Posts tagged "Wisconsin Recalls"

h/t: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA

(via questionall)


Walker blames protests for crap economy his policies have created.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Asked Thursday about new numbers showing Wisconsin lagging in job growth, Gov. Scott Walker pointed to the uncertainty he said business owners felt because of the political tumult that rocked Wisconsin early in his term.

Meanwhile, his critics said the governor’s policies had created a drag on growth.

“The first year we had a lot of protests in the state,” Walker said, during an appearance in Milwaukee to promote business growth in the city. “We had two years’, almost, worth of recalls. A lot of employers here I think can relate to the fact (that) uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges for employers big or small or anywhere in between. There was a lot of uncertainty. The good news is that’s passed.”

And that’s why no business ever hires in any democracy at all, right? I mean, you move your business to some state and then they go and have an election and you don’t know who they’re going to pick! The uncertainty makes for a completely terrible business environment. Every two years there’s a different government and the uncertainty caused by that just scares the living crap out of business owners.

Yeah, that’s not a very good excuse.

The better explanation is that trickle-down economics sucks as much as economists say it does. Walker’s been attacking workers and the poor, which amounts to a War on Consumer Demand. The message businesses have been getting out of Wisconsin isn’t “Ooh, we’ve got scary protests and the government might change someday. Too many elections, run away!” it’s “Come to Wisconsin, where taxes are low and customers are broke.”

“The plunge in job growth, compared with other states, coincides exactly with Scott Walker’s time in office,” says Jack Norman, one-time research director of the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future. “This is no mere coincidence… Act 10 led to large cuts in public workers’ take-home pay, which was a blow to the state’s economy.”

Slash workers pay = slash consumer demand. It’s cause and effect and it’s inevitable. Walker isn’t offering an explanation, he’s making excuses. And the fact that he doesn’t plan to change his fiscal course should tell you everything you need to know about how serious the Wisconsin Governor is when it comes to serving his state. He’s not. He’s serious about preserving his wingnut purity by serving a failed ideology. He’s serious about winning the Crazy Person in America contest that will be the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

[photo by Gage Skidmore]

The nearly three-year-old John Doe investigation into aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker is closed, the judge who is overseeing that probe said Friday.

Neal Nettesheim, a retired state appeals court judge, said he entered an order Feb. 21 concluding the probe. The decision was made public after Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm concluded paperwork in the case.

No new charges will come from the John Doe investigation, Nettesheim said.

Chisholm confirmed the end of the investigation in a statement. “After a review of the John Doe evidence, I am satisfied that all charges that are supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt have now been brought and concluded. As a consequence, last week my office petitioned for, and Judge Nettesheim has granted, the closure of the John Doe investigation.”

Milwaukee prosecutors launched a secret John Doe investigation into aides and associates of Walker nearly three years ago. Walker’s chief of staff contacted prosecutors over suspicions that more than the $11,000 was missing from Operation Freedom, a fund used to pay for an annual event to honor veterans and their families.

The investigation later was broadened into other areas, including another embezzlement case involving Operation Freedom money and two county employees in Walker’s office doing campaign work while at their taxpayer-paid county jobs.

Longtime Walker aide Timothy D. Russell pleaded guilty Nov. 29 to stealing more than $21,000 in Operation Freedom money. He was sentenced to two years in prison in January. Kelly Rindfleisch, who worked for Walker in the county executive’s office in 2010, was sentenced Nov. 19 to six months in jail for campaign fundraising at the courthouse using a secret email system installed there.

Democratic Party officials were still critical of the Republican governor, even though he was not charged in the probe.

"That Scott Walker avoided prosecution is no feather in his cap," Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said. "He clearly was connected to criminal activity and he spent a half million dollars, through his unprecedented criminal defense fund, to waylay charges. The crimes convicted flow directly from Scott Walker’s belief that he is above the law."



MADISON, Wis. — A judge has rejected the state of Wisconsin’s request to put on hold his earlier ruling striking down large portions of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious collective bargaining law.

Dane County District Judge Juan Colas on Monday released his ruling rejecting the request for a stay.

Colas in September ruled the law stripping most public workers of nearly all their union rights violates teachers and local government workers’ free speech, free association and equal protection rights.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had asked for a stay while he appeals. 

h/t: Huffington Post

Suck it, Walker!

