Archive for the ‘Recall Van Wanggaard’ Category
I’ve had a number of comments recently about various things, but none of them have reached the level of a full blog post. So here goes with the latest edition of Odds and Ends.
First, I’m taking the summer off from watching television. This is the main reason I haven’t written about the fourth season of “Drop Dead Diva,” despite all the hits I’ve had on my review of the season three finale. I do know that Fred the angel is off the show and there’s a new angel there instead — an impossibly gorgeous male who, sight unseen, bothers me. But that’s the only thing I’ve really gathered, aside from the fact that Kim Kardashian seems to have a recurring role this season.
Second, the Wisconsin GOP has, quite predictably, slammed the District 21 state Senate election, all because Democrat John Lehman won over R Van Wanggaard. Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has led a number of prominent Rs in proclaiming that the Racine elections had “numerous errors” and that supposedly, Racine County must get its act together before the November elections — all because we had the temerity to throw out our one-year Senator when the rest of the state held the course.
I have no problem with former Senator Wanggaard saying “I shall return!” as if he’s a modern-day incarnation of General Douglas MacArthur, because he’s a politician and that’s what politicians of either party tend to say. (Maybe not quite so stridently as Wanggaard. But then again, as the only R to go down on June 5, 2012, I suppose he must feel terrible.) Nor am I upset with Wanggaard for asking for a recount, pointing out various issues he and his staff have been alerted to, etc. — he’s a politician, so he has to say those things. And considering he lost by less than 2% of the vote, I suppose that’s his right.
My problem remains with the Wisconsin GOP as a whole; they didn’t slam Waukesha County in 2011 when there were massive problems there — problems that make the City and County of Racine’s issues look extremely small in comparison — because those problems benefitted them.
So, if an election goes the Rs way, even if there are terrible and systemic problems with a County Clerk like Waukesha’s Kathy Nickolaus, the Rs are OK with it. But if the election goes the way of the Ds, the Rs aren’t standing for it, even though whatever problems Racine had were due to an overwhelmingly high turnout (the highest on record for any election, including Presidential elections), nothing more. That’s why the WI GOP’s stance regarding Racine County’s recall election smacks of sour grapes as well as political expediency; I remain unimpressed.
Third, what on Earth does the United States House of Representatives, led by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, think they’re doing taking vote after vote to repeal Obama’s national health care plan? (Especially as they know, just as the rest of us do, that the US Senate will never go along with them.) Here we are in a jobless recovery; the economy, overall, is terrible. We need jobs, we need more economic development, and we need it right now. Yet they’d rather waste our time, and our taxpayer dollars, by taking these unnecessary votes. This is political grandstanding and it should not be tolerated. Period!
Fourth, are the Milwaukee Brewers going to get any better this year? And will Zack Greinke stay a part of the team? Stay tuned.
Fifth, and finally, the summer is a bad time for me. It’s not just my asthma, or other associated summertime health woes, which have been exacerbated as we’re having one of the hottest, driest summers on record in SE Wisconsin. It’s that I have a number of important dates on the calendar that I observe — my wedding anniversary. My late husband’s birthday (even though he didn’t observe it). Etc. — and the fact that I must observe them alone, always alone, is a trial.
Look. I despise the fact that I’m a widow. (Very few people will come right out and say this, but I will.) If I had the power, my husband would be alive right now and I’d not be typing out these words. But I’m human, mortal, fallible, all that, and I don’t have that power.
What I do every day is to try to find some meaning, some purpose, in whatever remains of my life. I continue to write (as you see). I continue to edit. I play my instruments. I compose music when I have the time, energy, and ideas. I talk with my friends, as I’m able . . . all the things I have to do in order to continue to stay alive in any sense.
But of course it’s difficult to be without the love of my life. I’d be lying if I said anything else.
And that difficulty is made much worse because the person who understood me best since that time is also dead — my good friend Jeff, whom I’ve discussed many times on this blog. That I haven’t been able, as of yet, to go to Colorado and make any peace whatsoever with his passing has assuredly not helped.
I know it doesn’t matter — would never matter — to Jeff where I mourn. But it would help me to go there and visit the places he told me about. Which is why at some point I will go there; it’s just a matter of when. Let us hope that down the line, I will find enough work at a good rate of remuneration, so I can finally take that trip.
