I have long argued that a Democratic primary for the party's gubernatorial nomination would be a good thing for democracy, for the party and for front-runner Burke. But with today's announcement from Sen. Kathleen Vinehout that she won't make the race, it looks like the nomination will go to Burke without a fight. That means that the Republicans can let loose on her now without hesitation.
I stipulate that Mary Burke is a good candidate. She's smart and disciplined. She has a background in job creation that will allow her to focus on the issue that Governor Scott Walker himself has made the centerpiece of his administration. In the end, Burke almost certainly would have received the nomination anyway.
But some of us argued that a primary would sharpen Burke as a candidate, allow her to test messages and, most importantly, define herself before her opponents do that for her. Now, unless somebody comes out of nowhere to mount a last minute challenge, that won't happen.
The Democratic establishment, strategists, professionals and money people did not want a primary. That’s because when you live in the world of professional politics, these kinds of races are all about money, television and negative advertising. There's no room in that world for interesting ideas, for undisciplined candidates saying what they think, for going off script to talk about issues that don't poll well with swing voters. In short, there's no room for the kind of stuff that makes politics fun and engaging.
Now that she is for all intents and purposes the Democratic nominee for governor, my advice to Mary Burke is to spend a bunch of money to define herself right now before she gets swift-boated by the other side. My second piece of advice is to ignore her strategists occasionally and just be herself.