Labor

An Uphill Battle in Wisconsin

(Flickr/Katri Niemi)
If Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is indeed recalled today, it will be an unexpected upset for his supporters. Although the latest Public Policy Polling survey, taken yesterday, shows the race tightening—Walker leads challenger Tom Barrett by 3 points with a 2.8-point margin of error—pundits are not sanguine about the chances for a Barrett victory. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell called the effort a "mistake," and many argue despite some last minute help, the DNC has been lukewarm in its support and fundraising . The New York Times ' Nate Silver had a post yesterday evening about the uphill battle Barrett supporters face : We have not officially released a forecast for the race, but Mr. Walker’s lead of about six points would translate into almost a 95 percent chance of victory if we used the same formula we did to evaluate gubernatorial races in 2010, which derives its estimates from the historical accuracy of gubernatorial polls over the past 15 years. Campaigns that are...

The Other Wisconsin Recall

While the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has received gads of attention, most people don't know there are a variety of other recall races tomorrow—including four for state Senate. Today, Mother Jones has a nice profile of Democratic challenger Lori Compas, who's running as an alternative to Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican and a Walker supporter. Meanwhile, WaPo 's The Fix has a post on a potential scenario in which Walker wins but the Democrats take control of the state Senate. Currently, the Post notes, the Senate is evenly divided with one vacancy, which means if any of the four Democratic candidates win, the party could retake the Senate. But even if the Dems win the Senate tomorrow, it's very likely a short-lived victory. The victors will only serve until November, when they'll be up for re-election. There's not a legislative session planned between now and then, meaning that unless the governor called a special session, the would-be...

No Slam Dunk in Wisconsin

We don’t know the outcome of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, of course, but we do know this: Even if labor somehow manages to oust Republican Governor Scott Walker, the result will be nothing like the resounding repudiation that Ohio voters delivered last year in repealing that state’s anti-collective bargaining law pushed by an equally controversial GOP governor, John Kasich. Why the difference? Kasich’s bill went beyond Walker’s in banning collective bargaining for cops and fire fighters, which proved a decidedly unpopular position, but that can hardly account for more than a fraction of the difference. Moreover, Wisconsin is generally regarded as a more liberal state than Ohio. Democrats have carried it in every presidential election for the past two decades, while Ohio went Republican as recently as 2004. Wisconsin has a storied progressive history; Ohio has nothing of the kind. Walker’s bill which, like Kasich’s, repealed collective bargaining rights for public...

Win or Lose, Walker Recall Was No Mistake

(Flickr/ Lost Albatross)
Tomorrow, after more than a year watching the Wisconsin saga unfold, the nation will see whether Governor Scott Walker stays or goes. Nationally, Democrats haven't been outspoken in their support of the recall effort—in May, the DNC took heat for not supporting activists and just this weekend , former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell told MSNBC he though the recall was a "mistake" since Walker admitted he should have sold his anti-union policies in a more conciliatory fashion. For the risk-averse, it's easy to see why the recall might seem scary. The election has offered the GOP a chance to try new tactics, flooding the airwaves in what is a relatively cheap state for campaigning. Walker's plight has become a rally cry for groups like the Tea Party Express and the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama. The GOP's business wing has poured money into his campaign. If Walker wins, it will send Republicans a clear message: Even if a politician loses local support by taking extreme positions, the...

Are the Winds Shifting Towards Wisconsin Democrats?

(Flickr/ Lost Albatross)
There's been quite a bit of bad news for the recall activists hoping to oust Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A close primary at the beginning of the month divided party supporters and muddied the unified front activists formed when they collected over a million signatures to prompt the recall. Then there was the money—Walker spent much of 2012 testing his stump speech with out-of-state voters. Thanks to a loophole, he could receive unlimited contributions while until the recall election was officially called, giving him months to raise over $14 million —more than some presidential candidates. While Tea Party groups continued to beat the drum and paint the race as a precursor to November, reports surfaced that the DNC wouldn't be showing up to help eventual Democratic nominee Tom Barrett , which left state Democrats "furious." With all the news, poll numbers showed a fairly consistent 5-point lead for the controversial governor for the first few weeks of May. It looked fairly bleak...

