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Posted at 09:11 AM ET, 05/09/2012

The Morning Plum: Dems pick Scott Walker’s opponent

Yesterday, Wisconsin Democrats chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as their choice to take on Scott Walker in the recall battle. If you read through the statements put out by labor unions about Barrett’s victory and the upcoming fight to oust Walker, a few things immediately become clear.

This fight is no longer about collective bargaining — the issue that sparked this whole fight to begin with. It will be about Wisconsin’s worst-in-the-nation job growth, and the failure of Walker’s larger ideological approach to produce the jobs he promised. Perhaps even more crucially, it will be about the general exhaustion of Wisconsinites over all the fighting Walker’s agenda has unleashed.

As the labor-backed We Are Wisconsin put it: “Tom Barrett is a strong leader who will end the political turmoil Scott Walker has brought to this state and reunite Wisconsin to get us moving forward again.”

Dems hope that the fact that Barrett wasn’t even labor’s choice in the primary will enable them to make this case more effectively. The narrative will be all about restoring balance after Walker’s experiment in extremism — which won plaudits from the national right — sparked months of political chaos in the state. Opinionmakers will widely note that this recall fight is a key battle in the national war over labor’s future; look for Democrats to downplay this storyline.

Walker has raised enormous sums for the race, and he will almost certainly outspend opponents. But the question is whether more ad spending can even persuade large numbers of voters in such a polarized state. Months of massive ad expenditures have not moved Walker’s numbers, raising the possibility that this battle will be won on the ground — the one area where labor and Dems can match Walker’s organization.

* It’s all about Romney’s character: Dana Milbank delivers an absolutely brutal dissection of Romney’s unwillingness to take on the right, tallying up all the examples of his silence in the face of extreme voices in his own party.

I’d only add this: Romney isn’t always afraid of confrontation. Remember when he took on an Occupy Wall Street protestor, and told him in effect to go back to Russia? If memory serves, Romney’s campaign boasted about how tough this moment made him look.

* Romney exploring new frontiers of dishonesty: Few are willing to come right out and say this, but Romney’s auto-bailout dishonesty prompts David Firestone to go there: Romney’s nonstop falsehoods and dissembling are incalculably more serious than anything coming from Obama and Dems, and he is paying no real price in the media for it.

* Romney's idea of “normal”: Glenn Kessler evalutates Romney’s new claim that the economy should be adding 500,000 jobs a month, and discovers that this has happened only nine times during Romney’s entire 65-year lifetime, which is to say, 14 times in the last 784 months.

My handy Plum Line calculator tells me that this means it has happened only one time out of every 87 months.

* Another Romney talking point goes “poof”: Ben Adler skewers another one: Romney’s claim that under Obama, average college costs have gone up by 25 percent, which is key to his young voter outreach.

Romney says it would be in younger voters’ best interests to elect him, but as Adler notes, he simply hasn’t bothered to offer any real plan of his own to address the high tuition rates he cites as evidence of the pain the Obama economy has inflicted on the young.

* The Lugar quote that will loom over Indiana Senate race: Longtime Senator Richard Lugar lost to Tea Partyer Richard Mourdock yesterday, and Dems are circulating this quote from Lugar about Mourdock in hopes that it will define the coming general election and give them a pickup opportunity:

He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

The GOP is still narrowly favored in the general election, but that quote neatly captures the larger meaning of Mourdock’s victory.

* Floor fight over gay marriage at Dem convention? Matt Taylor games out what it will look like if there’s a floor fight at the Dem convention over a marriage-equality plank in the party platform, something that may be more likely after North Carolina’s defeat yesterday of anti-gay Amendment One.

As I’ve been saying, Obama’s equivocating over gay marriage can’t make this issue disappear; it’s coming to a head no matter what.

* How gay marriage foes celebrated Amendment One’s victory: Lovely: “There was a cash bar, and music that included love songs. The centerpiece was a seven-tier white wedding cake, capped by a plastic heterosexual couple embracing.”

* Wake up, Democrats: I agree with James Carville: Any Democrat who thinks this election is in the bag just isn’t paying close enough attention.

* And the takedown of the day: Nick Baumann does a nice job skewering Scott Brown and the fake controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage.

New Massachusetts Senate race hashtag: #AnythingButTheIssues

What else?

By  |  09:11 AM ET, 05/09/2012

 
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