While the rest of the nation is focused on the Republican presidential primary, here in Wisconsin, we are thinking about another looming election: the recall election of Governor Scott Walker.
You probably remember Governor Walker from early 2011, when he pushed through legislation stripping public employees of their union rights, causing several Democrat state senators to flee to Illinois in an effort to stall a premature vote, and as many as 100,000 protesters to congregate and camp out in the state capitol. Ultimately, Walker prevailed. His legislation passed, and public employees, including teachers and police officers, lost their union rights.
If Governor Walker thought the people of Wisconsin would take this blow to workers’ rights lying down, he was sorely mistaken. When I moved back to Wisconsin after living in Florida for five years this August, recall elections were already underway for state senators, both those who voted for and against the union-busting legislation (in my district, the anti-union Republican was ousted). Now recall workers are collecting signatures to recall both Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch.
At th is point, the recall is inevitable. While the recall movement has yet to file their signatures, estimates have them clocking in around 600,000 signatures, well over the required number for a recall election.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the inevitability of the recall election, however, is the ads the Scott Walker campaign has already begun running. In an ad that aired shortly before Christmas, Walker and his wife implored citizens to think about the Christmas spirit and put differences aside (and keep an anti-union Governor?). In an ad that aired at the beginning of the recall, a “teacher” sits before a black backdrop, dressed in black, and says (in the heaviest Wisconsin accent she can muster—regional appeal!) she thinks the recall is just “sour grapes.”
Walker’s most recent ad is both deceptive and revisionist. In the ad, Walker claims to have saved “thousands” of public jobs. As he speaks, the words “saved thousands of union jobs” hover next to him. Of course, this is a grand fallacy. You can’t simultaneously dismantle unions, and then claim to have saved thousands of union jobs; by definition, those jobs are no longer union jobs.
Ultimately, Scott Walker can, and will, air as many ads as he likes, but it won’t make a difference. The people of Wisconsin will have their recall, and, much like the people of Ohio, who in November overturned anti-union legislation passed by their gung-ho Republican governor, they will overturn Walker’s anti-union law by voting him out of office, and voting in a candidate who better represents an historically pro-union state.