The Wisconsin Recall Won't Determine the Presidential Race

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)
There's no question the stakes of the Wisconsin recall are high. As I wrote last week, if Governor Scott Walker survives the election next week—no matter how slim the margin—he's likely to claim a mandate. Since he's already a rock star among conservatives and anti-union activists, Walker would be in a good position to push further right. If he loses, it gives the labor movement one of its biggest victories in years. However, the fate of Wisconsin is unlikely to determine the fate of the presidential election. It may not even determine the presidential race in Wisconsin. I realize of course, that a whole lot of people disagree with me. Tea Party groups like Tea Party Express and the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama have raised significant amounts by arguing that a win for Walker will mean a loss for Obama. When I emailed CDBO leader Joe Wierzbicki about the group's emphasis on Wisconsin, he responded the recall was "the opening chapter in the presidential race." Similarly, DNC chair...

How Walker Loses in Wisconsin

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)
The Wisconsin recall effort may look like a lost cause for the Democrats and union activists who hope to see Governor Scott Walker voted out in a couple weeks. Over at the Washington Post , Jenifer Rubin offered a piece titled " Democrats are dreading a Wisconsin wipeout. " InTrade, the prediction market for anything and everything, shows Walker today with a 91 percent chance of winning . But things are hardly settled. While Walker has a clear and consistent lead in polls, that lead is relatively small—except for an outlier or two, it's been around 5 points or less. "The polling is showing margins that are either close to the margin of error or just outside the margin of error," explains Charles Franklin, a Wisconsin political scientist who's currently overseeing the Marquette Law School Poll. (His own poll showed a 6-point Walker lead.) The stakes are high. If, after collecting more than 1 million signatures to prompt a recall, Democrats fail to oust Walker, it will give the current...

Dems Use Walker "Divide and Conquer" Remark to Their Advantage

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)
After he pushed laws to limit collective bargaining for public employees, sparking mass protests last year, it's hardly surprising to discover that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told one of his biggest contributors that he favored right-to-work laws and would take a "divide and conquer" approach to union power. But when a video clip surfaced late last week, showing the governor saying just that, it offered his opponents a major opportunity. In the film, shot before Walker introduced his anti-union legislation last year, billionaire Diane Hendricks asks Walker if there's any chance Wisconsin can become "a completely red state, and ... become a right-to-work state." Walker responds by saying "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer." The clip appeared as part of a trailer for an upcoming documentary film. Since the exchange took place last year, Hendricks has given more than $500,000 to Walker...

Meet Tom Barrett

(Flickr/barret4wi)
Last night, Wisconsin Democrats chose Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as their candidate to go up against Governor Scott Walker. Barrett's pretty well known to Wisconsinites, both as a U.S. congressman and as a previous gubernatorial candidate. But most of us weren't all that interested in Wisconsin until Walker passed his anti-union laws and the widespread protestss began last year. Since then, the race has developed a national following—and some say, has national implications . With only a few weeks until the recall, meet the man Democrats are hoping will beat Scott Walker: 1. Irony of ironies, he's hardly a union favorite. Even though the recall has largely been painted as a fight between pro-labor and anti-labor groups, Barrett was hardly the first pick for Wisconsin unions. Rather, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk had the bulk of union support early on. From the state AFL-CIO, the the Wisconsin Education Association Council to AFSCME, almost all the major unions backed Falk...

Richard Lugar, the Tea Party's Sacrificial Lamb

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
When he was the young mayor of Indianapolis in the late Sixties and early Seventies, Richard Lugar was acclaimed by Richard Nixon as his favorite mayor. An orthodox Main Street Republican, stiff despite his years, Lugar was competent, conventional and Nixonian in a good way (studious, intellectually ambitious) without any of Big Dick’s phobias. He brought those attributes to the Senate, where in recent decades he took on the challenge of ridding the world of loose nukes. It was a task that required him to work alongside his Democratic colleagues, which was never a problem for Lugar in any case. Yesterday, the Republican Jacobins dispatched Dick Lugar to history’s dustbin. He was a creature of the Republican past—a contemporary of Bob Dole and Howard Baker and a generation of not-excessively partisan and certainly not all that ideological Republicans who used to dominate their party. Indiana Republicans, who’d sent him to the Senate for six successive terms, now found him wanting: He...

