, probe, and seize, allege and charge, and maybe even get a few favorable judgements to shut down Walker’s supporters. The process also allowed gag orders to be issued, threatening those being investigated with criminal charges. What a dumb, flawed process that is, Tate thought. But he was glad it was available. He was no longer willing to let decorum interfere with his plans.

The prosecutions unfolded nicely. Some missteps a few years ago by Walker’s staff were uncovered, and some of those staff paid the price. Who doesn’t make mistakes, Burke thought, mostly oblivious to the reality of what was happening behind the scenes of the John Doe Show. She was told it was important, but really nothing she needed to know anything about. Tate and the team kept her in the dark, which Burke was okay with.

Walker’s supporters were raided, dragged before probes and depositions, forced to turn over sensitive documents and reveal private information unrelated to the investigation. Due to gag orders imposed by Tate’s allies on the bench, these groups and individuals were unable to defend themselves. They couldn’t speak to the media, and they sure couldn’t put out ads. Anecdotally, to Tate’s great satisfaction, it was heard that some conservative groups and top donors were starting to get skittish. Equally satisfying, money was flowing in and he’d secured the support of the top donors and groups on The Left, groups like those funded by George Soros and EMILY’s List.

At the very least, they knew one thing for certain about the tactic: it would shut down Walker’s donors and scare away a lot of conservative money. Conservatives are just that, they thought. And in the recall, there was plenty of activity to scrutinize. The legal aspect of the campaign could conclude one way or another after the political aspect of it, so long as plenty of headlines were generated and material created for their ads against Walker. They had set up a propaganda machine; knowing the media had been kept in the dark about their tactics, and that some were as strongly anti-Walker as any Dem flack behind closed doors, they had a blank check from the state’s prominent news outlets.

The battle was joined and the campaigns got rolling. The first of the polls showed their challenge of introducing an entirely new candidate to the state. But their money kept flowing, Walker’s money was successfully slowed down thanks to the efforts of Chisholm. And while their candidate’s favorables remained low, that never mattered. Their base of voters was kept whipped to stiff peaks by the constantly running propaganda machine. Their rank and file – whom they despised as a hoard of fickle whiners who were never satisfied with Burke – nonetheless hated Walker with a white hot rage more than ever before.

It was working. The polls tightened, and the rage stoked by the propaganda machine buoyed their voter turnout operation that would otherwise have flailed on the rocks of a miserably uninspiring synthesized candidate.

With less than a week before the election, Tate savored the thought of returning to power – and eagerly anticipated the unlimited access he would have to the painted ear of his own Frankenstein candidate.

To be continued…


George Will wrote a great analysis of the tactics of Wisconsin’s Democrats in opposing Scott Walker in The Washington Post. In it he describes the deplorable propaganda machine, the visage of the raids of conservative activists, and the symphonic coordination of every step of the process – allegations, investigations, depositions, raids, gag orders, and quiet exonerations. Will writes:

But Chisholm’s aim — to have a chilling effect on conservative speech — has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

Wisconsin Reporter also elaborates – albeit with anonymous sources – about allegations that Burke was in fact asked to leave Trek by her own family. In light of the odd circumstances around every job she’s left, and her protracted periods of unemployment, Reporter’s sources’ allegations are entirely plausible.

Burke is a phony, a synthesized candidate who is not only entirely unqualified to be governor, but whose campaign and allies are using some scary tactics as a crow bar to the door of the governorship.

The Left likes to compare Republicans to fascists like Hitler. But the tactics Will describes are, in fact, some of the same tools of intimidation, suppression, and character assassination utilized by totalitarian regimes throughout history.

There’s nothing new in politics about using past events to make specious allegations and mislead the public. But to set up a legal mechanism that creates those very events from which the allegations are made seems novel – it truly is the vertical integration of the misinformation supply chain. Who needs gulags in this day in age?

Utilizing the mechanisms of government, such as Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm’s office, to punish one’s political opponents is a slide back to the machine politics of the late 1800s, in which powerful party bosses pulled all the strings. Politicians owed their career to the bosses, and the bosses never left a favor uncashed. It was a client state where those who were owed favors lined up at the public trough expecting jobs, payouts, or favorable contracts and tax deals.

The party in power forced public employees to cut the party a check commensurate with their salary or risk losing their jobs. Political cash was cycled back through the system.

