The attempt by Wisconsin Democrats to recall Governor Scott Walker has begun and now let the speculation begin on which Democrats will enter the race. The name that has excited a core group of Democrat activists, namely the public sector unions, is Mahlon Mitchell the president of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin (PFFW) and a strong voice for public unions. Mahlon, only 33, worked as a firefighter for the city of Madison, Wisconsin for 13 years before being elected to the office of president for the PFFW. While firefighters were exempt from Walker's budget cuts to state worker's pensions and healthcare, the newly elected Mitchell very publicly joined the March protests at the capitol. He could be seen leading chants and delivering fiery speeches against the Governor's budget.
The list of politicians other than Mitchell is less than awe inspiring for Wisconsin Democrats. Some names that are being thrown around by local pundits, blogs and publications includes Russ Feingold, the former US Senator from Wisconsin who was defeated by Tea Party favorite Ron Johnson in the November 2010 general election. Jon Erpenbach, who was one of the infamous Wisconsin State Senators who fled to Illinois during the now legendary Wisconsin budget battle in March of this year. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett who would be facing Walker for the second time in as many years after his loss to Walker in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
While Mahlon Mitchell is a young fresh voice at the age of 33 years old and doesn't come to the table with the baggage that every other potential Democratic candidate does, conventional wisdom would say he is too inexperienced to take on Governor Walker in a State wide election. However, with the full backing of the DNC political machine and war chest could mean that lack of initial name recognition would not be an insurmountable barrier for Mitchell.
A small group of Wisconsin Democratic activists have begun a drive to draft Mitchell into the race with a website and a facebook page. (You can find both here)
While energizing the base is important in a recall effort because it is so labor intensive, particularly during the signature collection phase, ultimately to win a general recall election a candidate must have a broad base of statewide support. Walker has already proved that he can do well everywhere in the state of Wisconsin except for Madison. So picking a Madison-centric Democratic candidate like Mitchell is doubling down on a portion of the state that the Walker camp has basically already ceded to the Democrats.
The first task at hand for Wisconsin Democrats is collecting the 540,000 valid signatures in order to have Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board set a date for a recall election.
About the Author: Robert is an educator that lives in Southeastern Wisconsin. He has studied and taught political science for over 20 years.