KENOSHA, Wisc. — “This is not about the word ‘I,’ Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told a United Auto Workers hall in Kenosha Monday night. It was his final rally before Tuesday’s recall election against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). “This is about the word ‘we.’”
A few hours later, Walker told a crowd at Milwaukee’s American Serb Hall the same thing — that it’s not about him.
But on both sides, it is about Walker. And that’s part of why Republicans are feeling a little more confident heading into today’s vote.
“They don’t even have a candidate,” said Dan Gonzalez, a Walker support from Mequon. “They put all this effort into recalling the governor, they forgot to get a good candidate. Wouldn’t that have been an important thing to do?”
Walker’s rally felt more like a victory party. Loud pop music pumped through the speakers; people drank cocktails and beer. Tea Party Express brought a bus.
“We’re a force to be reckoned with this time,” said Debbie Tanner, a Milwaukee Walker supporter. “We’re not taking any more crap. We’re going to win.”
In her introduction, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is also up for recall today, called Walker “the tip of the spear.” Former senator Russ Feingold, by contrast, introduced Barrett by calling him someone who “knows how to bring people together.”
Barrett supporters were enthusiastic — the candidate got multiple standing ovations. But when asked about the race they talked about Walker and his policies or about the history of union activism — not Barrett.
“All I can say is that there has been more grassroots union participation getting out the vote than I have ever seen in my 35 years at the UAW,” said John Drew, a regional representative for the auto workers’ union.
“My Dad marched in the strikes in the 70s,” said Marry Modder of the Kenosha Education Association. “Last February, I looked at all of that disappearing.”
The latest poll, from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, shows Walker three points ahead, and voters on both sides expressed nervousness. But Barrett’s supporters were the ones who seemed truly worried.