Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recall Mania

I probably shouldn't be surprised given the NW's strong words for Randy Hopper last week, but the paper came out and endorsed Jessica King today. Anyone who thinks these recalls are anything other than a referendum on Scott Walker would do well to read it:

Gov. Scott Walker ran on a platform of asking government workers to pay a greater share of their health and pension costs. He told the editorial board in late October he would accomplish that through tough negotiations with union leaders, contrasting concessions with the need for large-scale layoffs of workers without cost savings. We think asking workers to contribute a greater share of costs was fair and justified, but disagree with the steps the governor took in February. In fact, when we endorsed Walker, we cautioned: "Walker's ultimate success as governor will depend greatly on his ability to work constructively with state employees. He must not fall into the trap of demonizing state workers."

Just days before Walker introduced his budget repair bill, we warned the governor about exercising the "nuclear option" of outlawing collective bargaining. The governor took that step without holding a single negotiating session with unions. Furthermore, the rollbacks enacted by the Legislature amid the drumbeat of protesters contain provisions that seriously undermine the ability of unions to collect dues and remain certified. Those steps, like others, were not taken to balance a budget, but to cripple the political opposition and guarantee Republican majorities for a generation. Consider what's happened since the recall drives were initiated, including:

» Drafting legislative and Congressional re-districting maps in secret that favor Republicans and passing the new boundaries and procedures to change the process in less than two weeks with a single public hearing.

» Rolling out a statewide expansion of private and religious school vouchers following a speech by Walker to a special interest group in Washington.

» Eroding local control of local governments and school districts with blanket restrictions on property tax rates.

» Passing a budget that gradually reduces taxes on agriculture and manufacturing profits to near zero while increasing taxes on the poor and seniors through the Earned Income and Homestead taxes.

» An ill-advised plan to break up the UW System and later in the state budget cutting $800 million from K-12 education, reducing aid to the Technical College System and maintaining large tuition increases at public university campuses across the state.

» Restricting women's access to health care and capping enrollments in BadgerCare, a health insurance program for the poor.

These are all measures championed by Hopper, who sat on the powerful Joint Finance Committee. Hopper's seat is one of three needed to switch to give Democrats a majority in the senate.
So far as I've been able to look, which admittedly hasn't been all that far, the NW is the first paper to wade into recall endorsements. They explain their rationale for doing so here. I thought most papers would let the recalls slide and still don't plan on hearing much from any others before Tuesday.

It's hard to say what's going to happen on Tuesday, especially up here in the 18th district. The last poll had King up by about 10 points (but take that with a grain of salt, since I sure as hell have never seen the polling company's product vetted publicly before). There were canvassers for We Are Wisconsin criss-crossing the city all weekend (they were hard to miss in the bright red shirts), but I'm reticent to put too much faith in an organization that's basically a ad hoc committee in charge of spending a ton of cash donated in a collective fit of pique. On the other hand, if this election is to be decided by Christian Schneider-penned lap dances at NRO, then King is done for (though Schnieder's latest still doesn't hold a candle to this piece of hagiographic dreck).

Aside from yard signs, I haven't seen much activity from Hopper in Oshkosh. I actually did see him at Waterfest several weeks ago. He was accompanied by a pudgy dude in what may have been penny loafers and khaki shorts who was thumbing through a Blackberry incessantly. I assume that was his campaign manager.

Then there's the mail ... all that fucking mail. It genuinely feels like I've gotten more campaign literature in the mail this time around than any other election season I can remember -- including presidential ones. Now that might be something of an exaggeration, but there's just a ton of it. And it's all really big -- like 10" x 14" -- and glossy and colorful and expensive looking. I don't have the pathological loathing for negative mailings that most people do, but even I have my limits.

The biggest surprise, however, has been the utter lack of TV ads for this race. I haven't seen one from either campaign and only a smattering of anti-Hopper ads from third parties, and nothing in several weeks (the Olsen/Clark race is another story). Ditto radio. It'd be nice to think that it will all be over on Wednesday, but the unfortunate state of affairs is that it will just be beginning.

So gird your loins and get ready for a long night.

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