Scott Walker wants to change the subject.
On Wednesday, the governor went after his Democratic challenger Mary Burke on something (anything) other than jobs and the economy. No, Walker attacked her for not doing enough to reduce the racial achievement gap in Madison schools. Never mind that she devoted a lot of her own energy and a bunch of money into the AVID/TOPS program, which was designed to address that very issue. Never mind that Burke has been one of seven total members of the Madison school board for all of two years or so.
No, it turns out that, according to Walker, the way to bridge the achievement gap is to fully implement his anti-union Act 10 measures, which of course the school board has resisted. The governor has a knack for reducing all complex issues down to the simple idea that public employees, in this case teachers, make too much money.
It's a ridiculous charge that Burke should have no trouble brushing aside, but the fact that Walker felt the need to make it says something meaningful about the current state of the race.
Up until now, this election has been about jobs, and Burke wants to keep the focus there. You can make a decent case that any governor has at best minimal impact on job creation, but that doesn't matter here. Walker bought that issue when he promised 250,000 new private sector jobs in four years and said that he should be held accountable for his performance against that measure. Wisconsin is on track to hit barely half of his promised number of jobs.
So, the fact that Walker decided that he needs to change the subject is a good sign for the Burke campaign. This is a well-considered gambit by the governor. He figures that it allows him to raise several issues at once: tying Burke to teachers unions, reminding voters that she sits on the liberal Madison school board, and suggesting that she has failed at meeting an important goal in public education.
I don't think it will work. It's not like Governor Walker has championed minority educational achievement in any way. It's a hollow charge, but he's trying to move on from his misfire on his attack on Trek Bicycle for off-shoring jobs. He tried to tie Mary Burke to that, and it bounced back on him.
The governor's campaign is showing signs of being off its game, and is now maybe just a little bit desperate. If we continue to see Walker just throwing more stuff like this up against the wall to see what sticks, that will be a further indication that his campaign's internal polling and his own political instincts tell him he's in trouble come November.