Editor’s Pick
APRIL 2, 2012 11:58PM

In WI: GOP Primary, but all Eyes on Walker

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(all views are mine; picture from politico.com)

As the nation looks to Wisconsin today, those of us here are all focused on the Walker recall scheduled this summer. For the zillion reasons why, I’ve written a lengthy update, not intended for the casual political observer. The political bantering has reached such a fevered pitch, that in the shuffle the voices of the regular people have been silenced.

To return a bit of that power, I’ve created a non-profit entity WIvoices.org, which is dedicated to providing a stage for people to tell their stories. We are now fundraising for our organization and I often cross post these interviews on Open Salon. The community here has been instrumental in both the development and the networking of our stories. Ardee graciously offered advice on business development, MrsRaptor consistently lent her expertise in the comment section as an elections official, and Steve Klingaman has given valuable advice on Non-Profit development, Old new lefty lending wisdom, and the list goes on.... So many more of you have read our stories attention to these stories brings such empowerment to us here in Wisconsin, send me PM’s or send love our way. We are SO encouraged by knowing that the rest of the country hasn’t forgotten us, and your pressure on the media to provide information makes a HUGE difference!

But today I’m writing strictly for OS and want to update you about the political situation on the ground in Wisconsin. I have some very hopeful news…a long time coming!

