If Democrats remain unified, they are well-positioned for the four-week fight preceding the June 5 general election -- which will also see Democratic challenge Republican incumbents for the post of Lieutenant Governor and for four state Senate seats.
Walker had pulled out all the stops seeking to run up his Republican primary total, spending heavily on television and direct mail, making dozens of official and campaign stops across the state in the days prior to the primary, and devoting hours of his time Tuesday to get-out-the-vote appearances on right-wing talk radio programs in Milwaukee, Madison and across the state. The hope was that he could gain a higher vote total than the Democrats -- and with it bragging rights going into an intense general election campaign with Barrett.
Walker got a lot of Republicans to the poils, winning 626,538 votes -- almost twice what he received in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. He easily beat his GOP challenger this year, young activist Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who ran as a "Real Republican," arguing that Walker had broken faith with the true values of the party of Abraham Lincoln and the progressive reformers of a century ago.
But Walker's 626,538 was far behind the 665,436 received by Barrett, Falk, Vinehout and La Follette.
Presuming that most of the 19,920 votes cast for Kohl-Riggs will go to Barrett in the general election (while the 4,842 votes cast for a Walker-allied "fake Democrat" in the Democratic primary will go to the governor), that means that the anti-Walker vote was 55,000 votes ahead of the pro-Walker total.
Everyone agrees that turnout will be dramatically higher for the June 5 general election. And no one is predicting that Barrett will have an easy time of it running against Walker, who has raised more than $25 million, mostly from out-of-state conservative donors, and who enjoys the enthusiastic backing of right-wing blllionaires such as Charles and David Koch.
But Barrett, charged into the race, declaring Tuesday night that: "This is a historic election. We all know it's a historic election."
"Do we want a governor who has divided this state like it has never been divided before?" the newly-nominated Democrat asked. "Do we want a governor who has caused this state to lose more jobs than any other state in this country?"
"No" the crowd roared.
Referencing the John Doe investigation of criminal activities in Milwaukee County while Walker served as the county executive, and of scandals related to his 2010 campaign, Barrett asked: "Do we want a governor who has to have a legal defense fund?"
No, the crowd shouted event more loudly.
Noting Walker's fund-raising advantage, Barrett said thegre was no question that the governor would "flood this state with out of state special interest money." But, referencing the mass movement that developed with protests at the Capitol against Walker's policies but evolved into a political force capable of gathering close to a million signatures and forcing the recall election, Barrett said Walker's money power could and would be countered "by the people with Wisconsin values."
Published on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 by The Nation