Rachel Maddow was in barely-controlled-panic mode on her show last night as she assessed Wisconsin's upcoming recall election, which pits sitting GOP Gov. Scott Walker against Democrat Tom Barrett, the Mayor of Wisconsin. "Democrats should be fighting like the existence of their party depends on it," she told viewers. "Because it does."
Walker, elected in the GOP wave of 2010, was no sooner sworn in than he went after the state's public sector unions, stripping their benefits and collective bargaining rights under the guise of tackling Wisconsin's debt but with the actual goal of wiping out public unions altogether. Maddow did a good job of explaining why: Without union cash and support, Democrats in the state will have no way to compete with corporate-backed GOP candidates – ever again. "Killing the unions is the GOP's strategy for turning Wisconsin permanently Republican," she said. And if Walker stays in office, that's what he'll do – kill the unions, setting an example for other GOP governors to follow.
The reason Maddow's freaking out is that, with the June 5 recall election fast approaching, Walker is slightly ahead in the polls and Republican voters are way more fired up than Democrats, thanks to an advertising blitz paid for largely by out-of-state corporate donations to Walker, who has outspent his opponent 25 to 1. Maddow wonders whether state and national Democrats really get what's at stake in "the most important election in the country before the general election." "Do [Democrats] have a Hail Mary to pull this out?" she asks a far-too-calm-for-her-taste Jon Erpenbach, a Wisconsin state senator. It's not at all clear that they do. Watch: