Scott Walker Recall Election Puts Wisconsin, Its Governor In Spotlight
AP/The Huffington Post
MADISON, Wis. — Wis. Gov. Scott Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall vote.
The effort to remove him from office began last year, when the Republican governor released a plan that called on public workers to give up nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in an effort to control the state budget. Protests as large as 100,000 swelled at the state Capitol, but despite the outcry, the bill was signed into law.
Since then, Walker has remained a rising national star while fighting the recall campaign at home. If he prevails in the recall, he will retain his seat until 2014. If he loses, he will be required to quickly leave office.
Keep up with our coverage of the recall election on our Wisconsin live blog:
Tripp Wellde, State Director for OFA-Wisconsin, issued the following statement on the outcome of the contest:
"While tonight’s outcome was not what we had hoped for – no one can dispute the strong message sent to Governor Walker. Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites from all walks of life took a stand against the politics of division and against the flood of secret and corporate money spent on behalf of Scott Walker, which amounted to a massive spending gap of more than million to million. It is a testament to all of those individuals who talked to their friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the stakes in this election of how close this contest was. The power of Wisconsin’s progressive, grassroots tradition was clearly on display throughout the run up to this election and we will continue to work together to ensure a brighter future for Wisconsin’s middle class. This vision was shared by the voters tonight, as exit polling showed President Obama beating Mitt Romney 52-43, a 9-point difference. On the questions of who would do a better job on the economy and who would help the middle class the most, President Obama again held a strong advantage over Romney. These data points clearly demonstrate a very steep pathway for Mitt Romney to recover in the state."
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued the following statement on the outcome of the recall contest:
"Despite the disappointing outcome of tonight’s election, there is no question that over the past year this recall effort sent a message to Scott Walker that his brand of divisive politics is offensive and wrong. Thousands of Wisconsinites mounted this effort in the face of a flood of out of state, secret and corporate special interest money– amounting to a massive million war chest for Governor Walker to just million on our side.
"I want to thank Mayor Barrett, our other candidates on the ballot tonight and all the passionate, dedicated individuals on the ground who held conversations with their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about the stakes of this election. The Badger State’s progressive, grassroots tradition was on full display throughout this election, and it will remain front and center as we continue our important work to move Wisconsin forward for working families across the state as we head toward November."
"And as we turn our attention to the fall, we will not cede an inch in Wisconsin to Mitt Romney who has been behind in virtually every single recent poll and who wants to go back to the same failed policies of the past from which Wisconsin is recovering. And while we're not taking anything for granted, if Mitt Romney thinks he's going to be the first Republican to win Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan he's got another thing coming."
AFL-CIO's President Richard Trumka, who is likely to face a host of tough questions about both political strategy and the state of organized labor in the wake of Scott Walker's recall win, released the following statement on Tuesday night.
Tonight working families across the country recognize the courageous journey that nurses, teachers, firefighters, snowplow drivers and other Wisconsinites led for more than a year. Though a seemingly impossible task, they refused to allow their voices be taken away by an overreaching and partisan governor. Whether it was standing in the snow, sleeping in the Capitol, knocking on doors or simply casting a vote, we admire the heart and soul everyone poured into this effort. Adding to this gargantuan challenge of recalling only the third governor in American history was the flood of secret corporate cash distorting our democracy – a dangerous example of a post-Citizens United America.
We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people. Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies. It’s time to work together to forge a new path forward. The challenge to solve a generation of economic policies and create an economy that celebrates hard work over a partisan agenda gained momentum today.
The question for Trumka and other union leaders is how, exactly, to motivate members after coming up short in the highest-profiled contest.
Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin's recall election has granted conservatives the chance to gloat about a number of things; none more so than the political demise of organized labor. A top Mitt Romney adviser in Florida did just that over Twitter, in terms that might be a bit strong for the presidential candidate.
The popularity of labor unions has diminished over years, and their political influence has waned. But there doesn't seem, on the surface, to be all that much upside to being openly hostile to organized labor. Romney certainly understood that when he was running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002.
President Obama did all he could to avoid association with what his team clearly saw as a looming disaster. But the Republican National Committee brushed right past Obama's futile attempt moments after the election was called. Said a spokeswoman:
[A]fter Obama surrogates Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the Wisconsin recall election a “dry run” for November and Bill Clinton called the election “America’s battleground,” it’s clear Chicago is nervous about their chances in Wisconsin for the general election. One thing is also clear, President Obama has now been rejected by Wisconsin voters in every single election since he was elected in 2008 and tonight Wisconsin voters made crystal clear they are happy with Republican leadership. The RNC is ready to transition from our efforts to help Scott Walker into beating President Obama in Wisconsin in November.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin offered congratulations to Scott Walker Tuesday evening, blasting union "thug" leadership for what she depicted as a misguided effort to trick their members into supporting policies of bigger government.
"Perhaps it's those union leaders that need to be recalled and replaced," Palin told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. "Wisconsin voters are sick and tired of the division that has been called by the radical left."
Palin thanked Walker for "embracing austerity and fiscal responsibility," saying that it stood as a stark contrast to the policies President Barack Obama promotes.
"Fiscal responsibility and austerity measures are the solution," Palin said. Obama "and his message have lost in Wisconsin."
Asked if she felt at all bad for Tom Barrett following his loss, Palin, who herself was defeated on a much grander scale almost four years ago, said no.
"Not an ounce of sympathy or empathy for someone was trying to fool the public into growing government was the solution to our nation's challenges."
The Wisconsin recall always represented fertile ground for the presidential candidate of the party that prevailed, and dangerous terrain for the candidate whose party didn't. That's why President Barack Obama offered nothing more than a tweet and an email in support of Mayor Tom Barrett. And it's why Mitt Romney didn't exactly barnstorm across the state for Gov. Scott Walker before the vote.
It's also why, in the wake of all the networks calling the race for Walker, the Romney campaign was quick out of the gate with a statement, the contents of which are below.
I congratulate Scott Walker on his victory in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington, D.C. Tonight’s results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin. Governor Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back -– and prevail -– against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses. Tonight voters said ‘no’ to the tired, liberal ideas of yesterday, and ‘yes’ to fiscal responsibility and a new direction. I look forward to working with Governor Walker to help build a better, brighter future for all Americans.
The question now: Will the Obama campaign make a statement?