MADISON – For the third time this week, a potential challenger to GOP Gov. Scott Walker has ruled out a 2018 run against him.
This time it’s Madison tech executive Mark Bakken, who had been getting attention from Democrats because of his success founding an IT consulting company and because he could have brought formidable financial resources into a race.
In phone calls to close associates Friday, Bakken ruled out a run and said he would focus instead on his business ventures, according to sources who spoke directly with Bakken. The decision increases the chances that trial attorney and state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) could announce a run against Walker, since Wachs is a friend of Bakken’s and would have been unlikely to run against the executive.
What’s interesting is that, on paper, Walker is extremely vulnerable next year. His approval rating is below 50%. Historic trends says that next year should be a big Democratic year. If the Wisconsin Democrats can field a decent candidate, he or she should stand a pretty good chance. And yet, nobody of any prominence is stepping forward for the Democrats. In fact, many of them are pulling their names off of the list early.
I suspect hat two things are at play. First, the Wisconsin Democratic Party is devoid of any top tier talent. The last six years have decimated their bench. Second, Walker isn’t as vulnerable as he appears. He has never polled very high, but his strength lies in his ability to turn out nearly universal and massive turnout of the Republican base. While many conservatives in the base were frustrated with him when he ran for president and went wobbly, he appears to have returned to the fold. The Democrats know this too and no prominent Democrats wants to be the next Burke or Barrett and have their political careers run aground on the shoals of Isla Walker.
The Democrats have to run someone… theoretically. Who will it be?