I have long held the view that a primary would be good for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee in the recall of Governor Scott Walker. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has now given us that primary.
The reason a hotly contested primary is good is that it gives Walker and the third party groups supporting him five weeks less time to destroy the character of the ultimate nominee.
I know both Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk very well. I worked with each of them when I was mayor, but I've been friends with each long before that. Far from not wanting them to run against one another, I know we now have the choice between two able leaders.
But while both could do the job well, they give Democrats a very clear choice in styles both as candidates and as potential governors. Tom's style is much closer to my own approach.
Tom also has the advantage of not being perceived as being too close to the big public employee unions. That support is of marginal benefit in the primary, but it hurts in the general where the Democrat will be fighting for the independent swing voters who don't necessarily want a governor who seems to be tied too closely to any interest group.
This is not a union state so much as it's an independent state. Think Bill Proxmire, not Jimmy Hoffa.
Virtually every politico I talk to who I respect believes that Kathleen made an error in signing the pledge to veto any budget that didn't restore collective bargaining rights. Some even believe that that alone guarantees her defeat in the general election.
I don't know that I'd go that far, but it was a blunder of significant proportions.
That aside, a Democratic race that had the plodding feel of Mitt Romney's death march to his own nomination is now an exciting race between two good people with different ideas and approaches. And whoever comes out of it will be stronger for the challenge.