Declaring Tuesday’s recall battle for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “the fight of the summer,” conservative columnist and elections expert John Fund tells Newsmax.TV that President Obama has been largely A.W.O.L. in the eyes of Badger State voters.
“Well they think he’s a wuss frankly. They say, ‘look the job of a leader is to motivate followers and not always to look at political calculation,” said Fund in an exclusive interview on Monday. “And here he is. I mean this is the fight of the summer — for the left, for the unions — and Obama’s AWOL.”
Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall vote. The effort to remove him from office began last year after the state divided over the governor's push to effectively end collective bargaining for most public workers in an attempt to control the state budget.
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If the governor successfully turns back the recall challenge 17 months after he was sworn into office with a promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of 2014, Walker will win the right to retain his seat until 2014. But if he loses, he must quickly surrender the governor’s mansion to his Democratic challenger — Mayor Tom Barrett of Wisconsin.
Fund, the author of the forthcoming “Who’s Counting, How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk,”
a new book that will be released next month, said that Walker’s national standing has benefitted from all of the publicity surrounding the recall.
“He’s already a conservative rock star because he had the courage to tackle these big tough issues. I think it puts him on the radar screen,” insists Fund, who says that re-election will be much easier for Walker once the recall is behind him.
“I think he’s a future possible vice presidential nominee years down the road — maybe even running for president,” Fund declared.
Citing a 94 percent chance that Walker will win the recall vote as calculated by online prediction website, Intrade, Fund attributes the governor’s advantage — including a 6.7 percent edge in the Real Clear Politics average as of Monday evening — to his candidness.
“I think what he’s done right is simply told voters ‘this is what I did. This is how I did it. And these are the results.” And property taxes have gone down for the first time in 15 years in Wisconsin,” according to Fund, who said that Walker hasn’t raised taxes overall.
“He wiped out a $3.6 billion deficit,” Fund explained. “The state is now in surplus and he did this without massive layoffs of civil servants. Teachers have not been laid off. Class sizes are the same and he’s done this by putting in efficiencies in state government that frankly other states would be wise to emulate.”
And since 55 percent of Wisconsin voters support the changes that Walker has introduced, Barrett has effectively been disarmed from turning them into a negative with voters, said Fund.
“They recognize that school districts have a lot more flexibility now. They can save money,” Fund said, noting that many school districts in Wisconsin could only get health insurance for their employees by going through a monopoly healthcare provider that was owned by the Wisconsin teacher’s union.
“That’s all gone with,” he explained. “The savings have been passed on. And people can now see that money in the classroom rather than in the headquarters of the teacher’s union.”
The Wisconsin recall election is likely to have national repercussions on the presidential contest — which may explain Obama’s reluctance to actively campaign for Barrett.
“The president originally was very involved in Wisconsin. He attacked Walker’s reforms. He said it was union busting,” recalled Fund. “He’s gone completely silent. Last week he was in Iowa, which is next door to Wisconsin. He was in Minnesota, which is next door to Wisconsin. He was in Illinois which is next door to Wisconsin, but he couldn’t find the time to go 15 miles up the road to campaign for Tom Barrett whom he campaigned for in 2010.”
Fund insists that the president is attempting to distance himself from Tuesday’s likely outcome in favor of the Republican.
“That tells me the president thinks Barrett is a likely loser. And he doesn’t want to be associated with him because the backlash could hurt him in getting Wisconsin’s electoral votes in the fall,” according to Fund.
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Former President Bill Clinton was the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats who have campaigned on Barrett's behalf in recent days, saying the Republican has governed without compromise or honest negotiation.
Clinton rallied voters Friday in Milwaukee, a Democratic stronghold and Barrett’s backyard.
At a time when Americans are often criticized for their lack of participation in the electoral process, Fund noted an “enormous level of participation” by Wisconsin voters.
“Well this has consumed Wisconsin and the country. Interest is way high, something like half the people have attended a rally or participated in a political event,” he said. “Something like two-thirds have talked over this race with their friends or their family.”
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