Today’s Democratic Party added a step to the process – the public employee’s union. Walker broke that cycle. The Democrats must restore it.

Wisconsin’s Democrat Party operatives lust for power, and they will quite literally do anything – including building an old fashioned political machine in Wisconsin – to have it back.

Update: Sputtering to a halt in a cloud of oily smoke, the Dems’ machine broke down on election day as Wisconsin voters, ever progressive in their own moralistic and inconsistent way, rejected the brand of politics that party peddled, along with their candidates up and down the ticket. Mary Burke, dejected from her loss, later stated she had no intention of returning to statewide politics.

I’ve been wrong about Mary Burke.

When she quietly launched her candidacy just over a year ago, the rare media attention she received focused on eliminating the recognition gap. The whole time her candidacy has just been odd — from trying to define the circumstances that impelled her candidacy to the ongoing choo-choo train of faux pas committed by her, her campaign, and its army of staff, consultants, and volunteers.

My first mistake was thinking she would pose no threat to Governor Walker. Admittedly, my interest in writing about her was to learn about her, though not from the deluded perspective of moderate fence-sitter ignorant to the realities of party politics. I wanted to understand why everything about her seemed so misaligned. At first, the confusion came from inherent philosophical contradictions between her business credentials and the anti-business tenets of Democrat policy:

  • While usually trumpeting the vuvuzela of “standing up for the little guy,” suddenly the Democrat favorite was a woman who worked in an international company her father started. It’s asinine to equate understanding the needs of a modern small business with being handed a job in daddy’s bike company.
  • Her philanthropic efforts are now legend, especially following the first debate. But what struck me as odd was how her generous contributions were often tied to future success. That’s obviously contradictory to the economic equality dogma of Democrats today. Although, come to think of it, much like Democrats, she was spending someone else’s money in all of her giving — so perhaps I’m off point.

Soon, two themes emerged that have carried through since. One, she wasn’t Scott Walker. Two, each and every one of her moves were based purely on politics and not on principle. That’s why her campaign failed to launch a cohesive and well-articulated agenda early on. Either that, or the copy-and-paste function in their versions of Microsoft Word was glitchy.

When she did launch her jobs plan, the first scandal was not that it was plagiarized liberal malarkey — it was that the word “union” never appears in the document, as I reported at the time. Democrats argue that union rights and collective bargaining are tentpoles of a stable economy. She could not make that an explicit part of her agenda because of the politics involved. Democrats ran against public sector union reform twice and lost both times. The issue is certainly divisive, and as a candidate running on the vague notion of unity for the state, inserting herself into that fray head-on would be counter to her carefully-crafted personal image. All this came alongside her comments that “of course” public sector union employees should have to contribute to their benefits packages.

Statements like those were the root of my ultimate confusion — by most business accounts she seemed pragmatic and conservative. It seemed bizarre for her to juggle the idea that she could have reaped the economic benefits of an amended labor agreement without causing the kerfuffle of legislators leaving the state or having sobbing unionistas bawl on the front lawn of the Capitol in Madison, declaring the death of democracy.

It became clear that she was a phony, running as an independent synthesizer of great ideas who can unite the state, who transcends the humdrum realities of politics-as-usual, while really being beholden to the establishment powers of the Democrat party who are desperate to topple the Walker juggernaut. What have never been clear are the circumstances under which she decided to run. Most of these folks only take a stab at a major office like this one if they think they have a fighting chance, especially one as polished and clean as hers was from the start in terms of the traditional branding elements (website, logo, list building, email collection, etc.).

Mary Burke was in it to win, with the right resources and encouragement. Her handlers created for her a polished veneer of business prowess and cometogetheritude, just enough to make her likable. And that’s the story they stuck with until the primaries.

MONDAY: Vinehout, Hulsey, and how Mary Ordinary became Mary Contrary.

In September, when Mary Burke refused to appear on stage with the president during Laborfest, I explained why:

But it also highlighted how politically-motivated everything is about Mary Burke’s campaign, which makes her businesslady/fixer/apolitical approach an even farcier farce. Not associating with the president in public has everything to do with politics. It takes little imagination to envision the color image that fades to black-and-white in a pro-Walker campaign ad, Burke on stage with President Obama, with ominous drums in the background and a Liberal Extremist stamp in big red letters that lands with a thud. That would be a slam dunk for her opponent, and Ms. Burke knows it.

