Business rallies behind Wisconsin governor in recall election
A governor whose campaign has centered on tours of computer clean rooms, factory floors and other centers of enterprise, and whose unvarying message is that he has opened the state for business to thrive, is a huge hit with business leaders, billionaire entrepreneurs and free-enterprise organizations.
Walker’s battles with labor and his plight as a recall target have allowed him to tap into a rich vein of conservative power and money that stretches across the country, making him a top draw among business leaders looking for decisive leadership.
His opponents look at his six-figure campaign contributions from Las Vegas and Houston and call him the “rock star of the far right.” Perhaps, but he also is popular with leaders of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business organization, which is spending $3 million to help him survive.
“People recognize you’ve got to have bold and courageous people in politics to take on the status quo and say, ‘This isn’t working,’ ” said Kurt Bauer, president of the organization. “If we can’t do it in Wisconsin – if we recall Gov. Walker for doing something that was difficult but necessary – it’s a bad omen for the rest of the nation.”
Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, noted that Walker was elected in the 2010 Tea Party revolt, a powerful reaction against President Barack Obama’s stimulus legislation, health-care overhaul and federal deficits. After proposing, fighting for and winning passage of Act 10, a budget repair bill that greatly restricted the organizing rights of public employee unions – and facing demonstrations of up to 100,000 people – Walker became “a poster child for that new face of the Republican Party,” Burden said.
Like the labor unions on the opposite side of the political divide, business leaders, fiscal conservatives and Republican activists see the June 5 recall election as a watershed event. For them, it is a test of
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