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Oct 1, 201301:03 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Burke in stock: Is Mary Burke liberal enough for state Democrats?

(page 1 of 2)

From the pages of In Business magazine.

I met Mike Konopacki 30 years ago on Labor Day on the grounds of the South Central Federation of Labor. For a buck, celebrants could take a sledgehammer to a Toyota, which was then winning U.S. market share. The concept of actually competing with Japan to build better, more fuel-efficient cars did not occur to the unionistas on the labor temple grounds — only the supposed unfairness of losing in a competitive marketplace. It’s something they have in common with today’s Capitol Solidarity Singers, who lament the unfairness of thrice losing to Scott Walker’s Republicans.

As an editorial cartoonist, Mike uses his pen as a sledgehammer. Some rich capitalist — always represented by a paunchy, middle-aged white guy — is sticking it to the proletariat. A recent cartoon featured a Daddy Warbucks type saying he’d like to wish a happy Labor Day to his employees — but he doesn’t speak Chinese! The irony is that the Great White Hope of Wisconsin’s Labour Party doesn’t speak Chinese, either. 

We are talking about the Democrat(ic) party bosses’ Chosen One, Mary Burke. The lady bears a yard sign-friendly name and holds an MBA from Harvard (Walker is a college dropout, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates). Her personal wealth suggests she could partially self-finance a gubernatorial bid against the well-stocked incumbent. Yes, she is a one percenter like Mitt the Romney. 

Mary Burke did a stint heading a state cabinet agency, Jim Doyle’s Commerce Department. She would be the first female gubernatorial nominee for a major party in Wisconsin. Top that off with a private-sector business background in the family bike company; it’s a neat contrast to Scott Walker’s career in government. Now that’s triangulation! Best of all, Mary Burke has put down thinner tracks than a Trek racing bike. Attack her record? What record? 

All of which suggests to party boss Mike Tate that the lady can win. But are Democrats ready for Mary Burke? Like Joe Stalin on Red Bull, the party of Brett Hulsey is purging its moderates, people like Milwaukee Democrats Shirley Krug (once the Assembly minority leader) and Jason Fields, for supporting school choice for disadvantaged children. The last moderate Senate Democrat, Tim Cullen, turned out the lights on re-election.

Would a Gov. Burke vow to reinstate public employee contract bargaining privileges? Kathleen Falk’s vow to do so branded her as an abject panderer. Tom Barrett, the eventual nominee, never uttered the words “collective bargaining.” Even reintroducing mandatory payroll deduction of union dues could be a hard sell. Government employees would balk at the reduced paycheck. They’re getting along fine without the union.

Which is where Konopacki’s Chinese cartoon comes in. Most of Trek’s bicycles — the affordable models — are manufactured in China. No Trek worker anywhere is represented by a labor union. The Koch Brothers have signed more collective bargaining agreements.

Burke’s only campaign experience was her election to the Madison School Board, where she triumphed over the opposition of the teachers union, a key Democrat(ic) constituency. Burke cast the only vote against a 4.47% tax levy hike in September.


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Oct 1, 2013 04:45 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Are you kidding me. You really think Walker is a stand up guy.

Says a lot about you Blaska.

Integrity Bring it LOL

Oct 2, 2013 09:31 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

pffft... you just made me spit out my Dr. Pepper when you compared Walker to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs!

Oct 2, 2013 07:27 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


You really should cut down on the hi-test coffee. Try some de-caf. Or maybe some herbal tea. You may feel better and not come off as such a smart-#$%&* know-it-all.

Have a nice day.


Oct 3, 2013 08:45 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Another column delightfully full of holes, illusions and leaps of logic, as usual.
I have to say, starting out by blaming the workers for the auto industry's lack of competitiveness is a non sequitur. Did those union workers design the cars? Did they market them? No! I'd say Konopacki's targeted paunchy white middle-aged capitalist (I.e. management) is correct. Only a Randian view of the world deifies those parasites (along with everyone connected to ALEC).
Walker is a college dropout like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? AnonyBob wears glasses, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gate! By Blaska logic, AnonyBob = Scott Walker! Wow, whodathunk?
Finally, Mary Burke sure seems to have your side in full aggressive/defensive mode. Just because she's an intelligent, educated (call me an elitist!), accomplished businesswoman without the taint of being a corrupt ideologue like our current ineffective Governor. At the very least you have to admit she hasn't completely pissed off almost half the state; that's gotta count for something!
By the way, how's that United Sportsmen (STILL in the news!) debacle working out for your side? Pee-yew!

Oct 3, 2013 10:52 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

Annoying Bob writes: " ... blaming the workers for the auto industry's lack of competitiveness is a non sequitur. Did those union workers design the cars? Did they market them?"

Then those workers should have taken sledgehammers to the Chevettes, Pintos, and Pacers. American car buyers did.

I don't dislike Mary Burke (altho she has the personality of an iceberg). It's your own mouth breathers in the Singalong Chorus who distrust her.

Now, a question for you: are you really Graeme Zielinski?

Oct 3, 2013 11:20 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Good one! Ha! But I can assure you, as much as anyone posting anonymously can, that I am not GZ (I like to think I'm not THAT over the top). I occasionally see you around the Square; someday I'll introduce myself to you, but not as long as I'm in a job that can face GOP retribution (those guys are humorless and vindictive).
My point stands that the workers were not responsible for the crap Detroit foisted on the driving public. You're blaming the common working man for worrying about his job in the face of circumstances he can't control.
The fact that "my mouth breathers" don't trust Burke is part of what makes her such a strong threat. And you guys know it. Thanks for the crocodile tears.

Oct 3, 2013 12:30 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

Except that Mary Burke will never survive the Democrats' primary. Right now it's Kathleen Vinehout, D-Rockford. That's you leap of logic. As for holes, a question you never answered, does Gov. Mary Burke institute statewide mandatory union dues deduction?

Oct 3, 2013 12:31 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


Answer AnonBob's question; How is that United Sportmen affair working for you?? This could be the issue that tips the election in favor or anybody but walker. And the clowns that signed the letter to DNR without knowing what they were signing.


Oct 3, 2013 01:42 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

And Dave, as long as we're not answering each others' questions, I have 4 words for you: "Suder - under the bus!"
I'd be nervous as Hell if I were Cathy Stepp or the 18 loser GOP leggies that signed that letter of support for the United Sportsmen corruption.

Oct 3, 2013 02:43 pm
 Posted by  John

4 (so far) stages of AnonyBob:
1) Why don't you talk about the terrible United Sportsmen?
2) Oh you are talking about it? Well, can you believe that Walker signed that terrible United Sportsmen funding?
3) Oh .. Walker rescinded it? Well can you believe Walker is hiring that terrible Scott Suder who sponsored the United Sportsmen provision?
4) Oh ... Walker is NOT going to hire Suder? Can you believe that Walker would throw that perfect saint Scott Suder under the bus??

Let me get this straight, 'Nony: Walker saved the state $28 million by changing the funding source for United Sportsmen from the feds to the state through his veto. Then when he found about the group's funky organization he rescinded the funding altogether. Then he disinvited the sponsor to be in his administration. And you think that's a bad thing, why? Sounds like just the kind of responsible and responsive governor we want! I know you mostly just like to hear your own whiny voice, but in this case all your complaining about Walker doing the RIGHT things makes him look like a genius. I hope you and Earl continue loudly proclaiming Walker's virtues on this issue.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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