With under three weeks to go, word on the street is the president will make it out for a campaign stop just before November 4, and I’m all-in on the prediction that there will be an ad that connects Ms. Burke with President Obama’s yahoo policies airing in the final days of the campaign, dramatic monochromatic effects and all. But it won’t have weeks and weeks to sink in, like it would had she appeared with Mr. Obama back in September. Such a decision was an important political calculation, just like every other step of her campaign, during which she has been carefully managed and handled, made to read the scripts and ideas written for her by others.

Today she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was raised a Catholic and has those values, but isn’t a kooky “ideologue” whose faith actually guides her life decisions. She later implies the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade has greater bearing on her decision-making about abortions than would her faith. But like all Democrats, her religion is her political affiliation, a point we’ve been carefully making for months about Mary Burke.

She and her campaign have told the story that she would be an apolitical unifier as governor whose only interest is what’s best for Wisconsin. But her agenda will be what’s best for the DPW. No answer in a debate, or interview, or profile, or incessant campaign e-mail would suggest otherwise. That’s why she ran an ad saying she’s all for Reagan-esque tax cuts (though that’s where her admiration of the man ends) then later countered with an ad lambasting the average $11-a-month savings the governor’s tax cuts have provided. She just says things without really meaning anything — and that, folks, is the essence of liberalism in America.

Ms. Burke is a product of liberal pandering, whose tenure as leader of the state would be marked by partisan edicts designed to undo the progress made by Scott Walker and a Republican legislature over the last four years. Wisconsin doesn’t need someone who exists above the political fray. We need a strong Republican leader who recognizes liberal policies for the destructive forces they are and squashes them.

The Cap Times e-board opines today,

Walker is not an original thinker; he’s an original recycler — of every bad idea that was ever put into circulation by a billionaire campaign donor or a special-interest group. That recycling has been the defining characteristic of his political career, and it has provided all the themes and sub-themes of his governorship.

Considering his track record, it is bizarre that Walker is griping about Democratic challenger Mary Burke’s economic plan. Specifically, the governor is attacking Burke based on reports that the Democrat released an economic plan that featured sections borrowed from Democratic gubernatorial candidates in other states.

Their evaluation is not completely incorrect: Gov. Walker has implemented a series of reforms that conservative leaders have insisted will work since well before the Goldwater revolution. What he hasn’t done is tout them as original, formulated while studying business at an Ivy League school.

That, again, is the problem with Mary Burke. I’m not so incredulous that a paid consultant re-used campaign boilerplate language. It’s sloppy, but not the end of the world. At issue here is the bogus narrative that Ms. Burke is a woman of the people who functions above the political fray with a message of unity and bi-partisanship to mend the partisan rifts that have widened over the last four years or so. She’s just not: everything about her candidacy is a political calculation, including the jobs plan she lied about writing based on her time in business school.

Collin Roth at Right Wisconsin offers a fairly enjoyable rundown of her foibles. (Today’s update: a story from Mother Jones that she keeps a notecard reminding her how a candidate should behave.) Every step of the way her campaign has folded in on itself.

Democrats’ tolerance of this phoniness mostly illustrates their seething hatred for the governor. Members of the party’s thinking class understand Burke will execute party mandates in office. The rest of the blubbering hoard just want to see Gov. Walker go. Either way, so far her biggest qualifications are not being a Republican and not being Scott Walker. There are questions she isn’t on the hook to answer from a political standpoint, but I’m curious about anyway.

1. Why is she running?

When she declared her candidacy, I wondered out loud if she really believed in her non-campaign campaign, or if she was beholden to greater powers in the Democrat Party. It’s obvious it’s the latter. Now I wonder why she’s running. She has failed to provide adequate context around the time she spent working in various capacities at Trek. Her family has been pretty mum, only stepping in reluctantly back in July when a Walker campaign ad connected Burke with Trek’s outsourcing practices. Perhaps she has something to prove to her family? Is she bored, already over her purchased spot on the Madison school board?

2. How is the campaign run?

I’m curious about the management of her campaign and the extent to which her handlers really have to script her appearances. That dreadful HBO dramatization of the 2009 book “Game Change” showed Sarah Palin’s handlers at constant odds with the candidate. I wonder why Maggie Brickerman and Joe Zepecki are part of this fight. Were they tapped by the same powers that are having Ms. Burke run? Or do they really believe in Mary Burke? And if they do, what do they see that I don’t?

