Scott Walker Survives Recall Election In Wisconsin

A contentious political battle that has lasted a year has come to an end.

After a year of political battles over reforms to state law regrading public employee unions and fights over recall elections,  Scott Walker has become the first American Governor to survive a Recall Election:

Scott Walker, the embattled Republican governor of Wisconsin, survived a recall vote on Tuesday, based on early returns and exit polls, defeating a union-led effort to remove him from office for pushing laws to restrict the collective bargaining rights of state workers.

The state’s labor movement had marshaled widespread anger earlier this year to force a recall vote just two years into Mr. Walker’s four-year term. Democrats collected close to one million signatures in the petition drive to oust him.

That effort led to the closely-watched rematch between Mr. Walker and the Democratic opponent he beat in 2010, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee. In the voting Tuesday, Mr. Walker once again bested Mr. Barrett for the state’s top job.

The results were a victory for the national Republican Party and conservative groups from around the country, which had rallied behind Mr. Walker with tens of millions of dollars. Mr. Walker will now complete his term.

And they were a blow to the labor movement and Democrats, who had sought to link Mr. Walker to a conservative movement that they said is hostile to workers rights.

But the red-hot frustration among workers that led to the recall appeared to subside over recent months as the race between Mr. Walker and Mr. Barrett became less about unions and more about the general economic mood of the country.

Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, campaigned for their party nominee in Wisconsin in the final weeks, prompting speculation that neither wanted to assume the risks of a loss.

Given the returns that are coming in tonight, it’s fairly clear that this wasn’t even a close matter. Walker, and his Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, survived their recall elections quite handily. Still undetermined as of tonight are the fate of four Wisconsin State Senate seats that were also up for recall. However, given the fact that the Wisconsin legislature is officially out of session for the year and the State Senate is up for re-election, it’s unclear what the results for those four seats tonight will actually mean.

Based on the returns we’re seeing at the time this post is being written, it would appear that Walker is winning the recall vote by a wider margin by a wider margin than he won his election as Governor in 2010. This is somewhat surprising given the fact that, all day, reports on the ground were indicating that turnout in areas like Milwaukee and Madison, which presumably would be friendly territory for Walker’s opponent Thomas Barrett, were fairly high. Indeed, at one point in the afternoon, a comment from a voting official in Madison reported that turnout was at 119%.  Initially, that might sound like a nutty comment, but it’s worth remembering that Wisconsin is one of the state’s that has same-day voter registration, meaning that someone can register to vote on the day of an election. With news like that, it wasn’t long before many on the right started talking about voter fraud. Those of us who look at politics through a rational lens, meanwhile, were wondering if it meant that there was an anti-Walker surge that polling had not detected.

As it turned out that was not true. Walker will stay in office, as will his Lieutenant Governor. There will be many conclusions that people will try to draw from this result, including perhaps yours truly, but in the end what this really ought to mean is that the Wisconsin political battle is over. Governor Walker’s reforms were controversial and they set off a political battle in the State of Wisconsin and around the nation. However, at least as far as Wisconsin is concerned, the debate seems to be over.

In his victory speech tonight, Governor Walker was both victorious and conciliatory, and he sent signals that he wishes to reach out to both sides of the legislative aisle to do the business that Wisconsin needs to be done. Obviously, there will be political battles in the future, but it strikes me that the people of the Badger State have come to the point where it’s time to bury the hatchet. And, perhaps, that’s true of all of us.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dodd says:

    Survives?!?

    Rocketed into the stratosphere, more like.

  2. jan says:

    Walker won the recall. But, it was the people of WI who stood up to the public unions of their state, who were taking them down, fiscally. They deserve kudos for their ability to chose over the bull horns that roamed around Milwaukee blaring to go out and vote for Barrett. The tactics of the dems were embarrassing. This is a good day for the people.

  3. jan says:

    View from Ward 177

    Corruption failed.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Yeah… ‘survived’ is a bit stingy. As of 00:17, with 93.7% of the votes counted, he’s got a 9-pont margin.

