Tuesday Reads: Wisconsin Recall Madness!

Good Morning!!

Today is the day of reckoning for Wisconsin. Voters will go to the polls today to decide the fate of Governor Scott Walker and five other Wisconsin Republicans: the Lieutenant Governor and four state senators. If the Democrats can win just one of those seats, they will regain the senate majority.

I think everyone here knows the genesis of this recall battle, but here’s a quick explainer from Chris Cillizza at the WaPo. Cillizza also speculates on possible surprising outcomes from the election.

Cillizza allows that Barrett could conceivably win and the Democrats could retake the senate–the latest poll by PPP had Walker leading by only 3 points, within the margin of error. The poll also suggested that Barrett had the momentum as of yesterday. On the other hand, InTrade had Walker’s chances at more than 90% late last night. The truth is no one really knows for sure, because the turnout and enthusiasm on each side will tell the tale. Cillizza, being a Villager, still thinks Walker will win, but thinks the Senate could switch.

When they filed petitions to recall Walker himself last fall, Democrats also filed papers to recall another four state senators — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Sens. Pam Galloway, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard, (Galloway resigned earlier this year; Republican state Rep. Jerry Petrowski is running for her seat.)

They need only win one race to take control.

Fitzgerald is likely safe given his heavily Republican district, although Lori Compas, his Democratic rival, has attracted a lot of media attention.

But Democrats are bullish on the races against Moulton and Wanggaard. Both districts went for President Obama in 2008; Wanggaard’s went narrowly for John Kerry in 2004. Whether Barrett wins or not, they expect to take back the state Senate.

Moulton faces former state Rep. Kristen Dexter; Wanggaard faces former state Sen. John Lehman (D). Outside groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides. State Rep. Donna Seidel (D) also has a shot at beating Petrowski; before Galloway the seat had gone Democratic for two decades.

Cillizza points out that if Barrett wins and the Democrats take the state senate and could get some of the Walker legislation overturned before another election could give the senate back to the Republicans. The other possibility, Cillizza mentions is that Democrats could defeat Walker’s Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, but that’s pretty unlikely. She’s leading in the polls at the moment.

The Seattle Times had a good article on Sunday about the national issues that are at stake in the election today.

Under fire for cutting budgets at the expense of public employees, Walker would be the third governor in U.S. history yanked from office in a recall election. Walker has an edge, but the race is close.

The campaign will mean more than who governs Wisconsin. It’s a test case of the larger clashes in American politics that are driving elections for the presidency and control of Congress, highlighting divisions over the costs of government.

With more than $30 million raised from conservative donors, many of them from other states, and visits from a who’s who of high-profile Republican governors (New Jersey’s Chris Christie, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell), Walker’s campaign to survive the recall has the feel, the money and the stakes of a national race.

The state vote is raising questions that will echo nationwide. Can a tough-minded conservative Republican force cuts in government at the risk of angering public-employees unions and win a swing state such as Wisconsin? Will voters think he’s doing the best he can in a tough time? Or will they rise in a grass-roots backlash against the well-financed Republican effort?

Admittedly, that article has a Republican flavor, but it does do a pretty good job of spelling out the issues. For a more left-wing perspective, here’s a lengthy piece at by Sarah Jaffe of Alternet: Wisconsin’s Recall Drama Down to Nail-Biting Finish.

Wisconsin’s recall is, as reporter John Nichols put it, the kind of “renegade politics” that are disdained by the national Democratic party and even some state Democrats. It is being driven by the same activists who turned out by the thousands to occupy their capitol when Governor Scott Walker attacked workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

Now, a day before the biggest recall yet—of Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators—the fight will be won or lost where it began: on the ground.

There’s a lot of big outside money pouring into Wisconsin, mostly to pump up Walker’s attempt to hang on to his seat, but the one thing that money can’t buy is an excited, driven grassroots movement. If Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett beats Walker on Tuesday, it will be because of thousands of volunteers getting out the vote person by person.