It’s not just that I think her politics are stupid. That’s a conclusion I’ve managed after writing about her for nearly a year now. At first, I thought she had to hide conservative principles in order to succeed as a Democrat. Now I’m wondering whether she’s even bright enough to formulate a real political argument.

People like Kathleen Vinehout or Brett Hulsey have followers because they stand for things. And we’ve noted before that a Governor Vinehout wouldn’t be the worst option. Everything Burke stands for is contradictory.

Maybe someone will write a tell-all.

3. Is she willing to commit her administration to a degree of transparency to ebb the political influence of the Democrat Party of Wisconsin?

How much access will Mike Tate have to her office if she’s governor? It should be none if she’s an authentic non-political kinda moderate Democrat. I’m not begrudging the party head having influence with the politician; that’s the world we live in. The problem is that she’s pretending to be apolitical when she’s everything but.

If Democrats spent time thinking instead of just feeling, and if they stood for more than whatever Republicans don’t, someone like Ms. Burke wouldn’t stand a chance. But she does, and that’s the state of left-wing politics in Wisconsin.

New poll numbers show that Gov. Scott Walker is now ahead of Mary Burke 50-45 among likely voters, a sharp swing from earlier polls where Burke led among that group who claims to be more enthusiastic about showing up at the polls.

That’s great news for Walker, and anecdotal evidence shows that, like in 2012’s recall, Walker’s supporters are now downright on fire.

See this Facebook post by Mark Burke, a cheapshot against Walker’s pledge of 250,000 jobs in which it’s nearly impossible to find a pro-Burke comment.

Either the post was targeted to Walker supporters, which is probably the dumbest strategic decision her campaign could make given her problems with the progressive base, or a mistake.

Republicans can’t rest on their laurels yet – there’s still plenty of time for Burke to pull out an October surprise, but it looks like Mary Burke’s peak has come and gone.

Let’s get something straight: Mary Burke didn’t plagiarize portions of her jobs plan from other governors’ campaigns.

She signed off on a platform for creating jobs in Wisconsin that was drafted by a well-paid consultant, reviewed by her team, and put into print to appease liberal voters and just enough moderates to get elected. And that’s the problem.

This jobs plan is designed for political, not economic, gains. The Burke Campaign would have you believe she deserves your vote because she would bring an outsider’s business-oriented, solutions-based pragmatism to Madison to cure what ails it. So far, every move she’s made has been a careful political calculation, and the policies she supports would make liberals happy but certainly do nothing for the economy: a minimum wage exceeding market equilibrium and collective bargaining rights for public employees, or her sudden aversion to incentive-based programs which until now were the foundation of her philanthropic giving.

This has happened for two reasons: First, Democrats can’t be too open about what they believe on the campaign trail or they’d never get elected. Second: The Democrats in Wisconsin needed someone marginally electable who could tell those lies in the process. She is a hyper-partisan now, and she certainly will be if elected.

She’s cultivated an air of superiority that transcends politics-as-usual, a crime she and her campaign systematically accuse the governor of committing. She erroneously argues he puts politics and money ahead of the state’s wellbeing, but that’s obtuse.

The stories of Wisconsin’s successes in the light of Act 10’s passage are many — I’ll point to one anecdotal and personal example: A teacher friend last night told me he attributes a recent and significant pay raise to the governor’s policies. If Mary Burke can point to one man talking about a bad experience with a school district in Neenah as a reason to undo Act 10, I can leverage a similar argument in support of it. (Further, did anyone ask if the guy she was talking to was one of the bottom-feeders skating by and keeping his job because union rules wouldn’t allow the firing of a useless educator?)

Ms. Burke is a partisan hack, an acolyte of liberal politics, a puppet of Democrat policy, a useful pawn in the aggressive war to unseat the governor. She’s proving to be the opposite of everything she says she stands for, both in what she says and what she doesn’t.

