MILWAUKEE – A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in the Wisconsin governor’s race. Another 3 percent say that they are undecided or that they do not know whom they will support, while 1 percent say that they will vote for someone else. Likely voters are those who say that they are certain to vote in the November election.And Mary Burke's claim that her tenure at her family's company, Trek Bicycle, is a qualification for higher office? Well. . . .
Among registered voters in the poll, Walker receives 46 percent and Burke 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent saying that they will vote for someone else.
The poll interviewed 1,409 registered voters, including 1,164 likely voters, by landline and cell phone Oct. 23-26. For the full sample of 1,409 registered voters, the margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points. The margin of error for the sample of 1,164 likely voters is +/- 3.0 percentage points. This is the final Marquette Law School Poll before the Nov. 4 election.
MADISON, Wis. — In attempting to explain her two-year work hiatus in the early to mid-1990s, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has said she was just burned out after an intense period of leading European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp., her family’s Waterloo-based global manufacturer.Now, it must be said that Ellerman is a Republican operative these days and for that reason this report could be viewed with suspicion. Except, well. . . .
In fact, Burke apparently was fired by her own family following steep overseas financial losses and plummeting morale among Burke’s European sales staff, multiple former Trek executives and employees told Wisconsin Reporter.
The sales team threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for 12 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees.
But former Trek president Tom Albers told The Associated Press that Burke's role as head of Trek's overseas operations "just didn't work out. We were losing money." He said Burke's brother John fired her.But Albers does want you to think well of Burke, kinda:
Both Mary Burke and her brother John Burke, the current head of Trek, denied Wednesday that she was fired from the job in 1993. They say she left as part of a reorganization of the overseas operation.
Two former high-level executives of Trek Bicycle claim that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was forced out as head of European operations for her family's business 21 years ago — an allegation that Burke and the company denied, labeling it a last-minute smear campaign.It might not be the only job that's too big for her.
"I'm not saying she was incompetent," said Tom Albers, former Trek chief operating officer who left the company in 1997. "Maybe this job was too big for her."
UPDATE: Albers has a lot more to say here. A taste:
“Her way of managing was kind of a ‘her way or the highway’ kind of approach to things,” Albers explains, adding that her subordinates “felt that she wouldn’t listen to them and was just imposing things on them that didn’t make sense.”A few observations:
“So because of all that—which had gone on for a while, obviously—John Burke went to his father basically saying, ‘We need to make a change over here.’ Obviously, being a family situation, this was extremely sensitive and very difficult to pursue. So Dick Burke came to me and said, ‘Before anything is done here, would you go over there and give me your thoughts on what the situation is like?’”
Albers flew to Trek’s European headquarters and quickly discovered that John Burke wasn’t exaggerating.
“I pretty much came back with the same conclusions that John Burke had made; and that was that we had major people problems over there and were in a situation where we could lose a lot of people. We were losing a lot of money and I couldn’t see where Mary Burke was going to turn this thing around.”
Albers reported his findings to Richard Burke, who listened intently and then, Albers says, acted decisively.
“The family—and by that I mean Dick and John Burke—finally agreed to bring her back. And so, to say it bluntly, she was fired.”
- It's worth remembering that the events that are under discussion here took place 20 years ago. Under ordinary circumstances, one might expect that a person's performance would improve after 20 years. It's possible that a fired executive could get another chance elsewhere and build a record of success. We aren't hearing that because, in Burke's case, that hasn't happened.
- It's frankly stunning that Burke hadn't gotten out front on this story, particularly if she were aware that senior executives at Trek had become Republican operatives. Gary Ellerman has been hiding in plain sight -- he is still based in Jefferson County, where Trek is located. There was ample time to frame the story of Burke's tenure at the family company, but the campaign never did that. That's a huge error and it speaks directly to Burke's management acumen. If you can't handle basic messaging, it's difficult to see how you can effectively govern a state.
- You have seen some comparisons between Burke and Mark Dayton, but there's a significant difference in their careers. Dayton never was part of management at Dayton Hudson/Target, so he never had to manage a profit/loss statement in a corporate environment, especially one where you are held accountable for financial results. Dayton has always been a politician. That's a huge advantage. Burke, like Dayton, has tried to buy her way into politics, but since she had to work for her family's company, she had performance metrics and now we've learned what they were. Dayton's only performance metrics have come at the ballot box. If you're going to be a limousine liberal, you need to stay in the limousine.