As I expected, Van Wanggaard, the recalled Senator from Racine’s District 21, has requested a recount. Wanggaard was declared the official loser of the District 21 race by 834 votes this past Tuesday, and at that time he said he was “weighing his options.” Because of the recount request, former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) must now wait for the recount to officially, and finally, send him back to Madison as District 21′s next Senator.
The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, 2012, at the Racine County Courthouse.
Here’s a link to some video the Racine Journal-Times took of Lehman’s commentary after Wanggaard requested the recount:
Basically, Lehman says he has “a lot of confidence that the vote total will hold up.” He also said he has great faith in the Wisconsin election system, and that he looks forward to going back to Madison to “begin the healing process.”
Here’s a link to the actual story:
On the flip side, Wanggaard says that once upon a time, Judge Dennis Barry (now deceased) was down by about 700 votes in an election. Barry requested a recount, and it was found that Barry actually won by 900 votes.
Note that I was unable to find any reference to this election online, and that I’ve lived in Racine for many years and do not remember any such occurrence. (I’m not saying it hasn’t happened. But I am saying that I cannot find it and don’t recall it personally.)
Whereas I do recall that in 2002, Democratic incumbent Senator Kim Plache (D-Racine) lost by 773 votes to Republican Cathy Stepp. Plache did not request a recount; instead, she conceded.
Recounts are expensive, which is one reason many Republicans last year lambasted the Kloppenburg-Prosser state Supreme Court recount, even though percentage-wise, it was closer than the 1.12% margin between Lehman and Wanggaard. (Granted, recounting one Senate district is much less onerous and far less expensive than recounting a whole state, but the principle is the same.)
In this case, Wanggaard had to pay a $685 filing fee to request the recount. He did that today.
What’s more troubling than this recount request is that Wanggaard’s camp has trumpeted in the media that there were problems at various wards in Democratic areas (particularly at the Cesar Chavez Community Center, which is news to me as that’s my polling place) that rose to the level of “election fraud.” The Racine Sheriff’s office is investigating to see if any election fraud has occurred; I’d not worry so much about this except for the fact that Wanggaard is a former police officer and sits on the Police and Fire Commission in the City of Racine. This doesn’t mean the Sheriff’s Department will do anything wrong; in fact, I’d be astonished if they did. But it does mean that it appears the reason Wanggaard’s concerns about election fraud were taken more seriously than other, reported concerns, is because the Sheriff’s Department knows Wanggaard well and is more likely to believe him.
Yet I’ve heard that at other polling places, especially in Republican wards, Democrats were harassed. Nothing’s being done to investigate this by any police or Sheriff in the entirety of District 21, even though at one ward there was one person who was allowed to stay who apparently harassed every single person she saw if she felt they were going to vote for a Democrat. Why is it that this person, who apparently stayed at the polling place for five hours and strongly appears to have done something against the law in Wisconsin (it’s called “electioneering” and it’s not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place), hasn’t been investigated even though it truly appears by her actions, she interfered with the vote on June 5, 2012?
Is it because this person is alleged to be a Republican bigwig from Lake County, Illinois? (If so, that’s plain, flat wrong.)
Getting back to this particular election, Wanggaard lost fair and square. Here’s why:
- Wanggaard is well-known in this area as a former policeman and police union representative.
- Wanggaard alienated and angered people by voting against collective bargaining, especially due to being a past union representative who’s benefitted from collective bargaining.
- Wanggaard was unresponsive to the voters in this area when asked to explain what he’d done, much less why he’d done it.
These three things were more than enough to get him recalled.
As for the story about former Judge Barry, Judge Barry was a good man, a well-respected man. If it’s true that there was a problem, once upon a time, with votes being inaccurately counted and an election swinging the other way (as the Racine Journal-Times hasn’t yet referenced the election Wanggaard is discussing, and because I haven’t been able to find out anything regarding such an election online — meaning it may have pre-dated the rise of the Internet), I’d want a recount in Wanggaard’s place, too.
But I’ve said all along that I am in favor of a recount (mostly because I was in favor of Kloppenburg’s recount last year and unlike some Rs, I’m not a hypocrite). So bring on the recount . . . but don’t expect it to change things overmuch.
