By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Who is Hari Trivedi?
He’s the independent candidate in Wisconsin’s historic recall election, and if this election is close, this Brookfield physician could spell big trouble for Tom Barrett.
You remember Trivedi, his thick accent, appealing to voters in his campaign ad during the Super Bowl.
That one, he told Wisconsin Reporter, cost him more than $27,000.
But that outlay and other campaign expenses in this race signaled Trivedi’s zeal to run, his belief that he can beat two big-name, big-cash titans in Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
“There are people who have never participated in the political process, never registered to vote, who say they’ll vote for me,” rivedi said Monday, campaigning on recall election eve. “There is a large untapped political pool.”
Political polls show the vast majority of Wisconsin voters are casting their ballots for the big dogs in the race, with Walker leading anywhere from 3 percentage points to 9, although Barrett’s campaign has said internal polling shows the race a dead heat.
That said, liberal leaning Political Policy Polling has shown Trivedi picking up about 2 percent of voters, although PPP’s latest poll, released late Sunday, doesn’t include Trivedi.
So what if Trivedi brings in 1 percent of the vote, maybe as high as 2.8 million, according to a projected 65 percent turnout? He could grab 28,000 votes.
If the race is as razor thin as some project, that’s 28,000 votes that could have gone somewhere else — presumably to Barrett.
While Trivedi boldly asks voters why they would vote for Walker or Barrett, blasting each man for what he sees as the miserable handling of their respective positions, his positions are more in line with the left than with the right.
He’s pro-choice, pro-gun control, favors medical use of marijuana and supports gay rights.
He believes in full union rights for the public sector.
“I support union representation of public employees (and all employees) since unions keep open a channel of communication between management and employees,” Trivedi says on his campaign website. “Hence I believe collective bargaining rights should be restored.”
Could we have a Ross Perot situation, when in 1992 the independent businessman drew votes away from incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush, and helped Bush Democratic challenger Bill Clinton in the White House?
John Rink, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, said it probably isn’t likely, but anything is possible in a close race.
“We don’t have electoral college votes to factor in. Everything is decided through the sheer number of votes,” he said. “Anything that draws them to another could have an impact on the outcome of a close election.”
Rink said while it’s safe to assume votes for the independent could hurt Barrett more, he doubts any conscientious Barrett voter — or, maybe more apropos, an anti-Walker voter — would vote for Trivedi.
Turnout, Rink and other pundits have stressed, is the secret of success in this unprecedented election.
And turnout was running heavy statewide early Tuesday afternoon.
Trivedi has pledged to do something his fellow candidates have not.
“I have pledged that if I don’t produce positive job growth in 12 months, I will return my (governor’s) salary,” he said.
Politics with a money-back guarantee.