“This is really a case of Walker raising $13 million against possibly the most widespread grassroots get-out-the-vote effort in the state’s history,” Matt Reiter, co-president of the Teaching Assistants’ Association at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told AlterNet.

Please try to check that one out. It’s long, and very informative. John Nichols of The Nation (mentioned prominently in Jaffe’s piece) is Wisconsin native, and has written a book about the struggle in his home state. Here’s a piece Nichols wrote yesterday: How To Buy A Recall Election.

Governor Scott Walker is not trying to win the Wisconsin recall election that will be held June 5.

He is trying to buy it.

If the embattled governor does prevail, he will provide essential evidence not of his own appeal but of the power of money to define our politics.

On the other hand, if Walker is defeated, a template will have been developed for a people-power, message-power politics that might be able to challenge big money.

And there is no question that what is in play is very big money.

Read the gory details at the link.

At Salon, Josh Eidelson writes about the possible effects of some Wisconsin voters’ “resentment” of union workers on the recall outcome.

If Scott Walker survives tomorrow’s election, there will be plenty of reasons. Many people will point to his huge cash advantage, for good reason. But no factor will have been more important than the decades of decline in U.S. union membership.

“Unions had their place,” a woman named Jerri told me soon after I arrived in Wisconsin last week. “They did their part back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and then they got too big, and are abusing their power.” Jerri and her husband, Tim (both declined to give last names), were eating at a bar in Wauwatosa, the purple Milwaukee suburb that’s home to Scott Walker. They both work in sales: She’s in retail at the mall; he’s in wholesale, selling caskets. Tim said Walker’s union “reforms” were necessary because local politicians had been “looking out for the union” instead of “people like me.” He said unions are for people who don’t “feel they should have to work very hard.” Jerri complained that unions “are sucking off my teat.” Public workers’ benefits, she said, “should be the same as anybody in any kind of private job.”

That last statement is most telling. While resentment toward unions has grown since the 1950s, it’s not because they got too big. It’s because they got too small. A multi-decade drop in unionization left fewer Wisconsinites who are union members or live in union households. Meanwhile, because governments are less prone than businesses to terrorize workers or shut down facilities to avert unionization, public sector unionization has remained more stable. In 2009, for the first time, there were more total U.S. union members in government employment than in the entire private sector.

That one is pretty scary for those of us who care about quality education and public services.

The Wall Street Journal highlights the importance of turnout in the recall election.

Both sides say few voters remain undecided, after more than $63.5 million in political spending saturated the airwaves and clogged voters’ mailboxes. A weekend survey by the Democratic group Public Policy Polling found Mr. Walker holding a slight lead and only 3% of likely voters undecided. With few voters left to persuade, the main question is which side will win the turnout battle.

Labor groups and their allies knocked on more than 300,000 doors during the past few days and placed more than 400,000 phone calls, said Brian Weeks, the assistant political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Unions historically have had a strong ground game. But Republicans said they took a page from labor’s playbook and have developed a coordinated get-out-the-vote effort, which could also give the party a boost in the November presidential election, helping the GOP equal the Democrats’ election-day machinery.

Felicia Sonmez and Rachel Weiner of the WaPo write about the battle of “TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground.” They say that this election:

serves as a proxy for the national battle between Democrats’ much-touted ground organization and Republicans’ fundraising advantage.

With Walker ahead in the polls and leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) in the money race by more than 7 to 1 – and with GOP-aligned outside groups far outspending their counterparts across the aisle — Democrats maintain that their shot at victory depends on a far superior get-out-the-vote operation buoyed in large part by organized labor.

According to Monica Davey at the NYT,

About 60 to 65 percent of Wisconsin residents of voting age are expected to go to the polls on Tuesday, the state’s Government Accountability Board said. That would be a higher turnout than two years ago, when Mr. Walker and a wave of Republicans largely swept state and federal offices here, but not as high as the more than 69 percent turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama easily won the state.