  5. JKB says:

    Well, reports were that they were so overwhelmed with same day registrations that the workers couldn’t verify the person’s eligibility before giving them a ballot. So had the race been close, it would be ugly. Might still, some would demand a recount until their candidate wins.

    It would/will be interesting to see a study of those who same day registered and their actual eligibility.

  6. mattb says:

    As I wrote in the other thread, despite any ideological leanings I might have, I think this is the best result and will hopefully discourage Republicans and Democrats alike from initiating similar recall efforts in the future.

    In reading the coverage, I did come across one poll that complicates the story a bit:

    Early Wisconsin recall exit polls: 60 percent say recalls are only for official misconduct
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57447919-503544/early-wisconsin-recall-exit-polls-60-percent-say-recalls-are-only-for-official-misconduct/?tag=pop;stories

    Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters in today’s recall election say recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct, according to early CBS News exit polls. Twenty-eight percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while nine percent think they are never appropriate.

    This is something worth following and I hope and suspect that more polling will come out on this in the weeks and months to come. There is a real possibility that a number of Democrats and left leaning independents truly saw the recall effort as an over reach, and voted accordingly.

    Part of the reason that this could be important (beyond potentially repudiating these sorts of recall efforts) is that it could be an indication that Walker’s win had a lot to do with frustration around the recall, rather than direct support of Walker’s policies.

    That’s something to keep in mind when you hear people citing this as proof that the country is turning against Democratic/Liberal policies and the president.

  7. Trumwill says:

    @mattb: Alex Knapp tweeted that 17% of Walker voters intend to vote for Obama.

  8. mattb says:

    @Trumwill: Not particularly surprising — and for me, at least, somewhat heartening.

    I don’t live in Minnesota (Chicago was as close as I got) and I didn’t have a pony in this game. That said, like Doug, I think recall elections are problematic from a policy/governing standpoint. Barring criminal dealings (to which there are typically guidelines in state constitutions), I tend to be of the “you break it, you bought it” school of thought.

    On the snaky side, I hope that most of our conservative friends who have been so concerned about “over reach” will still be concerned about it should Obama win the election, as I expect that calls for his impeachment will start to come in prior to the inauguration.

  9. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    It’s possible that the real story in this matter comes in however many years it is until Walker faces reelection. If in two or three (whatever) years he is voted out of office, what’s the story? People are happy now but not happy later?

  10. Robert Levine says:

    Then there’s the little matter of the John Doe investgation, of course… It’s hard to believe that 13 of Walker’s senior aides when he was Milwaukee County Executive have been given immunity in a criminal investigation without the guy at the top of the chain being a target of the investigation. But we’ll find out one way or another down the road.

    I hope there’s some analysis down the road of just why the pre-election polls and the exit polls all got this one so wrong.

    Wasn’t it H. L. Mencken who wrote that “democracy is the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it – good and hard”? A very wise man, whoever he was.
    .

  11. al-Ameda says:

    This is the lesson?

    Obviously, there will be political battles in the future, but it strikes me that the people of the Badger State have come to the point where it’s time to bury the hatchet.

    I think people will be waiting for another opportunity to place the hatchet.

  12. Trumwill says:

    @Robert Levine:

    Then there’s the little matter of the John Doe investgation, of course… It’s hard to believe that 13 of Walker’s senior aides when he was Milwaukee County Executive have been given immunity in a criminal investigation without the guy at the top of the chain being a target of the investigation. But we’ll find out one way or another down the road.

    Maybe when they get down to the truth of the matter, they can initiate a recall.

  13. G.A. says:

    Then there’s the little matter of the John Doe investigation, of course… It’s hard to believe that 13 of Walker’s senior aides when he was Milwaukee County Executive have been given immunity in a criminal investigation without the guy at the top of the chain being a target of the investigation. But we’ll find out one way or another down the road

    Walker called for the investigation.Who leaked all this information is what we need to find out one way or another.

    Without the leaks Barret would have had nothing to run on.

    Sad thing is it looks like I might be getting a draft dogging uber neo marxist who supports murdering 7 month old babies for a State senator because my city is full of idiots.