In other words, John Lehman is still Senator-elect for District 21, and once the recount is completed, Lehman will officially be sent to Madison to take up his duties as state Senator. Period.
Edited to add:
The blog Badger Democracy has an interesting article you should read. In short, every public official who has a hand in this recount is either a Walker appointee or is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican (or both). This is both concerning and distressing, but the conclusions being drawn are even more so:
The bottom line here is simple – each of the players in this case – DA Chiapete, Sheriff Schmaling, former DA and now Judge Nieskes all have a vested political and financial interest in the outcome of this case. This is an obvious attempt to use unfounded claims of “vote irregularities” to block the electoral process – a highly hypocritical move for the GOP machine, smearing Milwaukee DA John Chisolm and the John Doe Investigation (Chisolm has prosecuted Democrats and Republicans alike during his truly non-partisan terms). All three of these GOP shills should recuse themselves and appoint an independent investigator if they truly believe a crime was committed.
But they won’t – look for a case in a GOP-friendly court (such as Waukesha County), based on these so-called “irregularities” to enjoin the GAB from certifying the election, as the case makes its way through the courts – and the Senate remains at 16-16 until November. Both Racine County DA and Sheriff’s Department refused comment to Badger Democracy on an “ongoing investigation.”
All I can do is hope that this will not happen, though I have seen such delaying tactics used before by the Republican Party — in Minnesota, where Republican United States Senator Norm Coleman lost narrowly in 2008 to Democrat Al Franken — in fact, Coleman lost by only 312 votes — but delayed Franken being able to take his new seat as US Senator by eight months due to various legal challenges.
Granted, that election had some things in it that this one doesn’t — namely, it was a three-party race, and the difference, percentage-wise, between Franken and Coleman was about .01% (that is, one one-hundredth of a percent).
This election isn’t nearly that close, percentage-wise, and obviously there were only two parties involved in this race — the Democrats, represented by Lehman, and the Republicans, represented by Wanggaard.
If the Rs decide that they’re better off to employ a similar “delay as long as possible” strategy, they will certainly erode public faith in the election system of Wisconsin. And considering that many, including myself, are wondering if all the vote totals in every county were exactly as stated in the Walker/Kleefisch recalls due to possible problems with electronic voting machines, that might not be a really good wasp’s nest to kick up right now.
For those of you waiting for official Wisconsin recall news, here’s a news flash for you: John Lehman is still the Senator-elect from Racine’s state Senate District 21.
On Tuesday, June 12, 2012, the official canvass re-ran the numbers from the June 5, 2012 election. The only thing that changed is that former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) widened his narrow lead over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) to 834 votes instead of the previous 779.
Please see this link from the Racine Journal-Times for further details:
Here’s a brief quote from that article:
The results totaled Tuesday increased Lehman’s lead by 55 votes, but Wanggaard as of Tuesday afternoon had not conceded and had not ruled out a recount, with his campaign manager citing reports of voting irregularities.
The final total was Lehman with 36,351 votes and Wanggaard with 35,517 votes, Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen read Tuesday after finishing the canvass for the 21st Senate District at the Racine County Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave.
Of course, the Democratic Party is calling on Wanggaard to concede, especially due to the analysis done by this Journal-Times article from June 6, 2012, that proves Lehman, a Democrat, won the Senate district while Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, Republican incumbents, won the races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Here’s the first three paragraphs from that article, which describes what happened:
While it appears Democratic challenger John Lehman led state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, in the 21st Senate District, in those same wards Republican Gov. Scott Walker won over his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.
Walker had 36,505 votes to Barrett’s 35,744, and, in total, 916 more people in the senate district voted in the governor’s race than in the senate race, according to unofficial results.
Lehman said he couldn’t really explain the difference in the votes. But he said possibly he is better known in the 21st Senate District than Barrett. For instance, some voters may have had him as a teacher, Lehman said. Also he said, “I really think a lot of people have questioned Sen. Wanggaard’s representing them and the way he has gone about it.”
My analysis of this occurrence is simple: Wanggaard, as I’ve said before, is a past City of Racine policeman and a police union representative. Everyone who votes in the City of Racine knew that, which is why Wanggaard lost there by a 2-to-1 margin; in the county, Wanggaard needed to win by a substantial margin to make up that difference. Wanggaard couldn’t do it.