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled Friday that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says he is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.

h/t: Yahoo! News

Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Cullen has reconciled with the Democratic caucus and Majority Leader Mark Miller, after Cullen bolted the caucus earlier this week in a dispute over thecommittee chairmanships.

Cullen will co-chair a Special Committee on Mining, and chair a new Committee on Small Business and Venture Capital.

h/t: TPM LiveWire

Wisconsin held a series of recall elections over the course of a year, giving voters a chance to decide whether they approved of one-party rule by Governor Scott Walker and his anti-labor Republicans.

For most of the national media, the only story that mattered—at least the only story they’ve bothered to tell—is that of Walker’s victory. Thanks to a massive infusion of our-of-state cash, the governor retained his office—albeit by the narrowest re-elect margin for a Republican governor since 1968.

But Wisconsinites always knew there was more to the story of the fight to check and balance Walker. And, this week, they successfully completed the critical struggle, ending the governor’s complete control of state government.

From his election in 2010, Walker controlled not just the executive branch but, for all intents and purposes, the legislative branch. A pair of loyal Republican lieutenants, brothers Jeff and Scott Fitzgerald, made sure that the governor’s wish was their command—with Jeff Fitzgerald running the state Assembly as its speaker and Scott Fitzgerald running the state Senate as its majority leader.

Without the Fitzgerald brothers, Walker could not have advanced his agenda.

When Walker was elected, Republican control of both chambers seemed to be assured for the whole of his first two years. That was particularly true in the powerful state Senate, where the GOP held a wide 19-14 advantage. The only power the Democrats had was that of withdrawing consent by leaving the state, as the fourteen dissenters did when Walker began moving to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees.

On June 5, Walker won the governor’s race. But one of his steadiest backers, state Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, finished roughly 800 votes behind Democratic challenger John Lehman.

Lehman, a former legislator with a progressive, strongly pro-labor record, campaigned as a firm foe of Walker’s agenda. And national right-wing groups such as the Koch brothers–funded Americans for Prosperity operation did everything in their power to beat him. They even organized a massive final rally in southeastern Wisconsin’s 21st district, featuring House Budget Committee chair (and conservative icon) Paul Ryan.

Even after Lehman won, the Republicans fought to prevent him from taking his seat, with an extended recount fight, threats of legal actions and a smear campaign suggesting that his victory (in a district with a substantial minority population) resulted from “voting irregularities” in African-American and Hispanic precincts of the historically Democratic city of Racine.

For a time it seemed the GOP would do anything to prevent Walker from losing his iron grip on state government.

Ultimately, however, Lehman prevailed. And, on Tuesday, after he was seated, control of the Senate formally shifted to the Democrats, with progressive Mark Miller taking over from Scott Fitzgerald as majority leader and Fred Risser, the longest-serving legislator in the country and a progressive stalwart, taking over as Senate president.

H/T: John Nichols at The Nation

More than a month after his Wisconsin recall election, Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard has conceded his race — sort of.

Wanggaard still believes voter fraud was a factor in the race, which gave Democrats a majority in the chamber — a small consolation prize after the party failed to oust Gov. Scott Walker.

“Unfortunately, I only have 5 days from the end of the recount to develop a case to challenge the count of the election,” Wanggaard said in a statement Tuesday. “This is not enough time to fully investigate the mountains of evidence and answer the questions that have arisen.”

Wanggaard comes close to a concession: “The count of the ballots — those cast appropriately and those that may not have been — shows my opponent with more votes.”

After the votes were first fully canvassed, Wanggaard lost to Democratic former state Sen. John Lehman, in a rematch from 2010 for the Racine-based seat. Wanggaard demanded a recount, which narrowed Lehman’s lead to 819 votes.

Wanggaard said he will run for the seat again in 2014: “As General Douglas MacArthur once said, ‘I shall return.’”

Republicans have charged that fraud contributed to Lehman’s win, but have not provided any clear evidence.

Lehman’s win lifts Democrats to a 17-16 majority in the state Senate. The legislature is out of regular session for the year. Half of the chamber is up for re-election in November, when Democrats will have to play defense on a new map drawn by Republican lawmakers.

h/t: Eric Kleefeld at TPM

Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard requested a recount Friday in his Wisconsin recall race, after the final canvassed results showed him losing in last week’s election to former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman, in a rematch of their 2010 race.

