Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Conversation With Kathleen Falk

The other night, I had the opportunity to have a chat with Kathleen Falk, the front runner to be the Democratic candidate to take on the corrupt Scott Walker.

Fully aware that many people on the left side of the aisle have concerns about what would happen if Falk became the nominee for this race, I chose to take the approach of asking Falk how she would respond to these concerns as well as discuss some more general issues, if time allowed.  To figure out just what I would ask, I went to others to get their sense of Falk and what questions they might have for her.  The people I informally poled came from all walks of life, liberal and conservative, unionized and non-union, young and old.

When the conversation started, I have to admit that Falk threw me for a loop immediately by taking the initiative and asking me for what advice I had for her on how to succeed.  I've dealt with enough politicians on both sides of the aisle to know to have a certain level of skepticism and wariness, with a few notable exceptions.  Too often, a politician will look at me wondering how they might use me or wondering how much a threat I might be, depending on how our political positions align.

Falk didn't take either of those approaches, which was quite refreshing.

Falk also expressed her enthusiasm and excitement for the shift in political awareness and action that our state has seen in the last year.  She said, "The most amazing thing is people are doing something constructive," rather than just sitting back and taking it.  She also expressed her appreciation for the drive and enthusiasm that people all across the state are showing in their desire to restore Wisconsin back to its traditional values.

Still caught a bit off guard, I returned my focus on the questions that I had for her.

The first question was to find out how realistic it is to expect to restore the damage done by Walker and the Republicans.  We agreed to start with collective bargaining to begin with and expand from there.

Falk said that by making the pledge that she did, to veto any budget that doesn't restore collective bargaining was the only way to ensure getting it done.  She pointed out that it would be very difficult to turn over the Assembly, which is especially true given the unethical gerrymandering the Republicans have done.  She said that a bill to restore collective bargaining could be introduced in the Senate, but that did not mean the Assembly had to take it up.  The only bill that both houses have to take up is the budget.

Falk also stated that it was "not enough not to be willing to veto the budget."

Falk has already written about this and you can find her rationale for her pledge here.

I then brought up the fact that Walker has alienated many of the independent voters as well as some Republican voters by going to far with his power grab and his abuses of office.  I asked her if she was concerned with losing the middle by going too far to the other extreme.

Falk replied that she was only promising to restore the order of balance that we had before Walker started tearing the state apart.  She also said that "people have to know where I am coming from. I don't want to be like Walker and get ousted in a year for fooling people."  She said that her campaign was about being truthful and honest with the people, something that Walker has not been.

The third and fourth questions were similar, asking how she would overcome the bias and the label of being a "liberal from Dane County" and being a "puppet for the unions."

Falk pointed out that only Dane County liberals thought that they couldn't carry the state.  She pointed out that in her last election, which she had lost by less than one half of one percent, she did very well in the counties in Northern Wisconsin.  She also said that when she has gone to those counties in recent days, she is still receiving the same warm welcomes and support she did before.

Falk said that her history and experience shows that she knows how to work with the unions to the benefit of everyone and not just special interests and big corporations.  She said that she was extremely grateful for the endorsements and support from the various unions, she is also equally proud of her endorsement from Emily's List and the support she has received from the LGBT community.  She also pointed out that she has experience in being an environmental lawyer.  She stated that she is not only passionate about restoring workers rights but about correcting many of the other wrongs that the current administration has done.

I will admit that when Falk first announced her candidacy, I was then less than enthused.  I was concerned about the issues above as well as the fact that she had ran twice in a statewide race and lost both times. But as I started looking into her record and got to know more about her, I found that many of my concerns were being addressed.  

She has the ability to win a statewide race as evidenced by the closeness of her race against JB Van Hollen. I seriously think she only lost because too many people who were faithful to the reputation-damaged Peg Lautenschlager chose to sit that one out.  She's more than a single issue candidate.  She has more experience than Walker does as an executive and a better track record to boot.

Cory Liebmann also had the opportunity to interview Falk and you can click here to see his report.


  1. Falk Wisconsin. Apropos for her party.

  2. Wingnut troll using a French expression. I thought the other guy was dumb.

  3. Well-done reporting that reminds me of a few factors that are bringing me around to thinking that Falk just might make it, despite her gender in this sorry state for women in politics. Thanks!

  4. Can we assume then you are ready to endorse her now, or are you still waiting on Barret?

  5. Well, you tried. I'll give you that. Are the same people influential in the party, like the ones who thought Lassa was a great idea? If so they need to go away. This is not going to work.
    C'mon, is this really a good time for a Romney-esque candidate that people are trying so hard to convince themselves they're in love with?

    Falk is going to waste a lot of people's time and resources. We will be stuck with an emboldened Walker. He will leave our state in a shambles as he stops even pretending to care about what happens here and goes full bore using WI as a springboard to Washington.
    It won't matter what's really happening here, it will only matter how what happens here can be spun on Fox, using inflatable palm trees if necessary. Scott Walker was (in my opinion) angling for a huge skirmish from Day One. He keeps trying and trying to really push people to some kind of breaking point. I think he wants some big conflict that plays well on the evening news. Wills that need to be broken, backs too his he's lucky. I think he was hoping to have to call out the National Guard but it didn't work out. Fine, he'll take this kind of skirmish instead. Enormous difficulty (and the surviving thereof) proves his mettle. Like he's worthy to become Prez and kick Iranian butt or whatever the wingnuts have planned.
    I personally wouldn't wanna get into it with Ms. Falk, but unless Walker gets arrested pretty damn soon HE can take her with 2 arms and one leg tied behind his back.
    When in battle it's far more important to know yourself than to know your opponent. Both Vinehout and Falk are confusing what they desire to be with what they really are. We need to do better than this. Look at the way those on her side parse their intros - this post here, and Maddow, you both start with a wind-down, lowering expectations before (you hope) building them back up again. That's a No right there. Too many people have an instinct to start the Falk Talk with an apology of sorts. Not a good sign. If that's supposed to make the reader/listener empathize and then follow your change of heart like a bull with a ring thru it's nose, uh-uh. nope nope nope.

  6. I support Kathleen Falk. She will lose and the government unions will lose with her.

  7. How did you determine that Falk is the front runner? We don't even know who the canidates are. If you will check Falk's Attorney General general election vote totals you will see that she lost by 12,000 votes - - and in Dane County she ran 12,000 votes behind Jim Dolye - - thats a little concerning. Also the business community was very concerned about what they saw as her anti-growth stance and what they saw as extreme evironmental positions. Thus the business community spent $2.5 million to campaign againest her being the Attorney General. Can you really see her developing the broad appeal needed to attract independant voters? It seems unlikely to me.

  8. You answered your own question. She and Vinehout are the only one's that expressed interest in the job, and Falk leads Vinehout.

    As for the business community spending against her, don't you think that they'd spend it against the Democrat, whoever that person is?

    And double check your facts. Dane County thrived under her leadership.

  9. Sorry I'm a bit late to the discussion, but I'm curious. Is she more personable one on one than she seems in broadcast interviews? I have to admit I haven't been a huge fan of hers, but I'm slowly warming up to her. I do respect her accomplishments. The problem is in every interview I've seen or heard she doesn't seem comfortable or very charismatic. I worry this will turn off the independent and middle ground voters. I also worry she'll energize the right wing base (although they're probably going to come out in force regardless of the candidates). So as someone who talked to her what can you tell me to allay my fears?

    1. I had much the same concerns as yours. I heard her speak at a rally and felt bored. But talking to her revealed a passionate and very intelligent woman, who understood what the issues were, what was needed to fix them and, most importantly, the fortitude to carry out what had to be done.