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‘Dirty tricks’ robo-calling reported in final hours of Wisconsin recall

Much more on recall vote; Target “union store” closes for remodeling; new poll shows public shift on marriage amendment; and more.

Politico’s Mackenzie Weinger writes: “Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said his campaign is contacting Wisconsin residents to counter reports of a robo-call that says anyone who signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t have to vote in Tuesday’s election. Barrett, the Democrat challenging the Republican governor, said he has recorded a robo-call of his own telling people that signing a petition wasn’t enough and that they do have to cast a ballot, reported. There have been a number of reports of Wisconsin residents receiving calls saying that their signature on the recall petition counts as their vote. ‘I recorded a robo-call telling people, yes, you do have to do that, and we’ll be sending that to people who signed the recall petition so they know they do have to vote,’ Barrett said at a campaign event Monday night.” Who among us expected anything less?

At Salon, Josh Eidelson writes:Last night I talked to a Wisconsin voter who says she received just such a robo-call. Carol Gibbons told me she picked up the phone and heard a male voice saying “thank you for taking this call,” and that “if you signed the recall petition, you did not have to vote because that would be your vote.” After hearing the vote-suppressing message, said Gibbons, “I wanted to take the phone and throw it in the middle of the road.” Gibbons is a retired public employee and a staunch Walker opponent. If he wins the recall, she warned, “He’s going to roll over us like pieces of dirt. He’s going to say, ‘They voted for me twice — I can do whatever I want.’ ” (I received Gibbons’ contact info from a volunteer who had called her as part of MoveOn’s virtual GOTV phonebank.) … Reached over e-mail, Walker spokesperson Ciara Matthews didn’t question the existence of the calls, but accused Barrett’s campaign of falsely blaming her candidate: ‘Any accusation that our campaign is making those calls is categorically false and unfounded. Once again Mayor Barrett and his campaign are trying to falsely attack Governor Walker with absolutely no evidence. This is a desperate move by Mayor Barrett to avoid addressing his lack of a plan to create jobs in Wisconsin.’ ”

In other words … there has been no making nice in the final hours of the Wisconsin recall fight. At The Atlantic, Molly Ball writes: “As the Wisconsin recall came down to its final, furious days, the fight between Gov. Scott Walker and the man who would oust him from power, Democrat Tom Barrett, took a personal turn. Forget Walker’s rammed-through collective bargaining bill that set this whole thing in motion 16 months ago; in the final debate between the two candidates, Barrett accused Walker of dirty tactics for airing a crime-themed ad he compared to the notorious ‘Willie Horton’ spot — and then he all but called Walker a crook. … Walker’s opponents have pushed to tie an ongoing scandal involving former Walker aides to the governor. … If both these issues seem like sideshows compared to what the recall is supposed to be about — a referendum on Walker, his agenda, and his style of governance — that’s because views of Walker appear deeply entrenched among the Wisconsin electorate. … So both sides are reaching for novel arguments — and working to turn out the vote. On Tuesday night, the long-running battle for Walker’s job will finally have a victor.” Yeah,I’m sure things will settle down tomorrow …

At CNN, Alan Borsuk, a fellow at Marquette, looks at key factors in the vote and writes:

“2. The deep well of political anger. Wisconsin is a strong example of how people are pretty fed up, even as they go in almost equal numbers in opposite political directions. The economy, social hot-button issues, cultural issues, economic and racial dynamics — there are many sources of fuel for the feelings that divide Wisconsin. The demographics of the state make these close to 50-50 issues, but it’s worth pondering how similar the intensity of emotions are on each side of the divide. That anger won’t be relieved after Tuesday. …

4. The dominance of big money. The political wars here have been a remarkable boon to television station revenues. … It’s not just TV and radio. It’s daily mailings to hundreds of thousands of homes, extensive phone banking and robo-calling, and expensive get-out-the-vote efforts, which may prove be the decisive factor. …

5. The short supply of civility. … [T]he polarization of the state has been evident in round after round of polling, just as it is clear to anyone who observes the tenor of campaigning. There is little reason to think the intense and adamant approach to politics will abate after Tuesday. … Both the winners and losers Tuesday are almost sure to refuel for more fights ahead, not only at the polls.” In other words, buy Wisconsin TV stock.”

For the AP, Scott Bauer answers a few basic recall questions.