  • The Government Accountability Board made it official and set the date, June 5, for the special recall election of Governor Scott Walker and 5 other GOP leaders who were recalled by voters.
  • A Dane County Judge placed a temporary restraining order on the Voter ID bill, calling it the “single most restrictive voter eligibility law” in the United States. Local elections all over the state, on April 3, will now operate under the previous law. Frustrated by this turn of events, Walker supporters are asking for the Judicial Commission to investigate the judge because they discovered that he signed the recall against Gov. Walker. Furthermore, the judge’s wife circulated the petition that he signed. One side claimed politicking from the bench, the other reminded the public that judges can vote and sign recall petitions under state law. That issue blew over quickly when a second judge placed a permanent injunction on the law. I was able to vote early last week for our local election, as usual, and without a “Voter ID”. Everything seems back to normal, and I left my polling place with a hopeful, empowered feeling that I haven’t felt for nearly a year. This issue will likely land in the WI Supreme Court.
  • Because of the success of last summer’s recall elections in Wisconsin, the GOP majority shrunk from 19-14 to 17-16. With this turnaround and with the help of one GOP dissenter, Dale Schultz, the senate was able to stall the fast tracked, and highly contentious, mining bill. The mining bill ignored treaty rights with the Bad River Chippewa Tribe and also environmental laws. The mining company has since left the state, abandoning its plans to continue with the mine.
  • The GOP has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether or not they will try to recall one of their own, Dale Schultz, for voting against his party on the mining bill! This is unparalled.
  • One of the 4 GOP senators currently under a recall attempt resigned, effectively leaving the WI state senate evenly split 16-16. One year ago, this gap was 5 votes wide, favoring Republicans. Now, after a struggle of sweat and tears, and a dash of luck, the WI state senate is tied and 4 GOP recall elections are pending this summer. We could be looking at a 13-20 Democratic-favored Senate by the muggy, mosquitoey Wisconsin summer. Now that, my friends, is what democracy looks like.
  • Immediately following the submission of 1.9 million signatures submitted for 6 recalls, Walker filed claims to force the Government Accountability Board to check the signatures more stringently than previously required. The GOP lawyers demanded special rules for Walker, and the first judge (in Waukesha County, heavily leaning Walker territory) agreed. The GAB responded by requesting more money, staff, and time to complete such an enormous new process. Finally, a second judge overruled the lower court, and the GAB can now conduct itself as usual.
  • Then the Walker camp decided against challenging the signatures, citing that they ran out of time. A more likely reason may be that with 933,000 signatures it would be extremely unlikely that they would be able to throw out nearly half of those in order to halt an election. An out-of-state Tea Party group asked the GAB to change the law in order to allow its group to challenge signatures. The GAB refused, citing WI law.
  • When President Obama visited Milwaukee recently, Gov. Walker was slated to spend the day together making appearances. However, Gov. Walker can not go anywhere in Wisconsin without a throng of protesters. Every appearance is announced and spreads like wildfire over social media. Any city, town, or Wisconsin village he appears in, so do local protesters. The plan was that the President and Gov. Walker were going to a manufacturing plant, to recognize them and congratulate them because they recently added hundreds of new manufacturing jobs by “insourcing” from China. The problem for Walker, though, is that the state of Wisconsin has lost thousands of jobs under his Job’s Plan for the past 5 months. This plant that added jobs, was due to the work of President Obama’s national Job’s Plan. To add insult to injury for the Governor, the new workers are unionized with well-paying, middle-class jobs. It seems quite obvious that this appearance by Gov. Walker at such an event would have been a public relations nightmare for him. The President, and the national cameras that follow him, would’ve seen this first hand. This global attention is not what Walker supporters want here. So, how did Gov. Walker avoid this? The “flu”, his spokesperson said. He did manage to meet President Obama on the tarmack as his plane was leaving Wisconsin. He gave him a jersey emblazzoned with “Obama1”. It looked like a friendly exchange.
  • The most shocking development that has been brought to light has been the seemingly widespread corruption in the Walker camp. In what is quickly being dubbed “Walkergate”, numerous arrests and indictments have surrounded the Walker camp, including Gov. Walker’s top aides and campaign staff. Charges range from campaign finance fraud, stealing money belonging to a state Veteran’s group, illegal email systems and laptops attempting to avoid the “open records” law, to electioneering while on the taxpayers’ dime. Even an unrelated “child enticement” charge has materialized, as investigators pour through suspects’ computers and documents. Some have pled guilty already and will be required to testify in the ongoing “John Doe” investigation that first began before Walker even took office.
  • Gov. Walker has started a defense fund and has hired 2 criminal defense attoneys. Under state law, there are only 3 reasons a sitting Governor is allowed to take this kind of action: 1) he’s being personally investigated, 2) he is likely to be charged with a crime, or 3) he has been charged with a crime.
  • GOP lawmakers have signed a “non-disclosure” agreement, drafted by lawyers, and are refusing to speak about the new redistricting maps that heavily favor them in the upcoming elections, including the recall election. Normally redistricting would not take effect until Novemenber, however the state governement was attempting to rush the process in order to protect their candidates in the summer recall elections. They are also refusing to say who, or what entity, has written much of the legislation that has come out of the state over the last year. A panel of 3 judges ordered that they release documents that are part of open law; at least 2 of the redistricting maps were ruled unconstitutional due to process and outcome.
  • Gov. Walker redirected the federal money from the banks, intended to help homeowners, and used it to balance the state budget instead…outrage ensued.
  • Outside money flowing into our state is beyond comprehension. In fact, David Koch is now giving public interviews, stating “we’ve given a lot of money to Wisconsin, and we are going to give a lot more.” It is indisputable that the national GOP political players and supporters have a HUGE interest in the outcome of Wisconsin politics. We are the front line in this national fight for livable wages, transparency, and democracy.
  • On the ground news: most workplaces that have lost rights for workers under Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill” are reporting the same thing – increased intimidation and fear at work. Some workers endure quietly in fear, others flatter supervisors. Some bullies among workers and supervisors have stepped into the open. Workers who speak up for their profession are at risk of unjust firing, as “non-team players,” with their recent loss of power. They are also at risk of alienating themselves from fellow workers, who now do not wish to suffer by association with an “agitator”. However, I would say that many workers are just indifferent or apathetic…their lives have gone on “normally”. These workers don’t wish to speak about, or think about, the changes. Some are new workers, who do not understand the full implications. They adapt. And I’m so proud to report that some places of work are voluntarily operating under old rules by including workers in changes and continuing to give them power and voice.
  • The day after the signatures against Walker were submitted, some infighting began within the progressive movement, as certain groups immediately endorsed their preferred candidates. But Walker and camp gives enough drama to keep the movement, more or less, cohesive. It is nothing akin to the GOP national party, tearing each other apart. Rather, if feels more like a family squabble from my vantage point. If I were more strongly linked to the political pulse, rather than the grassroots one, I may feel differently about this tiff. I happen to find it exciting to have so many incredible candidates to choose from. To date, a pair of Kathleen’s have declared their candidacy – Vinehout and Falk. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (who ran against Walker in 2010) and Secretary of State Doug LaFollette have also announced their intentions. There will be a primary on May 8. Three people are campaigning for Lt. Governor. Mahlon Mitchell, the leader of the WI Fire Fighter’s union, has campaign ads and is giving speeches when he’s not leading the bagpipers around the Capitol.
  • I have to believe that everyone will calm down and get fully behind someone when all of the candidates have had a chance to throw their ideas and records into the ring. However, the pressure that we “all get behind one candidate” is palpable. Certain camps are convinced that the movement is doomed to fail without the right candidate, and each camp has their own favored person. Many grassroots people want a chance to hear from all the candidates before deciding. And, of course, rumors of a “false candidate” run by the GOP is a real concern. This would effectively mean that Republicans can flood the open primary in Wisconsin and all vote for their candidate, leaving the Dems to split their votes among many. So, we will all be pressured to go along with a party favorite rather than voting for whom we feel best represents us, which is counter-intuitive to the entire movement. My newness to the political scene prevents me from guessing how the primary will play out. The general election will be easier because nearly anyone who is anti-Walker will vote for anyone besides him.

