By Miles Brown
Feb. 21, 2014
The National media was sent into a frenzy yesterday over the release of thousands of pages of emails between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his aides, which seem to indicate that they doing campaign work on government time. As bad as that seems, the bottom line is this story will come and go without too much of hoopla in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites have been well versed on the investigation for a couple of years and the release of these emails won’t change the outcome of the gubernatorial election.
The release is alarming and raises many questions about what Walker actually knew, and how this misconduct could have gone on for such a long time. From the outside, these charges seem very devastating to Walker. At the very least, his aides neglected their principal duties in order to support Walker’s political aspirations; at worst, he was complicit in this behavior.
While it was unclear what Walker knew and when he knew it, no criminal charges have been filed against him and the investigation officially closed last year. Plus, the Republican Governors Association preempted the release of the emails with a scathing attack ad on Democratic candidate Mary Burke. The dedication of the national party to his campaign makes it clear that they are interested in him staying put in Wisconsin instead of mounting an immediate national campaign. Walker intends to keep this seat and the GOP is starting to up its interest to ensure this happening.
And while it may not mean much for Wisconsin, the release of these emails brought the problem to a national light and signal the death knell to whatever national political goals Walker may have had. The actions described in the emails and the autocratic, petty tendencies he exhibited throughout his stints in both the Governor’s Mansion and as Milwaukee’s county executive are just not how candidates who succeed at national office conduct themselves. Walker’s brand of politics may suffice at the state level, but on a national level it’s not enough to win an election.
So after all of the national think pieces and speculation, we’re essentially back to square one in the state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Democrats will have mount an attack bigger than the press releases and stale comparisons to Chris Christie’s Bridgegate controversy they’ve been running with in order to gain traction in a state over these emails. But right now, Burke is staying completely silent as it relates to the emails — and that is not how a race like this is going to be won. The Wisconsin Democrats again need to realize this soon, or come November they’ll be wondering what went wrong for a third consecutive time.
Miles Brown is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’s majoring in political science and history with a certificate in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies. His political stance is best described as classic Progressivism in the vein of Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Croly. His post college plans are, as yet, undecided, but he’ll probably go into public policy research.