Now, what has to be extremely difficult for Wanggaard to swallow is this: going back to his vote on SB 10 last year, had Wanggaard voted with Dale Schultz of Richland Center to oppose that bill, the likelihood is that Wanggaard would not have been recalled despite the many other things the district did not agree with Wanggaard about (such as Wanggaard’s signing of the non-disclosure agreements regarding redistricting, or Wanggaard’s agreement with the rest of the sitting Republicans in the Senate that state education funding should be slashed, which substantially hurt the Racine Unified School District). Wanggaard did support, along with Schultz, a proposed amendment that would have allowed for collective bargaining to be reinstated after two years — a “sunset” provision under the law — but procedural moves by the Republican leadership in the Senate kept that amendment from ever going to the floor. Schultz’s opposition to SB 10 was largely due to the refusal of the R leadership to hear his amendment, which is why if Wanggaard had followed Schultz’s lead and voted against SB 10 — which would’ve meant the R Senators would’ve won the day with a 17-2 margin instead of 18-1 – Wanggaard likely would never have been forced to this recall election.
Ultimately, Wanggaard was done in by his own inexperience. My guess is that he didn’t really know what was going on when he took that vote — at least, he didn’t realize the district would recall him over it (even though I, and others, wrote to him and told him bluntly that this would be the result). And his own leadership, which perhaps forgot about the fact that former Sen. George Petak (R-Racine) was recalled in District 21 in 1996 for far less than this, may have believed that everything would “blow over” — if so, they were plain, flat wrong — or may have believed that due to redistricting, had Wanggaard just been able to get to November of this year, he’d be in a “safe” Republican seat that would not recall him.
But I have news — people in Racine County were upset with Wanggaard, too. Not as many of them as in the City of Racine, demonstrably — but enough that Wanggaard could not make up Lehman’s lead. And with this split-ticket voting (where some people voted for Walker/Kleefisch on the one hand and Lehman on the other), along with some people either writing their own names in or refusing to vote for Senate at all due to their disgust with Wanggaard’s hypocrisy, it’s obvious there were more than enough people in the entirety of District 21 to recall Van Wanggaard.
So, what does Wanggaard do now? His options are two: request a recount by Friday, June 15, 2012, something he’ll have to pay for himself as the margin of Lehman’s apparent victory is large enough that the state of Wisconsin will not pay for the recount. Or concede.
My belief is that Wanggaard will request a recount, which is sensible from his context. He probably wants to know, for a certainty, the hard data that backs up this “split ticket” phenomenon from a hand recount. And he also probably wants to know, for a certainty, that the voters of Racine really did reject him, personally — especially as they retained Walker and Kleefisch.
But the hand recount won’t change the facts: Wanggaard has lost this race to Lehman.
And ultimately, even though I do feel sorry for him as he’s the first one-year Senator in Wisconsin’s history to ever get recalled, Wanggaard has no one but himself to blame. Because no matter what the Republican leadership in Madison told him last year, he should’ve remembered what happened to Petak in 1996 as he lived in Racine at the time and was active in Republican politics, and avoided this result by casting his vote with Schultz against SB 10. Period.
Folks, former D Senator John Lehman claimed victory last night in the District 21 Wisconsin state Senate recall race over current R Senator Van Wanggaard, as I wrote earlier. But as I’ve had a comment from someone who believes this particular race is nonsensical due to Walker winning the overall Racine County race, I thought I’d give a few more numerical particulars as I’ve already explained the case to vote against Van Wanggaard many times on this blog. (Click on the “Recall Van Wanggaard” category and you’ll find many posts explaining why I believed District 21 voters should first recall Wanggaard, then replace him.)
First, here’s an article by the Mount Pleasant Patch that shows the final vote totals. They have reported thusly:
The final vote totals were posted after 1:30 a.m., and by 2 a.m., district-wide unofficial results stood at:
- Wanggaard: 35,476
- Lehman: 36,255
As you see, there were 71,731 votes cast. Lehman leads by 779 votes. This is a margin of slightly over one percent.