Right now, it feels like a tug-of-war between the seasoned political professionals, who hold the invaluable knowledge that comes from experience, and the grassroots newbies, who are driven with the passion that comes from an urgent sence of self-determination. Wisconsin’s future must have a place for both camps at the table and a place for all of those in between. If we believe in the progressive spirit of change, where the actively involved people can shape the future, then we’ll find a way to honor both views.

Then, hope is on the horizon for us all.

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A tiny spark of hope. Thanks Heidi.
Given how close the race could be, lawyers need to be enlisted NOW to monitor county clerks, some of which have demonstrated too much political leaning in their job, as well as questionable procedures. The Republicans scream about vote fraud, but looking at the race for your state's Supreme Court justice, you can get a pretty good idea how vote fraud, suppression, and malfeasance can jimmy an election from a county clerk's office.
Teams of lawyers need to fan out all over the state to sit down with clerks and review procedures. In questionable counties, teams of lawyers need to be on the clerks office like mosquitoes in August.
Gosh Heidi, I'm so enjoying the tails of Scott Walker's Travails! =o) Much more than he is, I'm sure. After all the crap he's pulled in office, wouldn't it be great if he gave his concession speech and then immediately afterward, had to do his perp walk on June 5th? A girl can dream!

As for the Koch's, I hope they spend millions... and then lose every nickel of it. Money is only so much good if nobody likes your candidate. Meg Whitman spent herself silly in California, but she's not governor because she ticked off too many of the voters. And it looks like remarkably few Wisconsinites can even tolerate Walker, anymore. He's too well known as a source of bad policy and bad behavior. If he were a cheese himself, he'd be a big wedge of Stinking Bishop, right now.

I am sorry to hear about the intimidation of workers in Wisconsin---that's awful! I hope that the strongest possible candidate will emerge from the primaries on May 8 and then absolutely vanquish Walker.

Thanks for another great dispatch, Heidi. We're watching and hoping with you!
He has beady eyes. That's enuf for me. Goooo, Badgers!
You people are a sight to behold this morning ~

l'Heure Blue - a spark is enough for me right now :)

old new lefty - you'd think this would be a no-brainer, but that same clerk who messed w/ the supreme court election was also accused in the state recall elections, last summer, for shady behavior...what is wrong w/ our process?

Shiral! Thank-you for your faithful support and kind words for us always. Yes, the Kochs...we've known about them in WI for much longer than they've been part of our collective understanding nationwide. I'd advise anyone who wants to understand them - to study what they've done here, so pervasive it feels as if democracy is on hold

Matt ~ after seeing your avatar, I can only assume that I've missed some very lively Trayvon Martin conversations, shoot! thx
"We could be looking at a 13-20 Democratic-favored Senate by the muggy, mosquitoey Wisconsin summer. Now that, my friends, is what democracy looks like."

Congratulations, Heidi. I love hearing your first hand accounts of what's happening there, and I look forward to hearing people's voices in your column. I will post these to my facebook page to widen their reach if possible.....
Such good news! Thanks for the comprehensive update, and for the hope in your voice. As goes Wisconsin, so goes the country!
Dolores ~ I can't imagine a better comment ~ knowing that the regular people I've interviewed have found a wider audience to listen to their stories has been my whole intent. The community here at OS never ceases to amaze me...thank-you.
The good citizens of Wisconsin remind of the old tale about pinning a bell on the cat. Ring them bells, Heidi, we're all counting on you to change the direction of this country. When you triumph, you should change the name of the state to Wisconswin.
Ardee ~ In this new age, we can help each other so much more between states...and people like you have done just that. It often gets worse before it gets better...let's hope the "worse" is the present.
Wordsmith Tom - I had to read that twice to get it ~ nice! I may steal that...

