Note: This newspaper column by RightWisconsin Editor James Wigderson first appeared in the Waukesha Freeman on June 7, 2012, and was written immediately following the news Governor Scott Walker won the recall election with 53 percent of the vote.
Walker’s logic overpowered unions’ clenched fist
More residents stood with Walker than in 2010 election
It was an incredible election night for Republicans as the margin of victory for Gov. Scott Walker exceeded the expectations of the last polls and even his margin of victory in 2010. It’s a victory that will not only have a short-term effect of ending the recalls but could have the long-term effect of putting the state in play in the presidential election.
Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Mahlon Mitchell told the assembled Democrats at their election night party that Tuesday night’s defeat was not the end. Somebody should have spoken to Mitchell before his speech and said, “scoreboard.”
Looking at a map of Wisconsin with the various counties shaded red for Republican and blue for Democratic Blue Recall Fist, Wisconsinites all over the state overwhelmingly rejected the fist.
There is an African proverb, “No fist is big enough to hide the sky.” It’s been a favorite of mine ever since the protesters in Madison, the public employee unions and the Democrats adopted the blue fist as their symbol. For one evening Wisconsin voters under a clear sky saw clearly enough that the recall madness had to end.
No more clenched fist. It’s over, finally. Walker has won.
Democrats, pending a possible recount in Racine, may have taken back the state Senate. However, the Democrats will have a temporary hold on the district as the new lines make it very likely that a Republican will win it back.
Redistricting also makes it very likely that Republicans will pick up the two seats needed to win back the majority, and they could pick up even more in November. Given how late it is in the political season, the Democrats’ temporary control is a matter of “no harm, no foul.”
What is important to consider though is how much the Walker agenda has been vindicated throughout the recall process.
First the Democrats couldn’t even nominate a candidate that was completely opposed to Walker’s Act 10 collective bargaining reforms. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett actually used the reforms to balance his city budget, even as he lamented the reforms did not go far enough by excluding police and firefighters.
Then Democratic spokesman Graeme Zielinski told Mother Jones magazine that the collective bargaining issue would not move any voters. So the Democrats tried an issue-free relentless attack on Walker’s ethics and the John Doe investigation.
Finally, there was the total defeat of Barrett by a wider margin than in 2010, and it was in an election with more voter turnout than in 2010. For all of the union and protester bluster, it turns out Wisconsin is ready to make real fiscal reforms.
It’s plain that the Act 10 reforms in Wisconsin are here to stay, at least for a while. Walker’s strong showing means that legislators and governors elsewhere will be emboldened to take on the biggest fiscal issues confronting those states.
The recall fight also had one other effect that is already causing national Democrats concern. Republicans created an infrastructure in Wisconsin unlike anything that has been set up before for winning elections.
From the grass roots of the tea party movements to the party establishment to the various special interests that make up the conservative coalition, they all played a role in reelecting Walker as governor of Wisconsin. Now that Republicans know how to win in Wisconsin, there’s a real chance that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may decide to make Wisconsin a key state in his electoral strategy.
As Wisconsin native and current Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, if the Democrats lose Wisconsin, it’s game over.
A Republican operative told me Tuesday night that Romney should seize the momentum of the Walker victory by planning on spending the whole upcoming weekend here, if possible. Romney should take the issue of fiscal responsibility in the place of its most recent and famous victory.
Wisconsinites will want to finally relax by finally avoiding politics for a little while. The whole state is suffering from recall fatigue and could use the break.
But it will be a short break. The Republican Senate primary election campaign is already under way and Wisconsin’s voters will have to be ready again in August and Eric Hovde is already running television commercials again.