For Democratic Party activists and those opposed to Governor Scott Walker’s agenda over the previous 17 months, Tuesday marks another milestone towards recalling the beleaguered governor.
That’s because for the first time voters will be able to weigh in and cast their votes for whom they want to see in the general election next month.
Primaries will be held for both parties on Tuesday, as Governor Walker is facing a primary challenge from activist turned politician Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a 23-year-old food service worker who has been an ever-present figure at the capitol since Walker introduced his controversial Budget Repair Bill.
Walker says he doesn’t view Kohl-Riggs as his opponent, saying his opponents “are the out-of-state union bosses in Washington.”
Kohl-Riggs says he doesn’t consider himself a fake candidate, comparable to those running in the Democratic Party primaries, but rather as a Republican in the mold of Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, a prominent progressive leader in Wisconsin’s history.
Democrats will have their choice of four candidates on Tuesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Secretary of State Doug La Follette, and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout.
Barrett, who lost the race for Governor to Walker in 2010, is considered the frontrunner by most polling done in the race, and has received numerous endorsements from elected officials like Senator Herb Kohl and former Congressman Dave Obey.
Falk unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2002, and lost to current Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in 2006, has received the lion’s share of support from statewide unions.
La Follette, whose grandfather was brothers with Bob La Follette, has been serving as the Secretary of State since 1983 and helped organize the first Earth Day in Wisconsin.
Vinehout, a former dairy farmer and health administration professor, has served in the State Senate since 2007, where she developed an alternative budget last year in response to Walker’s that saw huge cuts to education.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, with all the normal rules and regulations for elections in place.
The voter ID law that was signed into law last summer is still working its way through the court system, and as such, will not be in place for either the recall primary or the general election in June.
Campaign finance reports released on Monday show that Walker raised $13 million over the previous three months, bringing his total to $25 million for the year. This shatters the Wisconsin record for fundraising in a statewide race, set by Walker himself in 2010 when he raised $11 million total.
Falk raised $1 million over the same three-month period, while Barrett raised $830,000. Kohl-Riggs, Walker’s primary challenger, raised a little over $2,000.
Logan T. Carlson