The crazy thing is, I'm a newbie to all of this, only been involved for a little over a year, and I'm constantly humbled by the longtime activists and feel embarrassed for my past lack of attention. As my husbund says about himself, "this is my penance because I didn't vote in 2010." I've adopted that too b/c his is partly my fault, and I will do my best to make amends for my apathy.
Heidi, I've been wondering where you have been and looking forward to your posts. Normally, I wouldn't read a post this long, however your story is incredibly compelling and much of what you write has never been reported here on the West Coast. My hopes are with you as you continue to work to restore the system (at least in Wisconsin) to the way it ought to be. That's the important thing here--although the recall of Gov. Walker is the principal objective. When you are successful doing that, you will have made incredible headway. (When Gray Davis was recalled here in California, there was no change--things got worse. But that's California and it's a whole different world--one where legislators make $100K plus with limited, if any, accountability).
The recall election isn’t as important nationally as Heidi and so many other commenters seem to think. To be sure, it is very important to the people of Wisconsin. Should Walker win, the unions’ stranglehold on the budget will gradually erode, and should he lose, Wisconsin, like so many union/Democratic friendly states, continues on its path to insolvency.

However, nationally the union status quo is being challenged despite their antics in Wisconsin. For example, in solid blue Rhode Island Governor Raimondo completely reformed the pension system by standing up to these thugs. But I don’t give Raimondo or Walker courage points, their Democratic predecessors left them no choice. Stated differently, who would want to be captain of a sinking ship?
Thanks for the update. You are uncanny in how you improve upon mainstream attempts to summarize important news from Wisconsin. Ya oughta be syndicated, Heidi!
Walter! I almost didn’t recognize your new avatar ~ great to see you. I have been studying the CA recalls ever since you’ve started educating me on it in the comment thread. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Great to hear from you.

Johnny – We can agree that “The recall election isn’t as important nationally” as it is to those of us in Wisconsin. You are right - everybody here has a strong, strong opinion one way or the other. However, your statement that “Democratic predecessors left them no choice” is not supported by fact. Numerous studies have since proven that WI was not in financial trouble before Gov. Walker. I’d love to get your source on that assertion. Thanks for stopping by ~

Steve – thanks Steve ~ always good to hear from you. I loved your last post~
Thank you for all your work, Heidi; you always give us hope. Fingers crossed, and prayers. R
another steve - the logo winner last summer :) great to hear from U!

Thoth - fingers crossed is right...plus today is local election day, along w/ the GOP primary, so we are pacing...
In the picture, Walker is obviously counting off the ways that poor children can be cooked for sustenance.
In other words, I make an assertion and you ask for sources, whereas when you make an assertion, no sources are necessary? Let’s save our sources for another day and use some common sense. Walker is being recalled because of what he’s done to the unions (not because of budget issues) and union workers are more expensive than non-union workers. Assuming you agree with those two statements, do you now understand why Wisconsinites, worried about their state’s financial health, should support Walker?
Wisconsin has inspired the nation. I just hope you're prepared to deal with the Republicans shenanigans. They know every trick in the book and they're pretty good at stealing elections. Give 'em hell...send them packing!
"On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin...." You know the tune. Cannot wait to see Walker hoisted on his own petard. Keep up the good fight. You remind the rest of the U.S. how to demand that our democracy work for and by the people.
Johnny has earned the nickname Dull-Knife, since he makes a bad habit of bringing a dull knife to a gun fight. But any one who reads his asinine comments here hardly needs me to point that out.
Fascinating reporting Heidi. No wonder so many people want Walker out of there. And the Kochs keep their unblemished record intact of never supporting anything aimed at promoting the public good.
Heidi, what a great recap of all that has been happening. I feel well updated now, and will continue to read your news from the front these next months. I agree with another commenter that you should be syndicated. Best wishes to the patriots in Wisconsin! You are showing the rest of the states what democracy is supposed to look like!
Jonny ~ I’d be glad to give my sources and keep this exchange factual. I should’ve done that in my previous response.

I’ll summarize here. Scott Walker’s assertion that “We’re broke. We don’t have anymore money” was rated “False” by Politifact.


