Today the Associated Press reported that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would not challenge the 1 million petition signatures submitted by recall group United Wisconsin and state Democrats because of the impossible time constraint’s allotted to Walker to review the signatures.
Now, the Government Accountability Board has until March 19 to review the signatures to determine if Walker’s opponents turned in the minimum number of valid signatures – 540,208. More than 54 percent of the signatures would have to be invalid to avoid a recall election of Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and thee other Republican State Senators.
Of the 400,000 signatures already checked by Walker’s campaign, only 10 – 20 percent were invalid, meaning the recall election, which would occur in April, all but certain.
How important is the forthcoming recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? So important that the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore deemed it, “The Most Important Non-Presidential Election of the Decade.” The editorial page of the California Orange County Register said this about the recall, “if successful [it] will empower unions and expand their power in Wisconsin and throughout the country, including in California.”
Both Walker and his union adversaries know this election will have ramifications beyond Wisconsin. This is why both sides expect to spend heavily to achieve their desired outcome. The combined total projected spending is in the upper tens of millions to as high as $100 million.
If a primary were to occur on the Democratic side, the general recall election would not take place until May.
Two candidates are considering running in the Democrat primary: 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Barrett and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), Wisconsin’s largest and most powerful teachers union has endorsed Falk, largely because she promised to veto any budget that continued Walker’s collective bargaining changes. WEAC has recently engaged in efforts to discourage other would be opponents from entering the Democratic primary. A clear primary field would allow Falk and the unions to direct all of their resources toward defeating Governor Walker rather than expending additional dollars in a primary fight.
According to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) memo released today, Barrett would lead theoretically lead Walker 49-46 percent; Falk would lead Walker 48-47 percent. However, the Democratic polling firm predicts Walker would ultimately come out the victor against either challenger based on Wisconsin Democrats’ previous unsuccessful attempts to to overturn the limits Governor Walker placed on collective bargain rights for public sector employees, even with heavy financial support from outside sources.
Their first failure came when all the Democrat State Senators fled to Illinois in an effort to stop the budget from passing. They failed again when they tried to replace conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser with a far left candidate who would overturn the legislation when it came before the Supreme Court. The third strike came when they failed to gain control of the Wisconsin Senate by recalling six Republican state senators last year. At the end of the day, Republicans still held a majority in the upper house, albeit a one seat majority.
One would think three-strikes would be enough, but the unions refuse to allow Walker to become the national poster child for Republicans who seek to limit the size and scope of government and make public sector union members pay their fair share. There will be much cheering and rejoicing among Democrats public sector unions across the nation, should this recall be successful. They will have won the battle for the “working man,” even though nothing could be further from the truth.
Walker’s reforms have saved taxpayers millions of dollars. The City of Milwaukee saved $11 million in 2011, after Democrat Mayor Tom Barrett said Walker’s reforms would make the city’s debt “explode.” The largest savings have come as a result of the new open bid process, and Wisconsin taxpayers are learning just how much WEA Trust, an affiliate of WEAC, was overcharging for health care benefits. One study estimated that if school districts in Wisconsin could request bids openly in the free market, the state could save between $68 million and $143 million every year for equivalent coverage.
Walker has made himself the bulls-eye for Democrats and their union allies because his reforms have exposed the deep-seated corruption in the system. This recall is not about providing better government services or education for students. It’s about power. The unions are losing their grip on it, and they want it back. And, they’ll do whatever they need to in order to get it.
It is imperative that those who believe in Governor Walker and his vision for Wisconsin to what they can to make certain this coming recall effort fails. If it is successful, unions will be reinvigorated come November, and god help our nation should that happen.
With additional reporting by Francesca Chambers and Stacey Disterhof