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Four senators survive recall, barely keeping GOP control

MORNING EDITION

Wisconsin’s recall elections Tuesday left the Republicans in control of the state Senate — just barely at 17 to 16. The Wisconsin State Journal says that four GOP senators avoided recall. Two didn't: Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper, he of the allleged “25 year-old mistress.”

Incumbent Sheila Harsdorf, over the river in Hudson, was one of the first winners in Tuesday’s recall elections. Mike Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes: “In the Senate District 10 recall race, Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf easily beat Democratic challenger Shelly Moore. Harsdorf had originally been identified as one of the Republicans relatively vulnerable to being ousted in a recall, but poll numbers in recent days had shown her comfortably ahead of Moore, who was making her first run for public office.”

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey wrote Tuesday: “Strange things can happen in special elections. Generally speaking, the victory usually goes to the side with the largest organization, although as the election between David Prosser and Joann Kloppenburg proved in April, that’s not always the case. Unions have that advantage, and while the debate focused solely on the bargaining-rights reform for [public employee unions] they had the passion and the momentum, too. Having the terms of the election broadened doesn’t do Democrats or unions much good. The fight today now mainly reflects the same debate Wisconsin voters had just before they booted Democrats from control of the state government. Its prior focus on the supposedly radical nature of the new Governor left Democrats vulnerable to stories about his success, such as last night’s news about the millions of dollars Scott Walker’s law will save Milwaukee. Nationalizing the election will have voters looking at the performance of Democrats in Washington on the economy, especially the downgrade of US Treasuries by S&P and the contrast in direction taken by Republicans in Madison toward fiscal sanity and responsibility.”

Oh, great. Anthrax. Maura Lerner of the Strib reports: “The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating an ‘extremely rare’ case of inhaled anthrax, but officials said Tuesday there is no threat to the public. The patient, who was not identified, was hospitalized in Minnesota after traveling through Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas, where anthrax spores occur in the environment. The infectious agent probably came from natural sources, and there is no evidence of a link to terrorism, according to a Health Department statement released Tuesday. Nevertheless, the FBI joined in the investigation because anthrax can be used as a bioterrorism agent.”

The Strib’s Jill Burcum  comes to the defense of Michele Bachmann over that Newsweek cover. “Bachmann’s eyes are open wider than normal — just for the record, I’ve had portrait photographers tell me to do the same — her smile is forced, and her chin tilted unnaturally upward. The photo isn’t just unflattering. It goes way beyond that, making the three-term Congresswoman look unbalanced. It’s the kind of photo you expect to see in a political attack ad, not on the cover of a mainstream news magazine. And that’s the issue here. Bachmann’s politics unquestionably are suspect. This page has criticized her numerous times, most recently for her reckless position against lifting the debt ceiling. But running a cover photo that makes her look like a loon — and not the nice Minnesota state bird — crosses a line, especially for a once-venerable news institution like Newsweek.” Newsweek is, of course, playing a different game these days.

Tom Scheck of MPR notes organizing beginning for Minnesota’s gay marriage referendum next year: “The Minnesota Family Council sent an e-mail to supporters today encouraging them to volunteer to help pass a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriage. Minnesota Family Council CEO John Helmberger said in the e-mail that the group would include the Minnesota Family Council, the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the National Organization for Marriage. ... Helmberger also said the media ‘[are] overwhelmingly against the amendment and they slant news coverage to make it seem as if we are going to lose’ and suggested that they would be outspent by opponents of the amendment.”

134 mph … juuuuuust a little over the limit. Paul Walsh of the Strib reports on a Minnesota guy who got nailed for the state’s highest speed: “David M. Fust, 23, of Appleton, Minn., was cited for an early-morning July 31 incident in which he allegedly sped, with a revoked license, past a squad car and accelerated, a friend told authorities, to perhaps 160 mph before crashing on railroad tracks. ... According to police and the criminal complaint against Fust, Benson police were alerted about 2:45 a.m. about a white sports car racing its way from Starbuck. The car roared southbound on Hwy. 29 just north of Benson, passing officer Nancy Dosdall. She wheeled around her squad car and gave chase.
That's when Fust turned off his headlights and pushed the accelerator even harder, registering 134 mph on Dosdall's radar gun in a stretch where the speed limit is 55 mph.”

For-profit colleges, with their unflattering rates of loan default and post-graduate hiring, are resisting federal attempts at accountability. Tim Post of MPR reports: “For many college graduates, gainful employment might mean simply landing a job after finishing school. But the federal government has a different definition in mind. The new gainful employment rule instituted by the U.S. Department of Education this summer aims to ensure graduates from for-profit colleges make enough money to pay off their tuition bills. For-profit colleges in Minnesota and across the country are working to overturn the rule, which would require them to prove their students will find good jobs after they graduate and won't be saddled with too much debt.” But being saddled with crushing school debt is part of the American dream, I thought?