Lehman leads by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 cast in the Racine-based district, a margin of 1.2 percent. The apparent win gives Democrats a new 17-16 majority in the state Senate — a symbolic silver lining for the party after its failure to unseat Gov. Scott Walker the same night.

The legislature is out of regular session for the year. Half of the chamber is up for reelection this November, when Democrats will have to play defense on a new map drawn by Republican lawmakers.

h/t: Eric Kleefeld at TPM

After saying President Barack Obama does not care about the private sector, Mitt Romney on Friday dismissed unemployment in the public sector, saying the country does not need more firemen, policemen or teachers.

"He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers," Romneysaid at a press conference. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

h/t: Huffington Post

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker held onto his job with a typical Republican campaign built on trickery, wildly dishonest messaging and a massive budget courtesy of a handful of ideologically like-minded sugar daddies from out-of-state (according to Mother Jones, about two-thirds of Walker’s donations came from outside the Badger State, compared with just around a quarter of his opponent’s).

In the aftermath of the vote, conservatives, proving typically magnanimous in victory, spun the results like a top. They claimed the outcome spelled doom for Obama this fall, marked the death of the labor movement and was a pure reflection of voters’ love for Scott Walker’s economy-crushing austerity policies.

“This is what democracy looks like,” Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch crowed after hanging on to her job. “Public sector unions are over,” rejoiced libertarian blogger Radley Balko on Twitter. The Breitbart kids, furthering a standard-issue conservative lie about unions, happily reported that, “Walker won 36% of Wisconsin’s union households, which isn’t surprising, considering how workers reacted when emancipated from forced dues.” (By law, nobody can be forced to pay union dues – workers in union shops can only be compelled to pay the direct costs of representing them.)

1. Wisconsinites Just Didn’t Like the Idea of Recalling a Sitting Governor

An honest reading of the published exit poll leads to an important conclusion about Walker’s victory that has little to do with unions, Walker’s policies, the economy or any of the other factors that have pundits’ tongues wagging.

Fully 70 percent of those voters polled believed that recall elections are either never appropriate (10 percent) or are only appropriate in the case of official misconduct (60 percent).

The governor won 72 percent of this group. And it’s worth noting that a third of those voters who said “official misconduct” is a good reason to recall a governor voted to oust Walker, who has seen six of his staffers charged with 15 felonies in the “John Doe” probe.

While Walker himself has not yet been charged, reports suggest that the investigation is circling closer to him.

2. Wealthy Wisconsinites Voted Their Self-Interest

Also belying the spin that this was a referendum on public sector unions is the fact that the wealthiest fifth of the population – the people who have benefitted directly from Scott Walker’s tax cuts (passed during a supposed “fiscal crisis”) and probably worry too much about the social safety net he has ripped apart – made all the difference in the race.

Scott Walker and Tom Barrett were tied among the 80 percent of Wisconsin voters who make less than $100,000 (Walker got 50.2% of the vote, but the poll has a 4-point margin of error). Among the 20 percent who make $100 grand or more, Walker trounced Barrett, 63-37.

3. About Those Union Households

Did unions fail to turn out the vote? No, a third of the electorate belonged to a “union household” – the biggest share in any gubernatorial or presidential race since 2004.

But much has been made about the fact that Walker won 38 percent among that group. It’s a sad reality, but a little too much is being made of it, when you dig into the numbers. As the Washington Post noted, union members voted overwhelmingly for Barrett – by a 71-29 margin. But members of “union households” who don’t belong to a union only supported Barret by a 51-48 margin – not enough to make a difference.

That means that people who have a family member who belongs to a union didn’t feel their loved ones were under attack. Which brings us to…

4. How Could it Be a Referendum on Union Rights When Nobody Ran on Union Rights?

A slim majority of voters approved of Walker stripping the rights of public sector unions. But a final nail in the coffin for the narrative that Walker won on that issue is the simple fact that Barrett chose not to campaign on it. In fact, Barrett touted the fact that he wasn’t labor’s first choice (unions had backed Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, whom Barrett defeated in a primary) and bragged on the campaign trail about how he had been a tough negotiator with public employee unions as mayor of Milwaukee. He presented himself as the centrist who can “make tough choices” – basically parroting the case that Walker made in 2010.

