Opinion: Wisconsin news: Unions’ recall drive falls short; GOP holds state Senate
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Labor unions and Democrats counted on gaining three state Senate seats in Tuesday’s recall votes across Wisconsin to demonstrate a repudiation of Republicans’ reform drive there.
However, they got only two. And now two Democrats face recalls in elections next week.
So, no voter repudiation of Republican senators who marched with new Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a major reform drive last winter that drew round-the-clock union protests in Madison.
John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. called the election results ‘a huge victory.’
‘Voters gave us a mandate last fall,’ he added. ‘They backed us up again. Voters told us loud and clear, ‘Stay the course. Things are working.’'
More than $35 million has been spent by parties and outside interest groups on a handful of state races, compared with less than $20 million in all of last year’s 115 legislative contests. The GOP now still holds control of state government -- the governor’s office, the House and the state Senate, 17-16.
Such control allowed Walker, a former Milwaukee county government executive, to drive through a package of legislation that included curtailing collective bargaining rights for most public unions and having members contribute more to their own pensions, as a means to grow the economy and attract new jobs.
The outside groups, however, were not filling the coffers of Wisconsin TV stations just to ensure fine representation for the citizens of La Crosse and Racine. Walker’s successful push, mirrored by Republican governors in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere, became a proxy for the ongoing national debate over big government vs smaller government, more spending vs less.
Unions hoped to stop the movement in cheese land. And opponents vowed to try to recall Walker next year.
It’s a political theme being fought in Washington and sure to become familiar as the national campaigns gain momentum for 2012.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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