    Still gonna be a great day for the State and it’s future, and for the idea of a representative republic, and for the TEA PARTY!!!!!!!

  14. G.A. says:

    I think people will be waiting for another opportunity to place the hatchet.

    Hey….

    http://twitchy.com/2012/06/06/kill-scott-walker-angry-libs-flood-twitter-with-death-threats-after-wisconsin-recall-defeat/

  15. rodney dill says:

    @jan:

    the people of WI who stood up to the public unions of their state, who were taking them down, fiscally.

    While I agree this may have been necessary, and I actually hope we accomplish something similar in Michigan, (Already underway with Snyder), I consider it likely that the pendulum will swing too far. I’m seeing some indications of that already in Michigan where school districts that aren’t in financial distress are planning to take advantage of their employees due to eliminating collective bargaining rights.

  16. Eric Florack says:

    Dodd:

    Exactly. CNN meanwhile, is was trying to cast this as a “narrow” victory.

    Q Why did the leftie cry himself to sleep?
    A He can’t recall.

    Now…. you are going to doubtless hear that the reason Walker won is that the leftist cabal of the Unions, the Democrat party, and the socialists, were outspent. Funny how they only have problems with money in politics when they lose.

    Funny too, how they never mention that until the left gave up trying to buy the voters in WI, they were outspending the GOP nearly two to one. It’s easier fr them to suggest that they were outspent, than it is to say that their ideas were rejected….they went “all in” on this, even accusing Walker of fathering a “love child” and still lost. It’s over for the unions, people. And it’s about time.

  17. superdestroyer says:

    Think about how the David Axelrod is looking at the state of politics in the U.S.

    This morning. A once reliably blue state failed to recall a Republican. Of course this is a state that is 90% white and the Republicans managed to only get 53% of the vote.

    Yet, in California, where the unemployment rate is higher, the state finances are worse, and the economy is in bad shape, the Democrats have coasts to big wins in most elections. Of course, California is only 45% white.

    The Democratic Party strategist have to realize that the best way to win more elections is to change the demographics of the U.S. and to bury middle class whites under a demographic avalanche. If the Democrats can get the rest of the U.S. to the demographics of current day California, the unions will be able to get what they want, spending will be much higher, and the private sector will be smaller.

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @Eric Florack: Certainly the private sector unions are circling the drain and have been for quite some time. Shit, it’s reached the point where the Teamsters, et al., not only lose organizing elections at the likes of big box retail and at major hotel chains, etc., they don’t get close enough even to attempt to steal them.

    I’m not so certain, however, that we can start writing the obituaries for the public sector unions. Believe you me, I want to, vert much so, but still I view them like a hunter views a cornered animal. Granted, it nearly boggles the mind that in such a union friendly state as WI the AFSCME/SEIU was not able to get even within shouting distance of ousting the bane of their existence, despite throwing in everything including the kitchen sink. They did, however, in Ohio successfully roll back Kasich’s reform package. They’re still disturbingly strong here in California, although ironically enough even “Moonbeam” Brown has figured out they have to be cut down to size and he’s proceeding accordingly (without any intense media coverage, of course).

    I’ve already written the eulogy for the private sector unions. Which is as follows: “Good riddance.” For the public sector unions, however, I think we’ll need to see a few more catastrophic losses for them, especially in union strongholds, before we can break out the proverbial crocodile tears. An Obama defeat obviously would help. Another dozen or so Wisconsin-style reform packages across the country would be quite welcome, thank you much. Hopefully in 10 years or so we’ll be able to discuss the unions in the past tense.

  19. Stan says:

    This is a great moment for private sector employers in Wisconsin. No more competition for workers from public organizations, with their pension and health benefits and their collective bargaining rights. And when the big push comes in a year or so to make Wisconsin a right to work state, like the billionaire lady in Beloit wants, the public employee unions will probably be too weak and too disgruntled to protest. It’s another victory for the race to the bottom folks. I can see why Doug and Eric Florack are so happy.

