As Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz visits Wisconsin Wednesday in the hope of giving Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) an eleventh-hour boost, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that he feels good about Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) chances in next week’s recall election — and that a GOP victory could have national implications.
If Walker wins, “and we’re very confident he will, Obama is going to have a much tougher road ahead in Wisconsin this fall,” Priebus, who previously served as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, told reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning.
The call was the latest instance of Republicans talking up their chances in the June 5 race, which has become ground zero in the national battle over collective bargaining rights. High-profile surrogates on both sides have visited the state to stump on behalf of Walker and Barrett, and national groups have spent millions on the race.
Wisconsin has not voted Republican on the presidential level since 1984. Priebus maintained Wednesday that “if Wisconsin goes red, I think it’s lights out for Barack Obama.”
Why are Republicans feeling good about their chances? Priebus said that it’s due to “an electorate that earlier than normal is making up its mind.”
“We feel very good about where we’re sitting right now on absentee ballots,” he said, although he declined to go into specifics on the numbers.
Priebus also contended that according to the results of recent focus groups, there’s a “decent amount” of Democrats in the state that “think that this recall stuff is out of control.”
“In Wisconsin, we fight things out pretty hard, but to have a recall over a legislative disagreement — to many, even Democrats, it’s absurd,” he said.
In an interview last week, Wasserman Schultz dismissed the notion that there would be national repercussions if Barrett loses. Priebus took the opposite approach on Wednesday, arguing that “courage is on the ballot” and that a Walker win would make it “very clear that it’s time to stop spending more money than we have.”
“Scott Walker is being persecuted because he followed through on his promises, not because he didn’t fulfill his promises,” Priebus said.