Monday, October 7, 2013

It's On: Burke Officially Announces Walker Challenge

In a generously long video, Mary Burke introduced herself to Wisconsin voters Monday morning. As anticipated, Burke is challenging Scott Walker for Governor next November.


The video is warm and picturesque - farms, barns and quaint small towns. All in all, a nicely produced piece designed to appeal to rural independents who feel under-represented in Madison and outside the Dem focus in Milwaukee and other urban cities.

A smart move. The votes Burke needs to win in a non-presidential election won't be found in cities like Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha  - whose turnout will drop compared to 2012 no matter how efficient a GOTV effort is launched.

In the most casual match-up, Burke has a background that should make the Walker campaign very, very nervous.

  • Walker dropped out of Marquette - Burke is a Harvard graduate   
  • Walker enterprises have resulted in arrests, federal probes and epic malfeasance - Burke has run a beloved billion dollar Wisconsin based corporation
  • Walker has money - Burke has more
Burke has her critics - every candidate does. However, when one gets away from the blogging-in-their-pajamas-know-it-all crowd - the attitude about Burke changes quite significantly.

Over the summer, several dozen focus groups were conducted with Democratic and Independent activists across the state. Each group was asked to come up with names of people who could beat Scott Walker with better than 51% of the vote.

Naturally, Russ Feingold topped all the lists. Great. But when pressed for people who were actually going to run - Feingold ain't - the list narrowed considerably.

Folks were asked to come up with names of likely candidates who were elected officials for one list, and people who were not politicians for the other.

Mary Burke and Judy Faulkner (CEO of Epic Systems) consistently ranked at the top of non-politician lists.

In the focus group the Siren's friends attended, expected political favorites like Kathleen Vinehout, Jon Erpenbach and Peter Barca were discussed - but there was clear interest in candidates who were successful entrepreneurs that didn't have political baggage which might dissuade swing voters.

It's important to remember they were asked who could WIN - not who they LIKED. A distinction worth mentioning as the rumble grumble commences. For every Herb Kohl there is a Chris Abele or Ron Johnson.

So, it's on. Mary Burke comes out cold as a formidable candidate against Walker. If she doesn't fuck it up, her power can only grow as people get to know her and her name recognition grows. Let the games begin!