How can this be when Racine County, overall, went for Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch (as Gov. and Lt. Gov., accordingly)? Simple. The City of Burlington, which is heavily Republican, is not a part of the current District 21 boundaries. So they could play no part in this particular recall race, though they did play a small part in re-electing Bob Wirch to the District 22 seat last year (as Burlington is in 22 until November, 2012).
Also, according to unofficial reports, John Lehman won the City of Racine by a 2-to-1 margin. Van Wanggaard won the rest of Racine County, but not by enough of a margin to retain him.
And, finally, the City of Racine went out in record numbers — an 80% turnout has been estimated, which dwarfs any previous election including all Presidential elections. Which helped Lehman gain the advantage he needed.
In short — the City of Racine votes heavily Democratic. The county of Racine usually votes Republican. Keep Burlington, which is heavily Republican, out of the equation (as they’re not yet part of District 21), and you have a victory for John Lehman.
Oh, yes — if you’re really that keen on the history of Racine recalls, there are two other posts you need to look at that will explain this result. First, check out my commentary about the 1996 recall race between R George Petak and D Kim Plache here. Or take a look at a recent post where I discussed Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Craig Gilbert’s analysis (a very, very good analysis) here.
Former Senator John Lehman, D-Racine, has declared victory tonight after apparently defeating Republican incument state Senator Van Wanggaard in the June 5, 2012, District 21 Senate recall race in Racine. But as this is a close election, where about 800 votes separates Lehman from Wangaard, I’m only willing to say that Lehman is ahead, though it looks very unlikely that Wanggaard will be able to best Lehman due to there being only one ward remaining in Mount Pleasant — with that ward being unlikely to have 800 votes total within it (much less all 800 potential votes going to Wanggaard).
Here’s the latest report from the Racine Journal-Times:
Note the link says “Wanggaard in a razor thin lead” but the article itself says, “Lehman Claims Victory.”
Here’s a bit from the article:
As of press time, former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine leads state incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 34,834 votes to Wanggaard’s 34,038 votes, according to unofficial results with 59 of 60 precincts reporting. One Mount Pleasant precinct had yet to report. (numbers bolded by Barb Caffrey)
With there being an approximately 800 vote discrepency, this is not within the 1% margin where the state would pay for a recount — Wanggaard’s campaign would have to request one, and they would have to pay the bill.
Should this result hold up, this means the state Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, 17-16, as Wanggaard will have been recalled and replaced via election. But as all votes will have to be verified later today in a process called a “re-canvass,” this result could still change.
Once again, I’ll keep you posted.
Just a brief update . . . turnout has been reported in Wisconsin as being anywhere from 60 to 80 percent, depending on where you are. In Racine, where I am, I’ve heard estimates of 65% and up. In Waukesha County, one of the “reddest” Republican areas in the state, turnout is said to be close to 80%, which on the R side is necessary to give Gov. Walker a chance to retain his seat. And in Northern Milwaukee (city and county), clerks ran out of ballots early, which is said to be a good sign for the Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett, as that’s one area he must win by a big margin.
All I know at this point — as it will be another four hours until the polls close here in Wisconsin — is that voters have taken their responsibility seriously.
I’ll keep you posted on what transpires, especially here in the hotly-contested District 21 Wisconsin state Senate recall race.
It’s two days before the June 5, 2012, recall election against sitting Governor Scott Walker, sitting Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and against four Republican state Senators (three sitting, one who has already resigned), including my own Republican state Senator, Van Wanggaard. Basically, everything that can be said about the recalls — why I favor them, why I believe they are necessary and are a form of democracy in action — has been said.
But one thing I realized when reading over my previous blog, “Scott Walker: Bad for Wisconsin” is this — for whatever reason, I didn’t define why I felt Walker was bad for Wisconsin. Instead, I reflected upon all of the divisive things Walker did early in 2011 which caused a great deal of harm to public discourse and civility in Wisconsin, and hoped my views would be clear.
But in case it wasn’t, let’s try again.
Since Scott Walker was elected in November of 2010, he has divided this state in harmful, self-aggrandizing ways. He has not used his “bully pulpit” to good effect, as he could’ve explained why he wanted the so-called reforms as propagated by Act 10 (which repealed collective bargaining for public employee unions, something Wisconsin had since the late 1950s) rather than just do it by fiat. After Walker used his power to make such a drastic change, he proceeded to get upset because the 14 Democratic Wisconsin Senators left the state in an effort to delay Act 10 by any means necessary as the Wisconsin Assembly had already shown indications of passing Act 10. The “Wisconsin 14″ did this to promote civic — and civil — discourse, because if they hadn’t left the state, Act 10 would’ve been approved within days of Walker “dropping the bomb” on the state’s voters; by leaving the state, every single voter in the state was able to become informed.