Only time will tell. We’ll have a live blog this evening so we can follow the results together. Now I need you to let me know what else is in the news. I look forward to clicking on your links.

65 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Wisconsin Recall Madness!”

  1. northwestrain says:

    “Psychopaths in charge” says it all.

    I’m so tired of this crap.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    This recall will be a referendum on money. Who has it and where it is spent. It will have less to do with the voters but more about the loss of democracy when Citizens United can call the shots.

    The Dems are at a loss to keep up with the Money Machine and however Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation IMHO.

    Voter turnout is the key here but there may be more people like Jerri and her husband Tim who have come to view labor unions as the “enemy”. They have bought into the theory that unions are sucking this nation dry without considering that without collective bargaining workers will be mute in the face of owners who will strip the middle and working class of any rights to stand up to corporate interests.

    I am prepared to admit that nothing will surprise me when the outcome is announced. The 1% is in the business of “winning” and there are those more than willing to sell out their own self interests to satisfy the hunger of greedy ghouls whose bottom line is all that counts.

    • bostonboomer says:

      We’ll see. Maybe I’m totally naive, but I’m hopeful that boots on the ground will make a difference.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I’m in my “Black Irish” mood lately. Don’t mind me.

      • RalphB says:

        I sure hope that’s right. Successful politics depends on an engaged citizenry. Boots on the ground may be a lot harder but it’s worked in the past.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Keep in mind that, aside from the Governor’s race, there is a very good chance of the Democrats taking back the state senate.

      • bostonboomer says:

        No, that’s OK, Pat. I agree that there’s only an outside chance of Barrett winning. The problem is that there are very few undecided voters. But stranger things have happened, so I can’t help but hope.

        If Walker wins, he’ll still probably be indicted, so the battle won’t be over. If I lived in Wisconsin, I’d be pretty angry about all the outside money supporting Walker. Of course we have the same situation with Scott Brown here in MA, and he’ll probably still win.

      • Beata says:

        I am not optimistic about Barrett’s chances. I saw what happened to Dick Lugar in Indiana. The political situation here was different but the enormous amount of outside money that poured in to influence the race was not. Big Money got the candidate they wanted. Welcome to the “new normal” under Citizens United.

        I hope I am proven wrong tonight.

    • Allie says:

      The attitude toward public sector workers expressed by Jerri and Tim is short-sighted and mean-spirited IMO. We’ve all benefitted from private and public sector unions. With their decline we are already seeing workers’ rights stripped – stagnant wages, reduced vacation time, reduced benefits period. Nobody offers a pension plan anymore.

      What is wrong with these people??? They want everybody to have less?

      I say more power to ANYONE with a good paying job and good benefits.

      • dakinikat says:

        There is a real need for public work unions because the government has a monopoly on some job offerings like fire fighters, teachers, etc. It’s the only way to get a good wage. You can’t just pick up and move to a better employer in most cases unless you want to move out of state or the region. A lot of times your credentials won’t travel too.

  3. NW Luna says:

    The Seattle Times has some damn R editors for such a left-coast town.

  4. RalphB says:

    Where our tax dollars are spent. Both these telescopes are better than the Hubble and were just warehoused by the NRO. That NASA doesn’t even have the funding to use them is ridiculous.

    NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy

    The secretive government agency that flies spy satellites has made a stunning gift to NASA: two exquisite telescopes as big and powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope. They’ve never left the ground and are in storage in Rochester, N.Y.
    The telescopes were built by private contractors for the National Reconnaissance Office, one of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. The telescopes have 2.4-meter (7.9-foot) mirrors, just like the Hubble, but they have 100 times the field of view. Their structure is shorter and squatter.
    The new telescopes are “actually better than the Hubble. They’re the same size, but the optical design is such that you can put a broader set of instruments on the back,”

    Sorry for going so OT but this just popped my cork.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Nothing is OT in the morning post.