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“Q: Who’s footing the bill for the recall campaigns? Taxpayers? Or someone else?
A: There has been much ado about all the campaign money flowing into Wisconsin from out of state, and for good reason. The recall election has been unlike anything seen before in Wisconsin, with at least $62 million spent by the candidates and outside groups so far. Walker was the top spender at $29 million, with Democrats including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spending about $4 million. Outside groups have spent $21 million and issue ad groups that don’t have to disclose their spending have put in at least $7.5 million. That, of course, is donated money. Taxpayers are anything but off the hook. The recall and a primary for it are special elections that otherwise would not be held. State elections officials estimate the cost of a statewide election to taxpayers is $9 million, for a total of $18 million.
Q: How has the economy played into the campaign? What are the candidates pledging to do to create jobs?
A: The recall may have started over collective bargaining, but the overriding issue has become job creation. Walker promised in 2010 to create 250,000 jobs over four years and he is not on pace to meet that goal. How far afield he is depends on what set of numbers are used to measure his promise.”

The AP is also reporting heavy voter turnout — as was always expected. “Not all public workers voted against Walker. Retired state employee Jerry Darda, 73, of Madison said he voted for the governor because the recall was ‘ridiculous’ and that Walker should be able to finish his job. In a suburb north of Milwaukee, 72-year-old William Dixon, a self-employed woodworker, says he voted for Barrett out of disgust with Walker’s collective bargaining policies. Dixon says that asking public employees to pay more for their benefits is one thing, but taking away the right to bargain for wages is going too far.”

At Gawker, Hamilton Nolan is following the curiously long remodeling job Target has been doing on the one store that dared a union vote: “One interesting thing to know about Target’s Valley Stream store is this: it’s closed. For ‘a remodel,’ of course. Employees were informed in March that the store would shut down at the end of April and not reopen until mid-November. All ‘team members in good standing’ were offered the exciting chance to take an unpaid leave for those six months; they can also put in for a transfer to another store (if it happens to have open positions), or just be paid through June and say goodbye. The UFCW notes (and Target confirms) that only one other Target location in the country is being closed for a similar remodeling, and that one is being closed for a far shorter period of time. So, the only almost-unionized Target store is also the only store the company needed to shut down for seven months. Not suspicious at all.”

At Talking Points Memo, Tom Kludt looks at new polling on the GOP’s anti-gay marriage amendment: “Gay rights advocates might be poised for an electoral breakthrough in Minnesota, a new poll released Tuesday suggests. Voters there will decide in November the fate of a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. The poll, conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), shows 49 percent of Minnesota voters do not believe the state constitution should be amended to ensure legal recognition for only unions between a man and a woman. Forty-three percent of voters support the amendment. That marks a stark shift since PPP’s previous survey of Minnesota in January, when 48 percent of the state’s voters expressed support for the amendment. The latest survey also shows that 47 percent believe same-sex marriage should be legal, the same percentage of Minnesota voters who said it should be illegal in the January poll.” The bishops may need to take up more collections.

Do not forget the transit of Venus this afternoon. At MPR, Cathy Wurzer writes: “The planet Venus will pass directly between the Earth and the sun — a movement that will look like a black dot inching its way across the sun. The movement, known to astronomers as the Transit of Venus, will be visible in the skies above Minnesota from about 5 p.m. to sunset. It’s a rare event that won’t happen again until 2117. The spectacle has sparked Venus viewing parties at museums and schools around the world.”

Her guest, U of M astronomy professor Terry Jones, adds:

“[I]t was really something mostly internal to astronomers and the educated in Europe at the time. The reason why the transit of Venus historically is important is that we knew the relative distances of planets in the solar system from the sun. For instance, we knew Mars was one-and-a-half times further away from the sun than the earth, but we didn’t know what that distance actually was in miles. So the transit of Venus gives us a chance to actually measure what is the distance from the earth to the sun in units, like miles, and that’s why it was important, and that was predicted by several astronomers. But Edmond Halley, the astronomer who is known as being famous for having figured out Comet Halley, he’s the one who did the calculations and figured out when it was going to happen and what to do. He knew that it wouldn’t take place until after he died, but there was quite a bit of activity in 1761 and 1769 to observe transit of Venus, and that’s how we figured out how big the solar system is.”

And Jones notes safety concerns: “If you go out, you have to have the right equipment. Under no circumstances should you observe the sun straight with your eye or look through a telescope that isn’t properly guarded for that.”