Scott Walker Raises More Than Newt Gingrich

(Flickr/WisPolitics.com)
It's only a week until Wisconsin Democrats decide who will be the challenger in the gubernatorial recall that's grabbed the national spotlight. But while the polling shows a tight race between Governor Scott Walker and the two leading Democratic candidates, the numbers are out and the war for dollars is already won. Walker's a national favorite for conservative donors. Because of the competitive Republican presidential primary and the likely to be close general election, Walker has managed to raise $14.2 million from donors across the country. Thanks to a loophole in state election law , between the time recall activists started collecting signatures and when a judge finally ruled there needed to be an election, Walker was able to ignore the state's $10,000 donation cap. That allowed him to collect a bunch of six-figure donations, including two over $500,000. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has an excellent piece laying out the fundraising landscape, explaining that Walker managed to...

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, Focused Largely in Wisconsin

A 2009 Tea Party rally in Madison protesting then-Governor Jim Doyle. (Flickr/cometstarmoon)
Based on emails from the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, the Tea Party-affiliated political action committee seems more like the Campaign to Support Scott Walker. Daily—sometimes multiple times a day—the organization sounds out emails blasting the move to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The emails don't mince words. An April 15 email (subject line: Fox News + Wall Street Journal ALERT) tells subscribers that "If Obama's operatives and the union bosses win, they will export their tactic of million-dollar funded RECALLs against Republican governors across the country, and they will likely win Wisconsin's 10 Electoral Votes for Obama in November." "But," the email goes on to say, "if they lose, it will deal a massive blow to Obama, his allies and the labor union bosses." And those aren't just any allies. Another email went into more detail: "The complete power and force of the state and national Democrat Party, combined with millions upon millions of dollars from state and...

ALEC Gives In, But There's No Reason to Celebrate

(Flickr/Sunset Parkerpix)
After weeks of pressure, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) appears to be backing away from long-term efforts at creating barriers to voting (voter-ID laws) and pushing "Stand Your Ground" legislation. The latter allows those who feel threatened in public places to use force; Florida's version is currently at the center of the Trayvon Martin case. Giving in to public pressure, ALEC announced Tuesday that it was disbanding its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which promoted such legislation and helped see it proliferate. The organization is now "reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy." ALEC's spokesperson did not respond to interview requests nor did Public Safety Task Force Chair Jerry Madden, a Texas state representative. ALEC, which proudly calls itself "the nation's largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators," has operated as a largely secret arena in which corporate sponsors...

Spring Cleaning for Occupy

Many social-movement organizations have become mausoleums to their causes. OWS offers a template for renewal. 

Creative Commons
Last week, several dozen nonprofit organizations hosted events across the country to train more than 100,000 Americans in nonviolent direct action. Dubbed the 99% Spring, the training was spearheaded by several national nonprofit organizations. If you didn’t hear about it, you’re not alone. Other than a few anticipatory stories from the Associated Press and NPR, the week’s worth of meetings and actions flew below the national radar. Whether that’s a bad thing depends on what role you expect nonprofit social-movement organizations to play in our current political discourse. The so-called nonprofit industrial complex includes organizations that want to change policies and practices for a wide range of social, economic, and political issues—from reproductive justice to foreign policy. Within this broad category is a subset of what I’ll call “social-movement organizations”—institutions that exist not only to advance their own agendas but to support a wider grassroots movement . Examples...

With the Wisconsin Recall Official, Who's Winning?

(Flickr/Sue Peacock)
With the Wisconsin recall election now official , state Democrats are in a sticky place. Pro-recall forces were able to look united through much of the process, and the million petitions they turned in sent a powerful signal that folks were united against the governor. But there are currently four Democratic candidates hoping they'll be the one to displace Walker. Furthermore, there are no clear winners; two Democrats are in a virtual tie, both in their primary and against Governor Scott Walker. Things got considerably more complicated on Friday afternoon when, hours after the Government Accountability Board made its announcement, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced he was throwing his hat into the ring. Barrett narrowly lost to Walker in 2010, and as mayor of a Democratic stronghold, he's got good name recognition around the state. He's also controversial with the state's labor unions—an awkward situation since it was the fight over collective bargaining rights that triggered the...

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