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Wed Nov 27, 2013, 08:57 AM


Wisconsin: Mary Burke put on the spot [View all]

Last night Mary Burke spent an hour gripping and grinning with about 40 Fond du Lac area Democrats. I was able to ask two questions during the group session and one when I spoke to her one-on-one.

Paraphrasing ...

I tossed her a softball first: would she take the Medicaid money and get a Wisconson ACA exchange in place that actually helped our citizens gain access to healthcare. She is basically the opposite of Walker on this issue, and did not equivocate. She'd take the money, expand Medicaid eligibility. Grade: Pass, with honors.

Then a tougher one ... will she protect us from the mining interests that want to weaken our environmental protections and poison our water? I noted that it's been reported that she would support the mine with conditions. She equivocated, then again, so I asked "to be blunt, can you see any scenario where this mine is a good thing?" Answer: "No." Grade: Pass.

Mary also got an excellent question about support of voucher schools and gave a fair, if not great, answer: No expansion of voucher schools, more dough and other support for our public schools. No mention of accountability for voucher schools. Grade: Pass.

Mary was asked about support for collective bargaining, and responded in the positive. I couldn't hear if that question was phrased to specifically include bargaining for public employees, or rollback of Act 10, but have questions out to clarify.

Mary was also asked about jobs, and responded that it was a critical issue but she didn't yet have a plan, and would be formulating one over the next 10 months. No mention of infrastructure or any other job-stimulating investments. I'd like to hear a jobs plan before the primary, eh? Grade: Incomplete.

When I had a chance to speak to her privately, I asked if she would support legalization of marijuana for recreational use. She said "the State isn't ready for that". I pointed out that polling suggested otherwise but what I was asking was if she would support it. Answer: "No." Grade: Fail.

Finally, one other point. The knock on Mary's competition, Kathleen Vinehout, has been that she lacks the charisma/polish/dynamic personality needed to run a successful campaign. If that's true of Kathleen, it's true of Mary twice over. She appeared uncomfortable taking questions even from this very friendly group, and speaks in a quiet, hesitant manner. Notice I didn't same "calm and reasoned", but quiet and hesitant. She simply does not appear confident and could easily get waxed by Walker's cocksuredness in a debate.

Bottom line impression: Mary would be an upgrade over Wanker, but that's a very low bar. She does not appear to be the progressive leader that our state needs. Not even modestly so. When you negotiate with extremists, you don't start in the middle, and that's where she seems to be, if not leaning right.

Still, she came off better than I expected based on reports I've read.

She does have an endorsement from Planned Parenthood, and that is a good thing.

Would I vote for her against Walker? Yes, but would prefer that to be in the Republican primary, not as the Democratic candidate.

On a related topic, Ed Schults had John Nichols on his radio show and John believes Walker's backers will spend as much as $10,000,000 attacking Mary on just one issue: her sending Wisconsin jobs to China when she was CEO of Trek Bicycle. Audio here ...

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Reply Wisconsin: Mary Burke put on the spot [View all]
Scuba Nov 2013 OP
ewagner Nov 2013 #1
elfin Nov 2013 #2
Scuba Nov 2013 #3
Ed Suspicious Nov 2013 #4
Jackpine Radical Nov 2013 #5
riversedge Nov 2013 #6
HelenWheels Nov 2013 #7
dragonlady Nov 2013 #8