The liberal political machine was in full throttle. Millions of dollars in campaign ads streamed on TV. An army of union workers descended on the state in a massive grassroots voter mobilization effort. But when the dust settled, the smoke cleared, and the votes were counted, the conservative majority that swept into Wisconsin last November remained intact last night despite an unprecedented recall effort designed to bring an end to Governor Scott Walker’s reforms.
Yesterday in Wisconsin, Democrats tried to recall six GOP senators in an attempt to gain a foothold in the state’s legislature—they lost in four of the races, failing to regain a majority in the state senate. Those losses came despite a $14 million effort waged by unions and liberal groups from across the country, including the AFL-CIO, UAW, AFSCME, MoveOn.org, Teamsters, UFCW, NEA, SEIU, and People for the American Way.
The recalls marked the latest battle in the war between liberals and conservatives being waged in the birthplace of American progressivism, and once again, progressivism lost. And it’s no wonder.
In last November’s election, the Tea Party surge brought new conservative voices to Wisconsin’s state government, and under the leadership of Governor Walker, a new way of thinking took hold in the state’s capital. Wisconsin faced the fourth highest tax burden in the country, the state carried a $3 billion structural deficit, and unions had a monopoly on power. In June, Heritage’s James Sherk explained just how sweet of a deal the state’s unions had:
Government employees in Wisconsin paid just 6 percent of their health care premiums and next to nothing for generous pensions, and the average teacher in Milwaukee makes $101,000 a year. Government union contracts also require layoffs to occur on the basis of seniority. Long-time government employees can rest assured that they will never get laid off.
Enter Governor Walker’s sweeping reforms, including a new budget and a new collective bargaining law restraining the unions’ power. His proposals woke the unions from their sated slumber, spurring massive protests that shut down the state’s capitol, and14 Wisconsin senate Democrats fled to Illinois where they hid out for more than three weeks in an attempt to block the law. Ultimately, the reforms passed, they survived legal challenges, and now the state is reaping the benefits.
As America continues to struggle with unemployment, Wisconsin added a net of 9,500 new jobs in June — more than half the 18,000 created nationwide. Meanwhile, neighboring Illinois lost 7,200 jobs in June–and the state’s government is pursuing the well-worn liberal path of drastically higher taxes in order to combat crippling deficits. Heritage’s Rob Bluey reports on Wisconsin’s new-found success:
Wisconsin’s resurgence comes after three years of job losses — more than 150,000 jobs were lost in the three years before Walker became governor. Since he took office in January, the state has added 39,300 private-sector jobs. That puts Walker on pace to exceed his goal of 250,000 new jobs in four years.
In Wisconsin, the voters took notice. In a state that Barack Obama won handily in 2008, where unions have a historical stronghold, and where millions were spent to halt the tide of conservatism, the movement toward reform continues. Last night’s recall elections show that the Tea Party wave, even in the bluest of states, is no fluke.
Jim DeMint: The Wisconsin Lesson
The union-backed Democrats in Wisconsin failed yesterday to win the three recall elections they needed to retake the state senate. This is a major victory for freedom-loving Americans that should inspire us all to keep fighting for conservative principles.
Here’s how David Freddoso at The Washington Examiner described the election results:
“The people” were supposed to be on the side of the unions who protested at the state capitol when Walker’s bill passed, limiting the unions’ collective bargaining privileges against taxpayers and school districts. But it turns out that “the people” had other ideas. In the end, even a massive infusion of cash and union volunteers was not enough to deliver the three state Senate recall races the unions needed, despite the fact that President Obama carried all six of the seats in question in 2008.
This marks the unions’ third huge defeat in Wisconsin this year. The other two were the passage of Walker’s bill and the re-election of David Prosser to the state Supreme Court. The grand talk of recalling Walker himself next year seems a bit blustery now, given the great failure of last night.
It’s not exactly clear what yesterday’s results mean for the 2012 elections. Wisconsin is a swing state and Election Day is still over a year away. President Obama needs a win here to secure his re-election and Democrats will be working hard to elect another Democrat to the open U.S. Senate seat.
If there is a lesson here, it’s a lesson for those Republicans who are afraid to fight for conservative principles. Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) has demonstrated that if you lead with the courage of your convictions, you can turn your state around and win elections, too.
Unfortunately, I hear too many Republicans arguing for a “play it safe” strategy that fails to save our country and fails to give voters a reason to vote for them over their opponents.
The recent agreement to raise the debt limit was a perfect example. Conservatives produced the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan, a real solution that would have balanced the budget and preserved our AAA bond rating. But too many Republicans were unwilling to fight for it. They gave up on it because it didn’t conform to what they thought was possible.
What happened last night in Wisconsin proves anything is possible if we’re willing to stand on principle.
As you know, the Senate Conservatives Fund stood on principle last year and helped elect Ron Johnson to the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. Now we’re looking for another courageous conservative in Wisconsin to support in the 2012 U.S. Senate race.
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. I believe the 2012 elections represent a “now or never” turning point for our country. With your help, I know we can take our country back and restore America’s greatness.
United States Senator
Chairman, Senate Conservatives Fund
Alberta Darling declares victory during her recall victory party at Shully’s in Thiensville.State Sen. Alberta Darling, the highest-ranking Republican facing recall, hung onto her job in Tuesday’s recall election by defeating Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch and helping thwart Democrats’ bid to wrest control of the state Senate.
Darling claimed victory near midnight, as unofficial results showed her surging ahead. Pasch conceded early Wednesday in a phone call to Darling.