Payback Time: Wisconsin Progressives & Labor Ready For Recall Elections
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Heading toward eight remaining recall elections, Wisconsin labor and Democrats gained critical momentum on July 19 as they scored an overwhelming 66-31 percent victory in Green Bay against GOP efforts to punish Democratic State Sen. Dave Hansen, a friend of labor. The remaining elections—called for after the GOP stripped public employees of virtually all bargaining rights this winter and activists occupied the Madison Capitol in protest—will be held August 9 (when six Republicans are up) and August 16 (when two other Democrats face recall efforts).
Over the past two months, Republicans’ claims to be guided solely by budgetary concerns and taxpayer needs have been tainted by their participation in a set of undemocratic measures, including partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts, and what Common Cause of Wisconsin director Jay Heck called “the most restrictive, blatantly partisan and ill-conceived voter identification legislation in the nation” (details on these measures below).
But labor and progressives feel encouraged by the most recent polls on the recall races, especially in the context of Gov. Walker’s 59-percent disapproval rating reported July 13. Daily Kos reported poll results last week:
Taken in concert with our last round of polling (conducted a month ago), PPP shows Democrats with a big lead in one race, narrow leads in two races, and trailing by five points or less in three races. In this newest batch, Democratic state Rep. Fred Clark has a small edge against Luther Olsen, which makes this race one of our three best pickup opportunities. Clark's own internal polling confirms this, showing him ahead as well (by an even larger margin).
In one of the hottest and most closely-watched recall elections (in a northern Milwaukee suburban area that includes many of the area’s super-rich as well as teachers and other public employees and an African-American neighborhood), Daily Kos noted that Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch is probably running a much tighter race than it first appears against GOP Senator Alberta Darling.
Darling formerly posed as a pro-choice “moderate” before guzzling the entire right-wing Kool-Aid pitcher to gain power as co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee which rammed though the Republcians' worst excesses.
As Daily Kos pointed out:
Yesterday on Kos there was a new new PPP [Public Policy Polling] poll for the WI recall election in Senate District 8 between Republican Alberta Darling and Democrat Sandy Pasch. It has Darling up 5 points with almost no undecideds. Since a recent Dem poll had Sandy up one, this is a disappointment. At least at first glance. However, a closer look reveals the same concerns that were raised with the previous PPP poll in SD 8. It appears that this poll also under-represents the strongest Pasch voters in the district: non-whites from the City of Milwaukee.
Moreover, while the polling result is among “likely voters,” the pro-labor, pro-Democratic side has displayed far more intensity in seeking to reverse the course of Wisconsin politics.
GOP'S UNPOPULAR BAGGAGE
Further, with the Republican-contrived primaries over (they recruited fellow Republicans to run against Democrats in order to delay and sow considerable confusion about recall process), the public can now focus on clear-cut choices between Democratic candidates with demonstrated followings and Republican senators whose reputations have been tarnished.
The Republican baggage includes:
- their extraordinary anti-union votes,
- their support for an exceptionally punitive budget toward local public education and services, and
- their collaboration with the most dictatorial procedures and anti-democratic legislation that the Wisconsin Legislature has witnessed in more than a century.
While the Republicans carry this weighty political baggage, “the Democrats have a muscular slate of primary winners (three state representatives, a former county executive, a former deputy mayor and a popular teacher) heading into the Aug. 9 recall races with the Republican senators,” as John Nichols of the Capital Times observed.