Walker leads on Recall day

The Wis. governor has a healthy edge in polling; when Romney loved mandates; and Tuesday's top political stories

Published June 5, 2012 12:12PM (EDT)

- E-Day in Wisconsin: New York Times politico-quant Nate Silver offers final handicapping: “Two polls released over the weekend suggest that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican, remains the clear favorite to win Tuesday’s recall election. Although the contest is fairly close, polls of gubernatorial races are ordinarily quite reliable in the late stages of a race. We have not officially released a forecast for the race, but Mr. Walker’s lead of about six points would translate into almost a 95 percent chance of victory if we used the same formula we did to evaluate gubernatorial races in 2010, which derives its estimates from the historical accuracy of gubernatorial polls over the past 15 years.”

- Number of the day: 10-1 -- that’s the ratio of Walker’s spending versus Democrat Tom Barrett’s, the mayor of Milwaukee. Walker spent $29.3 million, Barrett spent $2.9 million. When outside groups are factored in, it gets a bit more equitable, but not much. Pro-Walker forces spent $45.6 million, while team Barrett spent just $17.9 million.

- Obama tweet last night:“It's Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I'm standing by Tom Barrett. He'd make an outstanding governor. -bo”

But despite being as close as Minneapolis on Friday, Obama did not personally campaign for Barrett. Expect more labor-Dem finger pointing if Walker wins.

- Who votes; who wins: While speculating about turnout is beyond cliche by now, it remains important: The people who came to the polls in 2010, when Walker was first elected against Barrett, were far more conservative and far less Democratic than in previous cycles, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert notes. Do “the big recall question” is whether today’s electorate look will look more like 2010 or other years.

- Top Walker aide turns state’s evidence?: Even if Walker wins today, there’s a chance he’ll be rewarded with an indictment. The latest twist in the escalating “John Doe” investigation into Walker’s staff came in a Milwaukee courtroom yesterday when the lawyer for one of Walker’s closest confidants, who is on trial for embezzling charity money, said his client gave a reporter a damning piece of evidence against Walker.

The aide, Tim Russell, has been with Walker since the very beginning of the governor’s political life, but his lawyer told a judge that his client approved leaking a memo to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter. The bombshell memo shows Walker was not cooperating with investigators, calling into question Walker’s side of the story on the investigation.

What this means is that Walker’s top aide may have turned on the governor and may now be working with investigators. We don’t know how much Russell is cooperating, as the judge met with him behind closed doors, but as Esquire’s Charlie Pierce, who was in the courtroom, explains:

What Russell knows is presumed to be considerable and more than a few people around the case believe that, if Russell should flip on his boss, that would pretty much be the ballgame … There is nothing that Scott Walker has done that Tim Russell doesn't know about.

Russell’s trial will be delayed until September.

- When Romney loved the individual mandate: Emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal’s Mark Maremont from Mitt Romney’s time as governor of Massachusetts show Romney and his aides personally advocated and defended the individual health care mandate as part of the sweeping health reform law Romney installed in 2006. The Democratic alternative plan did not include a mandate, but Romney’s revised plan did.

"An uninsured libertarian might counter that he could refuse the free care, but under law, that is impossible — and inhumane,” Romney wrote in a draft op-ed whose language was later changed.

Of course, we should have more emails from Romney’s tenure, but he and his staff made a concerted effort to delete them and eradicate other digital data. Why? Because he was afraid the “opposition research team, or to the public” would find something embarrassing, he said last November.

- A tale two mills bought by Bain: One failed, one succeeded, though both are in the same industry -- the Boston Globe’s Brian MacQuarrie and Bobby Caina Calvan explore why. “In one case, Bain tried to prop up a traditional steel maker that was struggling. In the other, it bet on innovative technology and was able to declare a bigger and more lucrative victory,” they write.

Both have been highlighted in this year’s presidential campaign, by opposing teams: The Obama camp has highlighted GSI industries, which Bain invested in $24 million before it went bankrupt, while the Romney camp has highlighted Steel Dynamics, which succeeded after an $18 million investment from Bain.

Nonetheless, Bain profited in both cases, making between $8 and $12 million on the doomed plant.

- Mitt’s Solyndra: Bloomberg Businessweek’s Jim Snyder:  “Mitt Romney, who criticized President Barack Obama last week for backing failed Solyndra LLC, supported as governor of Massachusetts a different solar-power company that has gone out of business. Konarka Technologies Inc. filed to liquidate on June 1 after getting state and U.S. aid, a development that may muddy his attempts to use Solyndra to try to show Obama’s broader economic failures.”

- Bill Clinton, back on track: After getting a bit off message last week, the former president laid into Romney at a fundraiser last night. Romney’s policies would be "calamitous for our country and the world."

- In case you didn’t already think “stand your ground” was terrible: The Tampa Bay Times does a deep dive into the ALEC-backed law that (initially) let Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman walk. It’s even worse than you thought.

The law is “being invoked with unexpected frequency, in ways no one imagined, to free killers and violent attackers whose self-defense claims seem questionable at best.” Nearly 70 percent of people who invoke the law have gone free, though you’re more likely to prevail if your victim is black. There are incidents of victims turning away from the shooter, lying on the ground, or being shot in the back; drug dealers and gang members escaping murder charges, and people using the law to settle long-standing disputes and get away scott free.

By Alex Seitz-Wald

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Wisconsin Recall