Scott Walker campaigned like Michael Bloomberg, a labor leader says

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Scott Walker. (Megan McCormick via Flickr)
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Scott Walker had to campaign like Michael Bloomberg in order to win yesterday's high-profile recall election in Wisconsin, said a New York-based labor leader, who called it "obscene."

"If you were in Wisconsin, the only message you'd hear is from Scott Walker," said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union, who estimated Walker's financial advantage over his opponents at 25-to-1 or 30-to-1. "With that kind of money, you're able to tell people night is day, and it's hard to compete with that, as we saw in the mayoral election."

(Walker raised more than $30 million for the race, most of it from out of state. His Democratic opponent, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, was the beneficiary of several million dollars in spending by unions.)

Bloomberg "had to spend $109 million to get re-elected," said Appelbaum. "He had to go through overwhelming resources, obscene amounts of money against his opponents in order to get re-elected."

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Just like Walker, he said.

"You have to look at the amount that was spent on each side and compare it to the number of votes received," said Applebaum. "Even though we may have lost the governor's race in Wisconsin, it was the result of extraordinary, Bloomberg-like expenditures and that is not something that is going to be able to be replicated throughout the country."

Appelbaum, an outspoken advocate of labor and progressive causes, said, "I'd much prefer to have an energized public than I would to have to count on 30-to-1 expenditures."

I asked if Walker's election suggested that progressives needed to focus more on raising money to close the financial gap against their opponents.

"Nah, I don't see it that way," he said. "For me, what's it about is members of the progressive community need to start activating people the way that it happened in Wisconsin."

He called what happened in Wisconsin "really a model of how to get people involved. We need to start doing that now."

"Obama is not going to be outspent 25-to-1 or 30-to-1," said Appelbaum.