At the end of a rough week for Democrats, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Friday wasn’t quite ready to let go of his party’s loss in the attempted recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Republicans’ 7-to-1 spending advantage made the contest something less than a fair fight, O’Malley said in his first extensive remarks on the outcome of the Badger State ballot. As chair of the Democratic Governors Association, O’Malley was among key Democratic fundraisers working to unseat Walker.
“Clearly the change in contribution rules that allow unlimited amounts of money to flow in from out of state can give one candidate such a tremendous advantage on the airwaves, it’s hard to overcome,” O’Malley said.
“It’s hard to imagine a worse ranking in job creation than 50 out of 50 states, but if you have enough money, you can put not only an alternative message out there, you can put out an alternative set of numbers, an alternative story, an alternative reality … trying to convince everyone that the reason that they are not doing better economically is because school teachers have pensions,” O’Malley said.
The effect of lopsided fundraising wasn’t the only lesson, O’Malley told reporters after appearing with economist Joseph Stiglitz at the Center for American Progress.
O’Malley said that while Walker’s win may have shown that Wisconsinites opposed the idea of a recall, that didn’t necessarily mean they agreed with Walker’s policy. In explaining his point, he brought up a lingering criminal probe into activities in Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County executive.
“In a nutshell, 60 percent of the people believe that … short of criminality, there should not be a recall,” O’Malley said of Walker’s win and exit polling data. “So far, only three of Scott Walker’s top people have been indicted … there has yet to be any charges leveled against him.”
O’Malley also said his party’s Wisconsin loss certainly didn’t portend a big November for Republicans.
“What it means for the future? I don’t know,” O’Malley said, seeking to equate Democrats’ loss in Wisconsin with the party’s win last year in Ohio referendum on bargaining rights.
“When we won in Ohio, and pushed back and won the referendum that kept Gov. [John] Kasich from doing away with the rights of workers to organizers in Ohio, very few people stood up on their soapboxes and predicted the end of the Republican Party,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley also sought to play up the mostly symbolic victory of a Democrat that could tip the balance in Wisconsin’s state senate.
“Although votes may still be being counted, I do believe we won back the senate,” O’Malley said. Wisconsin’s legislature is out of session until November, when nearly half its senators will be up for re-election
“That puts some breaks on the extremist playbook of rolling back women’s rights, rolling back voting rights and rolling back workers’ rights.” O’Malley said.