    • Allie says:

      Thanks for this info – I hadn’t seen it anywhere else! Fascinating…

    • The Rock says:

      You know what is crazy Ralph? Hubble was designed to look into deep space. That means the NRO had TWO spy satellites powerful enough to look into deep space that were to be trained on the earth. What kind of detail did big brother want to have on the pictures those telescopes would have been sending back to earth? Furthermore, those two sats are the ones the NRO didn’t use. What do they have up there right now?? Big brother is watching….

      We are SO f*&#ed…….

      Hillary 2012

      • RalphB says:

        If the Hubble were pointed at Earth, you could clearly read a dime sitting on top of the Washington Monument. These telescopes were built in the late 90s and early 2000s and are better than the Hubble. Go figure.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Holy sh&t!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Mike Leavitt’s position on Obamacare is more complex than it seems at first glance. He claims to want the whole bill repealed. Not sure why.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Republicans are calling Democratic voters and telling them if they signed the recall petition, they don’t need to vote. Quote:

    “If you signed the recall petition, your job is done and you don’t need to vote on Tuesday.”

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Now there’s a voter purge in Texas. Have you heard about this Ralph or Mona?

    • bostonboomer says:

      More than 1.5 million voters could be purged from Texas voter rolls, according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle. The newspaper warned Texans on Monday to keep an eye on their mail, so that voter registration cancellations do not go by unnoticed.

      One in 10 voters has already had their registration suspended in Texas. For voters under 30, that number doubles to one in five.

      The Secretary of State is required by law to regularly remove duplicates from the voter rolls and eliminate voters who moved out-of-state or died. But the process inevitably produces errors, and eligible voters can end up having their registration suspended. Between November 2008 to November 2010, more than 300,000 eligible voters were notified they could be removed from the voter rolls.

      The errors are compounded by “outdated computer programs, faulty procedures and voter responses to generic form letters, often resulting in the wrong people being sent cancellation notices,” the Houston Chronicle explained.

      • The Rock says:

        This is the second effort by the GOP to do that here. Congresswoman Ralph made some radio ads telling Houston voters that the attorney general fought the ID laws and found them unconstitutional. I have my voter registration card, but I only needed my DL to vote in last week’s primary. This new campaign is another attempt to decrease dem turnout. Couple that with the redistricting, general voter apathy, and a weak Dem party down here (at least in most of the major metropolitan areas as well as the rural farmland), the GOP will run Texas for quite some time.


        Hillary 2012

    • RalphB says:

      Haven’t seen a thing about it but I found this interesting. Collin County is the very Republican county just north of Dallas where I lived for close to 20 years. They probably tried to remove every Democrat and minority in the county. I would not be surprised.

      Approximately 21 percent of voters who received voter registration cancellation letters were able to prove they were eligible to vote, according an analysis of the latest U.S. Election Assistance Commission data. The percentage was troublingly high in Collin County, where 70 percent of those who received cancellation letters were able to prove they were eligible to vote.

      • dakinikat says:

        How on earth did you survive in Dallas?

      • RalphB says:

        Very carefully 🙂

        There were still quite a few native Democrats but we were badly outnumbered by tons of GOP transplants who moved in. In my entire neighborhood, I was the only native Texan. My neighborhood was just like Northern New Jersey, except for the climate.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Here’s some pictures from doctor daughter’s big fat bollywood wedding at the photographer’s blog if you’re interested…


    • The Rock says:

      The picture of the two of them dancing was my personal favorite. It looked likr to them, there was no one else in the room. May they live together in bliss for many many many many years 😀

      Hillary 2012

    • Beata says:

      Lovely pictures, Dak. Thank you for sharing them with us.

      I can see a resemblance to your mother’s picture in your daughter. Very beautiful.

      • dakinikat says:

        Thx. She resembles the moms. My youngest resembles the dads. They’re like salt n pepper. She was named Jean after my mom. My mom is Atha Jean but went by Jean. I’m Kathryn Jean. She’s Jean Elizabeth. Elizabeth was my mother’s sister and it’s my sister’s middle name. So, I guess I named her well. She is definitely off of my line of women.

