Mary McColl seems harmless enough. I'm tempted to call her unintimidating, although spell-check tells me that's not a word. Let's just say she's not big, and she's not scary. But she's precisely the sort of person Gov. Scott Walker wants to present as a threat to the people of his state.
As Walker told a man he thought was New York City oil billionaire David Koch in a secretly recorded phone conversation yesterday (after admitting he "thought about" planting troublemakers in the crowd to instigate disruptions), "The guys we got left are largely from out of state, and I keep dismissing it in all of my press comments, [saying] 'Er, they're mostly from out of state.'"
In nine days of covering Capitol protests, I've spoken to at least 100 demonstrators, on either side of the divide that Walker has created. McColl, whom I interviewed just after noon today, is the first one who's been from out of state. (I know some are here, but they haven't been a major presence, which makes Walker's claim a wee bit less than truthful.) And so I leaped at the chance to interview her.
McColl is the new executive director of the Actors Equity Association, which represents "upwards of 48,000 members, actors and stage managers" from around the country. McColl, like Koch, lives in New York City. But unlike Koch, who's given tens of thousand of dollars to Walker's campaign and bankrolled the group that staged a pro-Walker rally last Saturday, she is not someone who can just call up and get a few minutes of Walker's time.
And so she's come to Wisconsin, to show her support for the hundreds of actors and stage managers her group represents here: "I'm here to represent Equity members who work across the state of Wisconsin," she told me. "Our position is we are trying to show solidarity with the workers."
As for having this happen so soon after she became her union's head, McColl says, "I am so honored to have this be my baptism by fire because this is a historic moment."
She appeared sincere to me, but maybe it was just acting.