  20. Stan says:

    @Stan: And it’s a good day also for the aptly named Tsar Nick. I remember the happy summer days of my youth in Wisconsin, working next to my high school music teacher unloading trucks at the canning company and worrying about him getting a heart attack, seeing my advanced algebra teacher delivering milk, and eating hot dogs at the A&W stand run by my football coach. It’s wonderful to really stick it to those workers.

  21. grumpy realist says:

    Well, Wisconsin has stated what it wants. It shouldn’t be surprised if the top teachers start leaving for greener pastures that appreciate them more.

    Ditto for the US. Any state that kicks back against this “screw the teachers” movement will have its pick of top-quality teachers, with the attendant knock-on effects of being able to attract people who want to make certain they have good schools for their children.

  22. Eric Florack says:

    When does supposably type to just start leaving, you’re going to find it the educational Environment, particularly test scores, are going to improve dramatically.

    And what excuses will the left be making at that point I wonder question

  23. al-Ameda says:

    @G.A.:

    Yes, as is the case in Republican circles, there will be no ‘forgive and forget’.

  24. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I know it’s a trifle but, Walker raised $30M from out of state, and Barrett about $4M.

    Also, thanks for the most preposterous, yet funny, line of the day:

    you’re going to find it the educational Environment, particularly test scores, are going to improve dramatically.

    Also, Walker is going to find a cure for both ovarian and pancreatic cancer too.

  25. rodney dill says:

    @grumpy realist:

    if the top teachers start leaving for greener pastures that appreciate them more.

    Oh really… So they’re going to run off to other states that still have teacher unions. Where they will be starting at the bottom (assuming the don’t need reacreditation) behind lesser skilled teachers due to the unions that they so crave.

    Of course they could head to (non-union) professional jobs where they will have to compete for compensation, have to pay for part of their healthcare, and won’t have unlimited retirement benefits.

    Sounds like it works nicely to me.

  26. Drew says:

    Lefty desperation from behind the cheddar curtain. You gotta love it.

  27. al-Ameda says:

    @rodney dill:

    have unlimited retirement benefits.

    Teachers do not … repeat … do not … have unlimited retirement benefits.

    In terms of public retirement costs, sworn police and firefighter are the ones with by far thee most costly retirement plans. Most police and firefighters have plans that allow them to retire at at age 50 or 55 with pay that is over 70% of their final salary. Those retirement plans are gold-lated.

  28. rodney dill says:

    @Drew:

    behind the cheddar curtain

    Love the phrasing.

  29. Eric Florack says:

    I know it’s a trifle but, Walker raised $30M from out of state, and Barrett about $4M.

    Sorry, no sale. You’re not including the money invested by the unions which doesn’t get counted.
    They went all in, and they still lost.

    Also, Walker is going to find a cure for both ovarian and pancreatic cancer too

    Just getting rid of the unions will be quite enough of a miracle..

    Oh really… So they’re going to run off to other states that still have teacher unions. Where they will be starting at the bottom (assuming the don’t need reacreditation) behind lesser skilled teachers due to the unions that they so crave.

    And for how long? The trend now will continue to be the government unions shrinking. Where are they going to go, hmmm?

  30. G.A. says:

    Lefty desperation from behind the cheddar curtain. You gotta love it

    Winner!!!!

  31. Rob says:

    Actually if you research the facts your governer spent the surplus he had in the budget on tax breaks and corporate giveaways to the wealthy. Then he balanced that deficit on the backs of those government workers you working class hero republicans hate so much. Soon it will be you and your pay that gets cut. When the state becomes a right to work state you will see an average salary in the low 30s for everyone. I know I live in a right to work state, Arizona. So your day is coming and you have nobody to blame but yourselves.

  32. Eric Florack says:

    @al-Ameda: well, that’s what happens sometimes when you dictate while driving. its hands free, but sometimes the noise in the vehicle makes it a little difficult for the machine to work right

  33. Eric Florack says:

    Rob, perhaps you didn’t notce the jobs that have been created in Wisconsin…. the graph of the thing goes straight up. How long do you plan to remain in denial?