So the recall vote against Scott Walker will happen. But progressives are really worried about one unforeseen problem: there really isn’t anyone to run against Walker. The Wisconsin recall law is more of a new election than a straight recall. So Democrats need an opponent. The obvious choice is Russ Feingold, but as of now, Feingold has shown little to no interest. I’ve read a lot of worried columns in the last few days about this. The other choices seem to range from the blah Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010, to the equally uninspiring David Obey to a bunch of little known state and local level politicians. There’s a campaign to draft Feingold, but he’s unpredictable so who knows if he’ll bite.
This led me to wonder why there isn’t a more active national campaign to develop the state bench. I follow state politics fairly closely (though I haven’t really talked about this much since I joined LGM) and you hear this all the time–the bench is weak. Isn’t it the interest of everyone for the party to take an active role in developing the bench. Ensure ways for up and coming politicians to get their voices heard. Give them important speaking spots. Get them on the right legislative committees.
I can see some problems with this for sure. A centrist Democratic party is perhaps likely to promote centrists rather than progressives. It could smack of cronyism and help create machines. So I can imagine arguments against this idea. At the same time, it also seems valuable to think of your state legislatures and mayors as minor leagues for potentially excellent politicians and for the national party to develop that talent in concrete ways.