Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, wants you to know his Democratic opponent Mary Burke is a one-percenter and an outsourcer whose family company doesn't pay its fair share of taxes. That's the brave new world in the Badger State, where the GOP incumbent is taking a page out of the Obama campaign's strategy against Mitt Romney to attack his 2014 gubernatorial rival. The state Republican Party has invited voters to get to know "outsourcing millionaire Mary Burke" who is "a definitive 'one-percenter'" on a new website purporting to introduce Wisconsinites to Walker's relatively unknown challenger.
Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics suggests it's a sign of just how worried Walker is about losing this time around: "It smacks of desperation," writes Bevan. The fact is, some of those who voted for Walker in the 2012 recall election sparked by the anti-union legislation were doing so more out of protest against the recall process than out of love for Walker. Dig into the polls and it's not hard to detect some Walker fatigue -- even some voters feeling good about the direction Wisconsin is headed in say they will vote against him. But I'd suggest there's more to it than just the pressure Walker is feeling from Burke. Walker may be willing to risk accusations of apostasy for the reason I laid out in my recent cover story on him: because he enjoys such deep, abiding support from the airtight, monolithic Republican bubble in hyper-polarized Wisconsin, which may lead him to feel he has little to fear in taking a couple shots at Burke that are technically breaking with dogma. Already, Walker is getting back-up from the fiercely loyal conservative echo chamber in Wisconsin -- the Right Wisconsin website led by Milwaukee talk radio host Charlie Sykes took up Walker's side, arguing that it was hypocritical for Burke to have enjoyed the benefits of a tax status that many Democrats criticize, while completing overlooking the hypocrisy evident in Walker attacking a successful business for doing the things that successful businesses do: seeking out low-cost labor and money-saving tax structures. If a Republican can get away with class-baiting attacks on a wealthy businesswoman without fear of tut-tutting from his own local allies, what's to stop him?