Wisconsin Governor Faces Recall Election
Next Tuesday, Wisconsin voters will decide whether to recall Governor Scott Walker (R), who was elected in 2010. The recall vote brings to the fore a number of critical issues. For one, the result will be a significant indicator of the popularity and influence of organized labor, making workers’ rights a hot-button issue during this election cycle. Moreover, the results may presage which way the state will swing during the presidential election in November.
Tuesday’s vote is only the third gubernatorial recall election nationwide and the first in Wisconsin. The petition circulated to recall the governor, which received more than the requisite number of signatures, was born out of a backlash against state legislation that stripped away labor rights. Last year, Governor Walker signed a bill that not only eliminated workers’ rights to bargain collectively but also forced workers to pay more for their pensions and health care benefits, saving a projected $137 million by July 1 to lower the state’s debt. The law sparked intense demonstrations in front of the state capitol and famously inspired Democratic lawmakers to flee the state in hopes that the legislation would not be able to move forward in their absence. Although the law was enacted, the recall election will ultimately determine the fate of workers’ rights in Wisconsin. The Democratic candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, has said he would call a special legislative session to try to restore collective bargaining rights.
Activists on both sides of the aisle are making efforts to swing the election their way. Labor unions are spearheading the organizing efforts on the left, and the Democratic Governors Association announced last week that it is spending an additional $1 million on the race, bringing its total contributions to over $3 million. Meanwhile, the Republican Governor’s Association has poured $8 million into the election – $3 million more than the organization allotted for the original election in 2010.
Stay tuned to RACblog for election results and analysis.
Photo courtesy of Politico