MADISON (WKOW) -- New public opinion polling shows Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as the favorite if a primary election is held in the recall election of Governor Scott Walker.
But AFSCME Council 24 president Marty Beil dismissed Barrett's potential candidacy. "Tom Barrett's a non-starter."
Beil cited Barrett's adoption of elements of Walker's public union collective bargaining limits and worker give-backs in Barrett's agreements with city of Milwaukee workers.
Public Policy Polling found Barrett leads fellow potential candidates Kathleen Falk, David Obey and Tim Cullen in hypothetical primary match-ups. The poll surveyed 522 respondents Monday who said they were likely to vote in a Democratic primary.
Barrett mayoral campaign spokesperson Patrick Guarasci declined to respond to the poll findings or Beil's comments. In a statement, Barrett praised the recall effort and chided Walker for following a policy agenda never discussed in the gubernatorial campaign. "As a result of his deception, hundreds of thousands of everyday Wisconsinites from all walks of life are exercising their constitutional right to hold Scott Walker accountable." Barrett lost to Walker in the 2010 race.
Another potential candidate, state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) told 27 News he regrets it's come to a recall election for the state's highest position, but may still enter the race. Erpenbach predicted $100 million dollars may be spent by Walker, Democratic candidates and outside groups in the campaign. Representatives of the non-profit group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign have said the total campaign spending could top $80 million.
Walker and Cullen told 27 News a Democratic primary would be helpful to any candidate who emerged, and said it would dispel any notion a candidate would be selected by a small group of union leaders. Beil said he welcomed a primary if several candidates were committed to trying to defeat Walker.
Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch claimed to 27 News the influence of unions would manipulate candidate selection. "Regardless of who it is, their candidate is going to be picked by out-of-state union interests."
Kleefisch said she's prepared to defend the record of the Walker administration in a recall election.
More than one million signatures were submitted Tuesday in support of recall elections of both Walker and Kleefisch.