Workers (not) united for Dem’s millionaire candidate Mary Burke


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — Poor Mary Burke.

The Madison liberal anointed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as its candidate for governor and blasted by the Republican Party of Wisconsin for her failed fiscal conservative record is getting no love from the far left.

“The selection of former Trek Bike executive and multi-millionaire philanthropist Mary Burke as their gubernatorial candidate represents a further turn to the right by the Democratic Party,” laments a socialist website’s column, published Tuesday.

HEY, WAIT: It appears Madison millionaire Mary Burke is losing support from the ultra-left. The socialist scene sees Burke, Democrat candidate for governor against incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker, as just another establishment player.

Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election in November will “set the stage for further attacks on the working class,” thanks to the Dems’ presumed candidate, writes Niles Williamson of Milwaukee for the World Socialist Web Site, your source for “Marxist analysis, international working class struggles & the fight for socialism.”

The Democratic Party has dropped any pretense of fighting to roll back massive cuts to social spending or to reverse the attacks on workers’ rights carried out by Republican Governor Scott Walker,” Williamson declares.

The Marxists, much like the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, aren’t keen on Walker’s signature achievement in his first term, his reforms of public-sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin. Act 10, as the law is officially known, limits contract negotiations to wages, up to the cost of living, and requires public employees to contribute to their taxpayer-funded pensions and more to their taxpayer-funded health insurance — unthinkable in the eyes of the defenders of the proletariat.

“After the passage of the bill the Democrats worked with the unions to disperse workers anger into a futile recall campaign against Governor Walker and other state Republican officials,” Williamson asserts, referring to Wisconsin’s partisan recall elections of 2011 and 2012. “The pseudo-lefts promoted illusions in the attempted recall of Governor Walker in 2012, which ended in a rout of the Democrats, who ran Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a candidate who openly boasted about enacting deep austerity measures on city workers by working with the trade unions.”

The article bemoans Act 10’s provision that requires public-sector unions to hold annual recertification votes, a requirement that has whittled down membership in Big Labor. Of course, the article doesn’t note that now, given the choice, many Wisconsin public employees have opted out of automatic union dues.

Williamson blasts Burke for spending an unprecedented $128,000 out of her own pocket, “outspending her opponent more than 11 to 1” in 2012 to win her seat on the Madison Metropolitan School Board. He points to heated criticism of Burke by John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., who leveled arguably the most severe charge in the socialist lexicon, calling Burke a “1-percenter” during the school board campaign.

Matthews, Williamson sadly notes, has since endorsed Burke.

Same for the unions, “bestowing her with endorsements and opening up their cash reserves,” Williamson notes.

Why, it was Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, who praised her as “the best candidate to represent working people across Wisconsin.”

Obscene, say the socialists, noting that Burke most recently referred to herself as a fiscal conservative during a joint meeting of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Press Club.

That, too, was more than the Republican Party of Wisconsin could take.

“Only a Madison millionaire would be so out of touch to suggest that her record of tax increases and budget deficits is ‘fiscally conservative,’” Joe Fadness, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement issued Tuesday. Fadness noted the more-socialist-than-conservative budgets Burke’s boss, Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle put together when Burke served as state Commerce secretary.

“Wisconsinites should be warned — Burke’s liberal, big-government record with the Doyle administration and Madison School Board indicates clearly that she would only lead Wisconsin backward with policies that would hamper our state’s economy,” Fadness added.

Not liberal or big-government enough for the socialists, apparently.

Mary Burke just can’t win.

“Burke has worked deliberately in her campaign to distance herself from the 2011 protests and the massive opposition to Walker’s attack on public sector workers’ rights,” the World Socialist Web Site article asserts. “Her campaign website makes no mention of her position on Act 10, collective bargaining, or workers’ rights. Falling in line with Burke’s campaign, the unions have completely dropped overturning Act 10 as an issue in the campaign.”

The Burke campaign did not immediately respond to Wisconsin Reporter’s questions about the candidate’s standing among socialists.

Contact M.D. Kittle at

Category: Featured, Wisconsin, Act 10, Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Joe Fadness, John Mathews, Madison, Madison Teachers Inc., Mary Burke, Republican Party of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, socialists, World Socialist Web Site