    • RalphB says:

      Great set of pictures. Thanks for sharing. They are a lovely couple.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Beautiful photos! The one of them dancing is lovely.

    • Seriously says:

      Wow, those are amazing! I loved the pictures from the tent and the two black and white photos especially, but they’re all fantastic.

    • NW Luna says:

      Beautiful! Much happiness to all!

  9. dakinikat says:

    pretty funny …

  10. bostonboomer says:

    I’m listening to Ed Schultz and John Nichol who are in Wisconsin. The turnout is reportedly huge. Voters are calling in to report how many were at their polling places. Somehow they all know what number they were in line. So far, the vote totals are high by this time than they were in 2008!

    Nichols says he has never seen a turnout like this even in a presidential election. People are standing on street corners talking and people driving by are blowing horns. Turnout is high in Republican areas also though. Milwaukee is the key, for Democrats.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Wis. state officials announced that turnout is on track to reach 65-70 percent, per Ed Schultz.

    • RalphB says:

      That sounds like good news.

    • The Rock says:

      BB, you have been beating the drum here about the importance of voter turnout in this recall. Hopefully, that is what we are seeing. I don’t think that there has been an election where that was so critical an issue. It would seem that the voters in Wisconsin know exactly how significant this recall is. Lets just hope that by the end of the day, Walker’s chickens will be coming home to roost.

      Hillary 2012

      • bostonboomer says:

        I sure hope it’s good news. I just heard another caller say that at 11:30, there had been well over 1,000 voters at her polling place. The last time she voted, she was number 230 at around the same time.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    For unknown reasons, George Zimmerman’s attorneys have decided to delay asking for another bail hearing for at least two weeks.

    Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family suggests O’Mara may want to do some damage control before putting Zimmerman on the stand again. I guess he’ll have to be under oath when he explains himself to the judge.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Want to Find an Expert on “The War on Women?” Media Chooses Men

    It came from Dailykos, but the link goes to Alternet. Very interesting post.

    • northwestrain says:

      I didn’t even need to read the article — the blue pie chart says it all. Proof what what we all know is happening.

      The Patriarchy is scared sh*tless of women. We are the enemy to them. Yet the dumb jerks didn’t get here without a female.

  13. RalphB says:

    That Americans are this ignorant scares me. Of course, 58% of Republicans believe in creationism. One hopes Gallup is just wrong!

    In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins

    PRINCETON, NJ — Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

  14. dakinikat says:

    A US official says a drone strike in Pakistan has killed al Qaeda’s second-in-command: http://politi.co/KMLbuo Read more: http://politi.co/KaoIcv

    • bostonboomer says:

      I heard that. How many “second in command” guys have been murdered so far?

      • RalphB says:

        Every time one gets taken out, another guy gets promoted. Doesn’t end until no one is left.

      • northwestrain says:

        The children killed and the people killed at the funerals are probably also called “second” in command.

        Emptywheel and Glenn Greenwald are both writing about the huge over kill in order to take down one individual. Once that person is drone killed — then anyone who comes to help the victims is a target and they are killed and then the funeral is targeted and more are killed. There is the problem of gender discrimination, age discrimination and proximity to the target — everyone seems to be the target.

        Seems to be that a whole lot of people must really hate the USA — if they didn’t before — seeing the death of so many innocents .. . .

  15. NW Luna says:

    OT, but if you need some cosmic happenings to take your mind off mundane scumminess, check this out: The Astronomy Pic of the Day has a live image of the Sun from the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. It updates about every 15 minutes. Venus is a small black sphere transiting in front now!

  16. NW Luna says:

    OT, but if you need some cosmic happenings to take your mind off mundane scumminess, check this out:

    The Astronomy Pic of the Day has a live image of the Sun from the Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. It updates about every 15 minutes. Venus is a small black sphere transiting in front now!

  17. dakinikat says:

    Polls are supposed to close in about 5 minutes but there are still long lines.