In Wisconsin recall, Democrat Barrett fails to excite

June 2, 2012
Brendan O’Brien
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – George Posker and Neal Muller, union workers at a small manufacturing plant near Madison, want to see Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker recalled from office in a special vote next week because of his assault on labor unions.

But sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck bearing a “Recall Walker” bumper sticker, both expressed doubts about Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the man seeking to drive Walker from office.

“I want him to win, but I’m convinced he’ll lose if he doesn’t step up his game,” Muller, 51, said. Neither Muller nor Posker voted for Barrett in the primary to select a Democratic challenger to Walker.

With just five days to the recall vote, Barrett is struggling to close the deal against Walker in a battle that has drawn national attention as a test case for key Republican and Democratic causes before the November presidential elections.

Democrats brought former President Bill Clinton to Milwaukee on Friday to give Barrett’s campaign a boost, one of several top politicians from both parties to stop in Wisconsin. Clinton praised Barrett’s leadership of the city, saying he had sought consensus rather than division.

“How did he do it? Shared sacrifice, shared responsibilities and not breaking the unions,” Clinton said.

People who know Barrett personally describe him as the quintessential Midwestern nice guy – pragmatic rather than ideological, not flashy or passionate.

Barrett the peacemaker won wide praise three years ago when he came to the aid of a woman being assaulted by a man outside the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, only to have her attacker turn on him with a tire iron. The mayor was seriously injured.

Despite Barrett’s reputation for basic decency, every public poll published since he was chosen as the Democratic candidate for governor on May 8 has shown Barrett trailing.

Barrett won the primary over four other Democratic candidates.

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