Wisconsin is just 12 days from a pivotal referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a recall election that could have broad national consequences for the November general election and beyond. Walker has led in every major poll since February, and is, at this stage, expected to defeat the recall challenge by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. In the home stretch, both sides are relying on outside sources of money and influence to help secure the win.
Barrett appeared on The Ed Show tonight to discuss the challenges he faces, as well as a campaign-financed internal poll that has him within two points of Walker. In the state that host Ed Schultz has called "a microcosm of what's happening across the country," Republican interests are currently outspending Barrett and his allies 25 to 1.
Later, Rachel Maddow suggested on her MSNBC show that Walker's intention is not merely to enact conservative policies, but to flip the once union-heavy state to a reliable red state for national elections for years to come.
Walker erased 50 years of union rights with the stroke of a pen, Maddow said, and is now looking to turn his executive success into long-term political advantage. "You get rid of union rights, you get rid unions, you get rid of Democrats," Maddow said. "Pull that off and Democrats will never recover...Wisconsin will be red for generations to come."
Politico reports that the Republican Governors Association has already spent $3.6 million on advertising for Walker in the state. Meanwhile, nationally prominent governors including South Carolina's Nikki Haley and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal are actively campaigning for Walker.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is also piling on, playing a new ad in the state decrying Barrett as an enemy of second amendment rights. Barrett has rejected the NRA's claims as intentional lies.
"It's a lie," he said. "I know that hunting is an important part of the economy, of the culture, of the history of this state. If you are a hunter in this state, you have nothing to worry about with me."
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is fundraising directly for the Wisconsin recall. It has already directed $1.4 million toward Barrett, and on Wednesday, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz sent a fundraising email to a reported "millions" of people. The DNC has also promised a historic "get out of the vote" effort.
On Thursday, the Democratic Governors Association threw a fresh $1 million of support to Barrett, bringing the total from the group to $3 million for the recall. But with such a serious fundraising gap, Barrett and the Democrats are going to need a tidal change to win on June 5.
There will be a televised Wisconsin Public Television debate tomorrow night, May 25th.