That may have been a huge tactical error – hindsight is 50/50 – but it is the case, and suggesting that this election was all about Walker’s union-busting is simply divorced from the reality of the campaign.

5. This Is What Plutocracy Looks Like

It’s not accurate to say that money made all the difference in this race. The two candidates, facing off for the second time in two years, were both well-known by the electorate and the overwhelming majority of voters had made up their minds before the battle commenced.

But it’s also a mistake to dismiss the Walker camp’s ability to outspend their opponents by a 10 to 1 margin. According to the National Journal, the result was that “Walker and his Republican allies have outspent Democrat Tom Barrett and supportive groups more than 3-1 on TV ad buys during the three months leading up to the June 5 recall election.” This is likely the new normal in the age ofCitizens United.

6. Very Little Changed From 2010, Except the Number of Voters

Pundits have to blather about what a big contest means, but the reality is that there wasn’t much difference between this contest and the last one between the two men in 2010.

7. A Wisconsin Race That Tells Us Virtually Nothing About November

Immediately after the vote, CNN’s John King wondered whether Wisconsin, a pretty solidly “blue” state, should be moved from the “lean Obama” category to “up for grabs.” Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said Walker’s win “helps to put Wisconsin in play.”

8. Don’t Forget 2011

None of this is to suggest that Tuesday wasn’t a painful defeat for the forces of progress in Wisconsin. It was. But much of the coverage has focused on Tuesday’s races in isolation, and that’s a mistake.

The picture looks a lot rosier when one considers the entire 16 months Scott Walker has been in office. Since Walker’s draconian union-busting measure passed, Democrats have collected the scalps of four sitting state senators, flipping the upper chamber to their control.

Three Democrats defended themselves against Republican recall efforts in 2011, while defeating two of their opponents. Then, back in March, another Republican targeted for recall, Pam Galloway, abruptly resigned, leaving the senate evenly split between the two parties. At the time, she said she was stepping down to deal with “family issues,” but it was widely believed that she didn’t have the desire to face a tough recall fight.

Then, on Tuesday, Democrat John Lehman appears to have picked up a senate seat in Racine County, swinging the chamber to Democratic control (there may be a recount, but he has a fairly solid lead of around 800 votes). 

h/t: Joshua Holland at AlterNet


Political pundits will spend the next few days and weeks analyzing the Wisconsin recall election, examining exit polls, spilling lots of ink over how different demographic groups — income, race, religious, union membership, gender, party affiliation, independents, liberals/conservatives/moderates, etc — voted on Tuesday.

But the real winner in Wisconsin on Tuesday was not Gov. Scott Walker, but Big Money. And the real loser was not Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, but democracy.

Walker’s Republican campaign outspent Barrett’s Democratic campaign by $30.5 million to $4 million — that’s a 7.5 to 1 advantage. Another way of saying this is that of the $34.5 million spent on their campaigns, Walker spend 88% of the money.

Walker beat Barrett by 1,316,989 votes to 1,145,190 votes — 53% to 46% (with 1% going to an independent candidate).

Here’s another way of saying that: Walker spent $23 for each vote he received, while Barrett spent only $3.47 per vote.

Last night, as it became clear the political machine Scott Walker has built in Wisconsin will remain, even if he ends up in jail, Sarah Palin took to the airwaves on Fox News to deliver the glad tidings of austerity and union-busting. She was ‘interviewed’ by fellow Fox employee and sister-in-arms in the War on Knowledge, Greta Van Sustren, wherein they both maintained the fiction that Sarah Palin is qualified to discuss anything more complicated than thermal underwear.

From the 06.05.2012 edition of FNC’s On The Record with Greta Van Susteren:

h/t: Don Hamel at

Three Republican state senators survived their recall elections Tuesday, but one Democrat has declared victory in the fourth recall race. If the election results are certified, the win would give Democrats a majority in the state Senate.

Unofficial results show former state Sen. John Lehman of Racine defeated state Sen. Van Wanggaard by about 800 votes. Lehman’s victory would put him back in the seat after Wanggaard ousted him in 2010. 

h/t: TPM LiveWire