Wisconsin recall post-mortems


Some post-mortem chatter on last night’s 4-2 decision in favor of the GOP in Wisconsin.

Says Rick Ungar of Forbes: “While there is no question that the drive to pick up seats via the recall elections, staged in decidedly Republican districts, was a difficult undertaking — and there is some reason for Democrats to celebrate having won two seats in these GOP areas — there is no spinning out of the truth of this election. The loss was both hard and significant on a number of levels. Had the election been influenced by a low voter turnout — something that typically bodes ill for Democrats — that would have been put a different face on the story. But the turnout was spectacular.  And, based on the results, Republicans were every bit as energized as Democrats. GOP supporters had the backs of their sitting Senators, coming to the polls in big numbers to deliver the message that they too are as engaged and energized in the battle taking place in Wisconsin as the progressives and that is precisely what should have those who oppose the conservative agenda — in Wisconsin and throughout the nation — shaking in their boots.”

At The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza says: “[E]ven the most loyal labor defenders acknowledged that the goal from the moment that Walker pushed a bill stripping public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights in March until yesterday’s election was to take back the state Senate. And, close doesn’t count in politics. It’s the second major electoral setback for organized labor in the last two years; unions spent millions to knock off Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in a 2010 Democratic primary but came up short. ‘The unmistakable lesson is that every time labor makes it about labor, they lose,’ said one senior Democratic strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly. ‘It’s a messenger problem.’ ” So, what? Less labor and more middle-class taxpayers? Is that a difference with a distinction?

The Post’s conservative reporter/blogger, Jennifer Rubin says, “[L]et’s take Tuesday night’s results as a big ole mandate from the people of Wisconsin. The Democrats and organized labor lost four of six races, failing to grab the majority in the state senate. … Unions played a huge role for Democrats by spending vast sums of money on advertising, and supplying manpower in all the Senate districts. Conservative groups have parried with their own influx of cash. Next week Republicans can win back some lost ground when recall elections will be held for two Democrats who fled the state to deny a quorum on the collective bargaining legislation. The results were predictable. Democrats cried about voting ‘irregularities.’ ”

Michael Paarlberg in The Guardian writes: “[U]nions had set their sights low from the outset, and so a symbolic victory was the most they had in mind. Much was made about the amount spent: at least $35m by groups on both sides. It wasn’t necessarily a bad strategy. Politically, unions know they can’t compete with business groups on a national level, despite their sometimes contradictory stances on campaign finance policy. (One memorable reversal came when the AFL-CIO issued an amicus brief in support of Citizens United, the US supreme court decision that lifted restrictions on corporate — and union — campaign spending, then denounced the ruling as a corporate giveaway.) So, when several governors decided to blame public employees for their own inability to balance their budgets, unions dumped their money where they knew it would go the farthest: at the state and local level. And while labour groups have long been a reliable ATM for the Democrats in presidential elections, in state elections, they are less bound by partisan loyalties. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the country’s most politically active labour group, has given $750,000 to the Republican Governors’ Association over the years, including $100,000 in the 2010 election cycle.”

At The Wall Street Journal, Matthew Payne writes: “John Hogan of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the results were ‘a huge victory’ for the GOP. ‘Voters gave us a mandate last fall …They backed us up again (Tuesday). Voters told us loud and clear, ‘Stay the course. Things are working.’ “ Nor were the results driven by a small number of motivated Wisconsinites showing up at the polls. Turnout for the recall election was more than 43%, approaching the nearly 50% turnout for the gubernatorial election last fall. This spring, the battle cry of the pro-union protesters in Madison became, ‘This is what democracy looks like.’ But the results show that voters are no longer willing to be bullied into accepting union demands.”

The Economist says: “Republicans seem to be making some headway in their effort to spin the outcome as a big victory. That is a stretch: two Republicans who had managed to hang on in 2008, in what most would have imagined was the high-water mark for Democrats for years to come, lost their seats. If Democrats were to do better than in 2008 in next year’s elections, the most creative Republican would struggle to paint that as good news. Yet the Democrats’ claim that Wisconsinites of all stripes are up in arms at the conduct of Republicans in the state legislature is also looking rather threadbare. Turnout, although very high for a special election, was about the same as last year and considerably lower than in 2008. One of the two new senators squeaked in by barely 1,000 votes. That’s nothing to be sniffed at, but hardly a groundswell of outrage. The biggest silliness, however, is in trying to extract predictions about next year’s elections from the strange goings-on in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites do not even know what it means for their state, let alone the country.”

In other news, The Miami Herald offers a guest editorial from Marilyn Werber Serafini, a fellow at Kaiser Health, on the topic of T-Paw’s plans for national health care … based on what he did here in Minnesota. She says: “Pawlenty, who was governor from 2003 to 2010, boasts that he ‘passed health care reform the right way. No mandates. No takeovers. If I could do it in Minnesota, we could do it in Washington.’ While Romney and Obama were adding millions of uninsured people to a broken health care system, Pawlenty says, he was getting to the root of the biggest problem: costs. Critics, though, argue that it’s too early to know whether the Minnesota law will lower costs and noted that it does little to expand insurance coverage. Others complain that while Pawlenty signed the law, he didn’t show much leadership in getting it passed. Former Sen. Dave Durenberger, R-Minn., who first got to know Pawlenty when he was Durenberger’s driver, said it was Democratic legislators — not Pawlenty — who led the charge on the state law. ‘You have to put a priority on changing things,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to provide leadership. He never did that.’ ” But he had the courage to watch.