She has patently ignored her time in Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration while campaigning. To that end, she completely forgets — quite literally — much of her past when asked, allowing me to fill the gaps with imagined sordid affairs on par with a Days of Our Lives script that aren’t useful but are entertaining. Like for her time snowboarding in South America (which, even after all I’ve written about her, I know to be a thing but don’t know much more than that): Mary snapped her boot into the binding as her husband, Manuelo, dodged a right-hook from Enrique, the mountain’s maintenance boy she recently helped free from a separatista labor camp in the jungle….

Mary Burke is a hairdo. A political hack and partisan. She’s not interested in reform or change or economic development or social progress for Wisconsin. Her job is to get elected to allow party bosses to use her to run the state.

One of our first stories about Mary Burke, almost a year ago, was called, “Mary Burke’s veneer thin enough to see through.” Not much has changed — and maybe now, finally, people in Wisconsin will recognize her true motives.


Q: Why did Mary Burke sign a petition to recall Governor Walker?
Ans: She is a liberal partisan who’s designed a campaign around making you believe she isn’t.

Mary Burke would like you to believe she isn’t interested in politics, just solutions to Wisconsin’s problems. As an example, consider her arrogant assertion that she’d have maintained collective bargaining rights but also would have required increased contributions from state employees under Act 10, as if even touching that benefit package would not have sent union thugs into a blubbering, seething, protest-singing, pants-wetting, collective rage, which they did in fact do to Scott Walker to no avail.

“Of course,” she’s said, public employees should contribute to their benefit packages. That’s good policy. So a signature to recall the governor is nothing more than the required work of a well-oiled Democrat Party Machine cog.

The underlying theme of her campaign has been to transcend political minutiae because, Burke for Wisconsin argues, that’s the problem with Scott Walker and his politics. The governor has even acknowledged that his recall victory could very well be attributed to voters disapproving of the recall itself even if they’re no fans of his politics and policy. Her message is to put principle above politics.

But to accuse the governor of playing politics at the expense of the state’s interests is absurd; Gov. Walker has beautifully executed a conservative political coup in a schizophrenically left-leaning state, creating an archetype for other leaders around the country, despite the political cost. Though he won the recall, there was still a recall election. Trudging through that bonus election in 2012, he greatly endangered his second term, exhausted the conservative grassroots, and taxed his campaign and personal coffers because he was doing what he knows to be right.

Then on Monday, the completely non-political Mary Burke caught flack for not appearing with the president in public during Laborfest. Brett Hulsey (who doesn’t hide what he thinks, convincing people he’s a lunatic, thus proving my theory that Democrats can’t tell the truth about what they really believe and gain widespread support) captured her running away from the fest grounds:

But it also highlighted how politically-motivated everything is about Mary Burke’s campaign, which makes her businesslady/fixer/apolitical approach an even farcier farce. Not associating with the president in public has everything to do with politics. It takes little imagination to envision the color image that fades to black-and-white in a pro-Walker campaign ad, Burke on stage with President Obama, with ominous drums in the background and a Liberal Extremist stamp in big red letters that lands with a thud. That would be a slam dunk for her opponent, and Ms. Burke knows it.

Further, the president remains political poison. Agreeing with him could scare away some thinking moderates. Anything negative about the president would further distance her from the Hulsey-led Kook Faction. It’s politically smart to keep President Obama away with a thirty foot pole. And that’s the problem for her.

When she says she’ll fix Wisconsin, she means she’ll toe the Democrat line. A Burke administration would be little more than a far-left junta managed by DPW Chairman Mike Tate. Someone only interested in solutions would never have have signed a petition to recall the governor, especially in the context of agreeing with the legislation’s outcome

Ms. Burke signed the recall petition because that’s what good little Democrats were supposed to do. That was the party line and aside from implicating her as a partisan hack it draws into question her capacity to lead. Signing her name was an act of complete and blatant non-solution-oriented union suckuppery, standard issue Democrat Party hackery to appease by unionistas.

Wisconsin Democrats have to lie about their liberal agendas to get elected. Herb Kohl was “Nobody’s Senator but your own” and Tammy Baldwin was a dewey-eyed little world-changer. Neither has a reputation for being anything but a pandering liberal nut and toe-the-line Democrat.

Mary Burke would never get elected if she told the whole truth. She’s a partisan Democrat who will live and die by the will of the unions, the same group responsible for nearly ruining the state’s finances.

She’s an apostle of big government, big regulation, big labor, big spending, big control, big taxing, big debt, and non-solutions to big problems.

Most of all big talk.