At this point, Scott Walker and his Lt. Gov., Rebecca Kleefisch, went on various right-wing talk shows, including many at the Fox News Channel, to discuss these “modest reforms” — things that were no such thing — and to say that the “Wisconsin 14″ were a bunch of low-lifes who refused to “compromise” with Walker, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, or the Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald (brother of Scott). This was classic Orwellian doublespeak on the part of Walker and Kleefisch; while Kleefisch, to a degree, could be excused for this because her position as Lt. Gov. has very little power, there was no excuse for what Walker said, nor for how he said it.
As we all know now, the Wisconsin Republican Senators eventually passed SB 10 by the vote of 18-1 in order to make Act 10 the law in Wisconsin. (The lone dissenting vote was Dale Schultz of Richland Center.) Some of the Republican Senators, including my own Van Wanggaard, had strong ties to unions — Wanggaard being a former policeman and past union representative — yet apparently had no qualms about stripping other union members of their rights, probably because police and firefighters had been exempted from Act 10′s “union-stripping” provisions.
After the Senate Rs did this, the Wisconsin 14 came home to a deeply divided state, where Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, the Fitzgerald brothers, etc., still said one thing and did something else. But the people on the ground (like me) who at that time weren’t affiliated with either party were outraged. Nine Senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — faced recall elections. Of those, four Rs and all three Ds were retained, while two Rs were tossed from office and officially recalled.
That, of course, was far from the end of the story, as in November of 2011 four more Senate recalls and the recall of Walker and Kleefisch started. Recall petitioners were told that we’d “never get” enough signatures, but we proved the naysayers wrong; ultimately, Walker, Kleefisch, Wanggaard, Scott Fitzgerald, and two other state Senators were recalled.
If you’ve read my blogs thus far, you know all this. You probably also know that Scott Walker has gone to more out-of-state functions than any other one-year Governor in the history of Wisconsin. He’s raised 60 to 70% of his campaign donations from out-of-state donors, some from extremely wealthy men and women. You probably even know that in some quarters, Walker is viewed as a hero, of all things, because he “refused to back down” when the unions “told (him) where to go.”
The only part of those beliefs that’s true is that Walker refused to back down about anything. But what people who insist on “standing with Walker” fail to realize is that Walker set this whole thing into motion himself — it’s not just the way he did things, which was execrable, but what he did that caused this whole mess.
All of this leads me to only one conclusion: Scott Walker is still very bad for Wisconsin. Because Walker has shown that he cannot and will not compromise with anyone, he’s shown he’s incapable of being Governor — a job where compromise is a must. And if Walker is retained on Tuesday, we in Wisconsin will be looking at more pain, more problems, and more frustration, as Walker will view this election as yet another mandate to do whatever he likes, even if he wins by .0001% of the vote.
That’s why I urge my fellow Wisconsinites to vote for Tom Barrett on Tuesday, June 5. Vote for Mahlon Mitchell as your next Lieutenant Governor, and for those of you in Racine County’s District 21, vote for John Lehman as your next Senator. All three men are moderates who will work to restore civility to Madison, which is why we need all three of them to be elected on June 5.
Edited to add: John Nichols explains very clearly why Scott Walker should be recalled and replaced here. Here’s a few words from his compelling and cogent blog:
Elected officials weren’t supposed to campaign on one set of themes and govern on another. They weren’t supposed to “divide and conquer” the state. They weren’t supposed to collect $500,000 checks from billionaires, and gather most of their campaign money in other states. They weren’t supposed to have criminal defense funds.
Earlier today, the Washington Post reported that former President Bill Clinton will visit Wisconsin on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett in the Wisconsin Gubernatorial Recall race. Here’s a few words from Bill Clinton’s statement as quoted by the Post:
“Folks in Wisconsin have been on the front lines of fighting for working, middle-class families across America for more than 16 months,” the former president said in a statement. “I’m coming to Wisconsin to help Tom and the extraordinary grassroots volunteers on the ground.”