With a rumor that the San Diego Chargers are going to move up the coast to L.A., the AP is reporting: “Vikings owner Zygi Wilf says Minnesota football fans shouldn’t be nervous about progress by developers seeking to build a new stadium in Los Angeles. Wilf says the Vikings ‘have momentum here’ for a project in Arden Hills, the suburb north of Minneapolis where the team wants to put a new stadium. Wilf joined Ramsey County officials after the team’s practice in Mankato on Wednesday in touting the project. The group trying to build in Los Angeles was granted a City Council endorsement Tuesday.”

That chupacabra by Alexandria? A “freak of nature” badger … the experts “think.” Says KSAX-TV: “KSAX contacted [retired U of M-Morris prof Dave] Hoppe, who designed and taught classes on vertebrate classification while at U.M.M., and visited the Glenwood office Tuesday to examine the carcass and give his expert opinion. Hoppe measured the size of the animal in relation to its tail, and examined its teeth, claws and legs, and said he’s 95 percent sure it’s a young badger, but said it’s more difficult to know how it got to its current, hairless condition. “’f you’ve got some fully formed hair, it’s more likely that the rest of the hair was there and fell out, than that just in a few places, a fully formed patch would grow. That’s why I like the mange hypothesis,’ Hoppe said. Hoppe said the large amount of parasites likely contributed to the animal’s hair loss and its lighter color could be due to extended periods spent in the sun. ‘It’s probably emaciated. It hasn’t had a good meal in a long time. So, I thinks that’s part of the misshapen (carcass).’ Hoppe could not rule out deformities or abnormalities with the creature and said it’s no surprise that it’s gained so much interest. ‘We’re impressed with the freaks of nature,’ he said. ‘I’ve got a shelf over at UMM that has all kinds of different freaks that people have brought in over the years; a two-headed pig, a two-headed turtle, a snake with no scales … The interest people have in that which might be abnormal is normal in itself.’ ”  I see a new series of sci-fi thrillers, beginning with … “The Mange Hypothesis.”

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Bruce Leier on 08/10/2011 - 03:52 pm.

    WI recall elections are not over. There were 9 petitions successfully filed. 7 elections have been held. 4 went to Rebublican; 3 to Democrats. There are 2 to go. Let’s see what the final tally is, eh? People are going to get whiplash from all the spinning!

  2. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 08/10/2011 - 04:36 pm.

    I remember one TV commercial for the Harsdorf/Moore race showing Moore, a school teacher, shouting into a microphone, “We…breathe…union!” Moore came off rather repulsive. It appeared she cared more for her union, than she did for her students. I thought it was a huge mistake to run a campaign based on public employee union demands. I bet Moore regretted having her pro-union speech recorded. It appears the majority of voters in Wisconsin agreed with me.

  3. Submitted by will lynott on 08/10/2011 - 07:14 pm.

    #2, people band together for all kinds of reasons. That’s where credit unions, electric cooperatives, employee-owned businesses, the PTA, AARP, the Grange, and the Farmers Union came from. Unions are no different, in that they result from the realization that an individual can accomplish little, but “all of us is a lot smarter and more effective that one of us.”

    It seems that this lesson must be learned, forgotten, and relearned again and again, almost as if Midwesterners are pathetically ignorant of their own history.

    Do you happen to like no-work weekends? Unions bled so you could have that. Or are you one of those suckers who think that “doing the weekend bit at the office” will make your corporate masters (who don’t give a rip about you) see in you such promise that they will someday give you a big raise and a promotion?

    Do you have a paid vacation, and paid holidays? Take it from me, it’s REALLY nice to get away for a few weeks without having to miss a paycheck and/or worry whether you’ll have a job to come back to, and it’s unions that made that possible. If you don’t have that, my sympathies, and my expressed hope that your anti-union beliefs will keep you warm instead as you labor for a corporate hierarchy that DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU.

    Do you believe in the 8-hour day, or are you one of those unfortunates whose workday, by your consent, is at the mercy of your corporate benefactors?

    These things are all possible (for some of us) because people banded together so individuals would not have to face their corporate masters alone. During the union heyday, the middle class prospered as never before, next year was always going to be better if you were willing to work, and there was a sense of community that was based on the notion that we were all in this together. You and your ilk want us to live or die based solely on individual efforts, never seeming to realize that there are things that must be done, but simply cannot be managed successfully by people on their own.

    There is nothing immoral, unethical, illegal, or otherwise pejorative, about people taking strength from their collective collaboration and cooperation, and the realization that they were not alone. In fact, quite the opposite. The unions arose because of terrible abuses, and they were successful because they stuck together. If people have lost sight of the legacy bequeathed to them by our forebears who had nothing left to lose and therefore were willing sacrifice everything for the hope of a better life for their families, that’s their loss, and I don’t envy them the rude awakening that awaits them when they realize that those who “have theirs” will not give a damn about those who don’t–and never will.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Oh, BTW, I’ve seen Ms Moore up close and personal, and believe you me, she is ANYTHING but “repulsive.” Eat your heart out.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/10/2011 - 09:33 pm.

    Rosalind, interesting point about Moore, now the question: Evidently the add was not flattering. Why aren’t all the news organizations up in arms as they are with, I want Sharia Law with a Christian Twist, MB on Newsweek’s cover?

  5. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 08/11/2011 - 07:52 am.

    I always love people like Rosalind, who classifies Moore as a teacher who cares more about her union than her students, while blindly ignoring her own misguided belief that Big Biz cares more about creating jobs than earning profits. Ros, maybe someday you’ll be unemployed. Then we’ll see if you “regret” your romance with Corporate America. Especially since you supported rolling up the unemployment safety net.

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