The most-read story on Politico this morning is headlined GOP Gov. Candidate: 'I'm not Scott Walker.' That would be Rob McKenna, hoping to become Washington's first Republican governor in three decades, telling a group of union carpenters that he's no Scott Walker, Wisconsin's anti-union GOP governor who is hoping not to be recalled in June. McKenna's taped disavowal of his fellow conservative was leaked to the D.C. website by Dems hoping to embarrass both Walker and McKenna.
The tape went over big with some of Walker's Democratic detractors in Wisconsin, happy to hear a Republican shying away from the embattled first-term governor. The tape was also a hit with lefties Rachel Maddow (below) and Ed Schultz on MSNBC. Washington state Dems pounced, of course, seeing it in another light: McKenna really is Scott Walker.
"Rob McKenna has told the Tea Party, 'I represent you,'" said Jaime Smith, spokesperson for McKenna's Democratic opponent Jay Inslee. "He called the unionization of state employees 'dangerous.' He wants to put working families at risk by privatizing worker's compensation. He keynoted an [American Legislative Exchange Council] event in Olympia, embracing the same far-right ideology as Scott Walker. The similarities are many, but the biggest difference is that Scott Walker won his  race and Rob McKenna won't."
Democrats have been trying to portray McKenna as Walker in newspaper ads, claiming "If you like what Governor Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, you will love Rob McKenna as Washington State's Governor."
But supporters say there's no evidence McKenna is rabidly anti-union like Walker, whose recall is driven mainly by his opposition to collective bargaining for public-sector unions. (Polls are currently running in favor of Walker not becoming the third governor to ever be recalled in U.S. history. As he confidently told supporters yesterday, "When we prevail on June 5, it will send a powerful message to the statehouses across the country.")
Charles McCray, a spokesperson for McKenna, told Politico, "Rob generally includes - but it is seemingly cut from this recording - that public employees are the solution to increasing the performance, while reducing the size, of state government. It's state workers who know how they can improve what they do if given the ability and motivation to do so."