Monday 26 February 2018

Obama fear as radical Republican set to win state vote

Peter Foster in Washington

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama's re-election campaign faces another potential setback today as Republicans are poised to win an election that is being seen as a bellwether for November's White House battle.

The "recall" vote in the mid-western state of Wisconsin, seen as a popular referendum on the politics of austerity, was triggered last year after the unions collected a million signatures in an attempt to oust a firebrand Republican governor who had outlawed collective bargaining and slashed spending.

Last night, Governor Scott Walker was more than six points clear of his Democratic challenger in an aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics, as both parties campaigned frantically to win an election that could deliver national momentum to the winner.

The battle to unseat Mr Walker has taken on national significance after Republicans rallied to support a politician who was treated as a hero when he introduced swingeing cuts to plug a $3.8bn (€3bn) gap in the state budget.

The Walker budget, which increased the cost of benefits for public sector workers and stripped unions of collective bargaining rights, brought some 100,000 workers on to the streets last year.

If he is defeated, Mr Walker would become the third US state governor recalled from office during his term.

Big-name Republican politicians have travelled to Wisconsin to campaign for Mr Walker, whose austerity policies were seen as a beacon of good practice by many on the Right who accuse Mr Obama of bloating public spending and failing to tackle the US debt mountain.

Taunts

Mr Obama has conspicuously failed to campaign in person for the Democrat challenger -- Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee -- leading to taunts from Republicans that he was running scared from a defeat that could highlight the president's fading star power.

The Wisconsin campaign has been fought largely on the issue of job creation, which is seen as key in November's election. Mr Obama looks vulnerable following a sharp slowdown in job growth.

In another barometer of national trends, the outcome will also reflect the power of outside money to swing the vote, with Mr Walker outspending his Democrat opponent after raising $30m, more than half from out-of-state sources. (©Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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