Joy Powell of the Strib has the story of two south metro cops just trying to enjoy their breakfast: “Two top cops in Dakota County got back to their roots Saturday, putting aside their bacon and eggs to nab a busboy suspected of cocaine possession at their favorite restaurant. Lakeville Police Chief Tom Vonhof and Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows work out together and then grab a quick breakfast at the Perkins on Hwy. 61 most weekends, keeping up a friendship formed as rookie Lakeville cops more than 30 years ago. According to a criminal complaint filed in Dakota County District Court on Tuesday, Don Gudmundson, the retired Dakota County sheriff and former Lakeville police chief, was just leaving the table he had shared with Bellows and Vonhof when a worker approached the table. ‘Hypothetically,’ the worker asked the two surprised lawmen, what could a restaurant do if one employee showed drugs to another employee?”                            

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Comments (10)

"The fight today now mainly reflects the same debate Wisconsin voters had just before they booted Democrats from control of the state government."

The democrats' dilemma was that they couldn't win an election with an argument that the public employee unions deserved more power. They had no choice but to change the subject and "republicans cut the budget" wasn't a winning argument.

And weren't these six districts cherry-picked because the democrats figured they had the best chance to win in those?

What are the odds we see Minnpost cover the two Dems that are being recalled next week? Zero. No Glean report from the firefighters that RT fired yesterday either. I'm interest to know how they feel about the three bike walk ambassadors that Mayor feels are a higher priority than the fire department.

Once again proving that Democrats are a hugely ineffective party. Comments like Dennis's above reflect the way Dems and Unions have allowed the other side to frame the debate. "Unions deserving more power?" That's nothing but Tea Party propaganda.

All unions wanted to do was hold their own. Instead of arguing that pitting public vs. private workers is ALSO class warfare, that unions and public pensions aren't the problem in this economy and that eliminating public workers from the ranks of the middle class only assures that the ENTIRE middle class is under attack, Dems went with arguments from the past that have zero resonance today.

Dennis #1,

The 6 GOP senators and 3 Democrat Senators were picked, not because they were easy targets, but because they were eligible for recall. Wisconsin law only allows recall elections against sitting legislators who have served more than 1 year in office. All of the freshmen Senators are not eligible for recall until they have completed 1 year in office. This is why the Democrats could not do a recall against Governor Walker.

It seems like there's been very little coverage of the DOJ suit against Education Management over claims that they systematically and over many, many years illegally paid recruiting incentives to bolster their student count.

The suit by for-profit educators to block the new law has gotten more press, but the effort to claw back huge amounts of money, and expose the ugly money-grubbing underbelly of for-profit colleges is pretty interesting stuff.

I find your quote from Morrissey on "last night’s news about the millions of dollars Scott Walker’s law will save Milwaukee" interesting. Aside from the questionable timing of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (which has its own history of union busting), it also seems suspect for the local MSM to simply report Walker's version of it, giving Walker credit for "fiscal prudence" when the victims of his "prudence" are bleeding on the ER floor. It's little wonder the Republicans survived the recall when the state's largest newspaper parrots the party's propaganda on the evening before the election.

Which brings up another little gleaning: Strib comes to Bachmann's defense. When has the Strib not protected and defended Bachmann? Of course, I can see why. Newsweek and The New Yorker both reported things about Bachmann in plain view which the Strib should have reported ten years ago. The Strib is going to complain: it makes that paper look very bad.

Jill Burcom should try reading City Pages once in a while. Newsweek released the outtakes from that photo session and CP shared them. Bachmann has the same wild-eyed look in EVERY photo.

Frankly, I blame bad makeup/eyeliner for making her look different, but her 1000-mile stare has been commented on before by many others.

I'm no fan of Bachmann, but I hardly think ones needs to question the motives of the Strib (#6) in coming to her defense here. Newsweek's cover photo was utterly ridiculous. There are many, many examples of her past actions and statements one can use to demonstrate how truly frightening the prospect of a President Michele Bachmann would be, as far-fetched as that scenario may seem.

Newsweek's use of that photo was a hack move cooked up by Tina Brown to sell magazines at the expense of whatever credibility Newsweek may have had. Pathetic.

#8 Josh: I' sure you're right that Tina Brown deliberately chose that photo. But a "hack move"? Maybe the lame explanation about how t was chosen. But the picture speaks the utter truth.

On Wisconsin!

Oh, and what is "Newsweek"?