Scott Walker said, “"Wisconsin is broke," and "state government is $3 billion in debt." This was rated “Pants on Fire False” by Politifact.


Your sources now please.
Skinnydave – thanks for stopping by

Fay! So glad to hear from you, will have to stop by your site soon

Beauty – it is so wonderful to be part of something so much bigger, and just be a worker bee

Tom – thanks for checking back in

Abrawang ~ I’m learning more and more about the Koch’s every day, nice to meet you ~

Snippy ~ you were the one to inform US what was headed our way, from AZ. This is a team effort and as long as we all keep communincating, we’ll make progress. For more about states further down the rabbit hole than us, check out snippy’s


We’ve sent this to hundreds of teachers in WI !
I say this is a bright shining light showing that action does bring change Heidi, and I am thrilled for one and all involved in this.
Good news all 'round this morning...

If my arguments are so asinine why would someone as revered as Heidi choose to argue with me?


I’m not surprised you chose to have a discussion over sources and dodge my question about common sense. In a moment and on a separate comment, I’ll provide you my sources. But for the time being, would you mind simply answering the following question: Are union employees more or less expensive than non-union employees. Regardless of your political affiliation, the correct answer is “more”. With this common sense fact in mind, it’s not a stretch to assume that a less powerful union will garner less taxpayer money. If Walker is a spend-happy politician like you suggest, I'll be the first to sign the recall petition. But as you will see in a moment, he’s not.
You say: "If my arguments are so asinine why would someone as revered as Heidi choose to argue with me? "

It's good to read about the progress of the recall effort and the rolling failures of Walker, Inc. We should hope it's a lesson to small-minded ideological corporatist lickspittles everywhere.

Welcome, once again, to the tiny world of Johnny Fever (with an Andy Travis avatar) Are workers who make less cheaper? Please answer that for me the answer is yes.

You're being kind, Heidi, but you're putting out a saucer of milk for an annoying cat. You can continue to respond to Fever, but it's only, effectively, a response to others who read the exchange. His request for sources is just to keep you responding. He ignores them anyway, because an honest adult exchange isn't his goal.
His "thinking" is linear, but not expansive, so he substitutes trying to convince with trying to make you react.

Anyone who has children has, at one point in their early lives, gone through the same type of query: Why? Because. Because why? Because. [...] Because why? Because...

You owe no maternal care here. Just declare nap-time and he'll start looking for a new mommy.
Paul & Tom:

Good stuff, I actually laughed out loud. The good news for Wisconsin students and taxpayers (if you think teachers unions do a good job, Paul) is that following Walker’s reforms, Wisconsin teachers are still unionized.


Those guys are right, if you ignore me, I will go away. But as you can plainly see, none of my arguments are asinine. Accusations of being asinine or lying are what the left usually resorts to when their arguments are exposed as being illogical nonsense.

Regarding sources and what they are supposed to prove/show, I think we have a miscommunication. You said: “Numerous studies have since proven that WI was not in financial trouble before Gov. Walker”. Your sources merely show that Wisconsin wasn’t broke. One doesn’t need to be broke to be in financial trouble. So I apologize for putting words in your mouth, you never said Walker was “spend-happy”. If you had proved he was spend-happy or that he mismanaged the state’s finances, then I would be a loyal supporter of recalling him. Do you still want my sources that Walker’s union reforms have made Wisconsin more financially secure?
Romney winning the GOP primary by such a large margin last night in Wisconsin is not a good sign for Walker. In general it's Santorum's rank and file who are more likely to agree with Walker's radical right-wing anti-worker agenda. He's also failed to bring the 250,000 jobs he promised to the state. He's only managed to cut a lot of needed public sector positions, while hiring his lackeys to well paid appointments. Unfortunately from what I'm reading the unions haven't done a very good job preaching to the non-converted. This has always been a problem with these organizations, they do tend to get insulated in the larger population, and for a long time public sector unions were about as boring a political issue as one could imagine. They should get out more into the community and interact or Walker just might convince enough voters (especially older, disengaged voters whose kids are grown) that cutting the budget is some kind of heroic act. Hard sell. Boring stuff.
A virtual cattle prod sent from me . . right between his beady eyes plz
Please keep us updated on this.
Thanks for all this. As goes Wisconsin, apparently, so goes the country in regards to the political climate and the vehemence with which current right/left is infected. Let's hope that the passion for self-determination becomes an effective cure for that.