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Was Democratic push for Wisconsin recall a mistake?

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Jeffrey Phelps/AP

(Read caption) Former President Bill Clinton, right, and Democratic candidate for Governor Tom Barrett are welcomed by supporters at a recall election rally on Friday, June 1, in Milwaukee. Barrett lost to Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin's recall election on Tuesday, June 5.

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Was the Democratic push to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a mistake? That’s what the always-blunt Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts said yesterday.

“My side picked a fight they shouldn’t have picked,” Congressman Frank told The Hill on Wednesday.

Frank is retiring after 30+ years in Congress so doesn’t have to worry if he offends union leaders and other party powerbrokers. (Not that he ever did. Worry, that is.) But he’s not the only Democratic eminence grise to criticize the Badger State recall.

“It was a dumb political fight – I would have waited until Walker’s reelection,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told The Hill in a separate story.

Yes, Rendell’s out of office and also has a history of contradicting his party’s official line. Plus hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Walker’s convincing victory has those on the left side of the US political spectrum casting about for something or someone to blame.

But Frank and Rendell are echoing points made by pundits from across the political spectrum. The bottom line: some aspects of the reelection fight pointed toward a Democratic loss entirely foretold.

The first was the “recall” nature of the election. It was only the third time in US history a sitting governor faced such a vote. (If you didn’t know that already you didn’t watch any cable news coverage of this event.)

Turns out Wisconsin voters thought a sitting official shouldn’t be recalled except in a dire circumstance. Walker’s successful effort to strip most public unions of bargaining rights did not qualify as such.


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