Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Mary Burke Noise

Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel stirred the pot again yesterday with a column about Mary Burke, the current Madison School Board member and former Commerce Department Secretary, who may make a run for Governor. 
Last week found Burke, a member of the Madison School Board, sitting down with two Racine lawmakers and the Racine mayor about the 2014 contest.  
Setting up the meetings and acting as her political adviser was Jacob Hajdupolitical director of the state Democratic Party.  Last month, state Republicans filed a complaint over a poll testing the political viability of Burke, a former state commerce secretary and former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive.State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate acknowledged the party was lending Burke a helping hand. 
"If the state party is asked by someone seriously considering running for office, we are happy to make some calls and introductions to help them connect with key leaders in their district or -- in this case -- the state," Tate said. 
"It's a service we provide to any serious candidate that asks and something we have done dozens of times."
That proved to be fodder for the WIGOP, claiming that she's somehow getting "significant help:
[Madison, Wis.] – There is more evidence mounting that Madison millionaire Mary Burke is the handpicked candidate to run against Governor Scott Walker in 2014. Democratic Party officials are activity working behind closed doors to help Burke and clear the field to avoid a primary. 
Please see the link here on the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Democrats quietly help Mary Burke explore possible gubernatorial bid,” highlighting the out-of-touch liberal getting significant help from Party officials.
To somehow think that Ms. Burke is the handpicked candidate of the Democrats is laughable. It's even something that Mr. Bice tries to play up later in his article when he notes that Ms. Bruke met with Democratic Party officials from the Racine area:
On July 17, Burke and Hajdu held court at Wilson's Coffee & Tea, meeting face to face with state Rep.Cory Mason (D-Racine), John Lehman (D-Racine) and Mayor John Dickert to discuss next year's governor's race. While at the coffee shop, Lehman introduced Burke to a local alderman and young GOP operative.
The operative, Sam Wahlen -- a 20-year-old Marquette University student and Racine County Republican Party board member -- said Burke was described as "running for governor," with no qualifications. 
"I was very surprised because I didn't hear she announced," Wahlen said in an interview this week. 
Burke and Lehman disputed the student's account. Burke emphasized that she has yet to make a decision.  
Even so, Lehman said it's clear that the Madison pol is seriously considering a statewide run. 
"She's not coming to Racine and meeting with me and the others if she's not very interested," Lehman said. 
So, I don't really know what to make of the whole GOP operative narrative, but the fact that she is meeting with important Democratic voices in the Racine area means absolutely nothing to me. So she's testing the waters, big whoop. She's a school board member, so it's not like she's exactly constantly in constant touch with top level Democrats around the state. She's testing the waters... seems like what any candidate would do.

I'm not sure what I make of her. I know several Madison area teachers who are less than thrilled with her tactics of essentially buying her seat on the school board, but that's small potatoes compared to something like running for Governor. I know it might seem like she is a long shot, especially because she really doesn't have that much political experience, but that didn't stop Ron Johnson in 2010. I'm hoping that if she really is the Dem's candidate that they put her out there in full force, or get some other names out there in the mix just to keep the Republicans guessing.

Either way, Governor Walker is still out there fundraising like hell.

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