Now, why is this happening at this late date? It’s because voter turnout must be high from Democrats and Independents if Wisconsin truly does wish to recall Governor Scott Walker (R). The Republicans know it; the Democrats know it. And what everyone knows, but very few polls have pointed out, is this: Independents, in general, do not like Scott Walker very much. And what living Democratic President fired up Independents along with Ds? You guessed it — Bill Clinton.
Note that Bill Clinton, in the past, was not in favor of recalls; he went to California to prevent the recall of then-Governor Gray Davis in 2003, as did several other prominent Ds with national standing (such as John Edwards, then a Presidential candidate). So for him to come here on behalf of Barrett most likely means that Clinton believes the recall of Walker is the right thing to do (in addition to the realpolitik of it all, which is that Clinton, a former D Governor from Arkansas, certainly wants more D Governors).
This visit by the former President should help boost turnout, but more importantly, it will boost optimism that the recall of Walker can and will succeed because Clinton has an excellent record when it comes to helping embattled Ds. As The Hill reports tonight:
Clinton’s entrance into the race could disrupt what had seemed like a likely victory for Walker, however. The former president has posted an impressive record in 2012 endorsements to date, helping Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) and Pennsylvania attorney general candidate Kathleen Kane both win their Democratic primaries after trailing early on. Clinton also helped Maryland businessman John Delaney to a unlikely primary win in April.
So, will Clinton be able to help Barrett also? My best guess is that yes, Clinton’s visit will make a positive difference on behalf of Barrett, Lieutenant Governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, and the four D candidates for state Senator, including my own candidate in District 21, former Sen. John Lehman.
But with all the will in the world — and Clinton does have a tremendous will — this race still comes down to turnout, which is what I expect Clinton to say tomorrow during his visit as he’s no fool. Clinton’s visit will be a boost to Barrett, Mitchell, Lehman and all of the other D candidates for state Senate, but Wisconsin’s voters must go out and vote.
As I’ve said before, my intentions are clear and have been so from the beginning. Scott Walker deserves to be recalled. So does his Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch. So does my sitting state Senator, Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). Which is why I will be voting to recall all of them on June 5, 2012 — and while I would do so without a visit from Clinton, it’s nice to know that Clinton hasn’t forgotten Wisconsin or how hard we’ve been fighting here for the past year and a half ever since Walker “dropped the bomb” and started his “divide and conquer” tactics.
A few days ago (May 20, 2012, to be exact), Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel political columnist Craig Gilbert wrote an excellent blog about District 21 — my district, which currently encompasses the city and county of Racine — and about how divided Racine County has been over the past twenty-five to thirty years. It’s called, “Recall politics is old hat in Racine, where no incumbent is safe.”
Here’s a few words from Gilbert about how unusual District 21 is, even when it comes to the nature of currently fractured Wisconsin politics:
If there’s a battleground within the battleground in Wisconsin’s recall wars, this is it – a political no man’s land where the two parties have spent a quarter-century trading control of the same tenuous turf.
This is the only state Senate district in America whose voters have forced two recall elections.
It’s a district unique in Wisconsin for its volatility and thirst for change. It has changed partisan hands five times in 22 years. It has re-elected its state senators only twice since 1990, and booted them four times, a tally that could rise to five on June 5.
And here’s a few words from former state Senator John Lehman (D-Racine), who’s running against current Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) in the recall race, as quoted by Gilbert:
“It’s a wonderful thing for democracy. It’s very difficult for politicians. You get swept in and out, because it’s such a tight district,” says Democrat John Lehman, who got knocked off by Republican Van Wanggaard in 2010 and is trying to return the favor next month.
And as Gilbert points out in this article, this particular recall comes sixteen years (and one day) after George Petak (R-Racine) was removed via recall over his vote for the Milwaukee Brewers stadium after saying he’d vote “no.” Voters didn’t like it that Petak went back on his word and recalled him; Petak was the first state Senator removed via recall. (I wrote about the Petak-Plache recall here last August; Kim Plache, D-Racine, defeated Petak in the June 1996 recall election.)
See, in Racine, we don’t like it when politicians lie. In fact, we get rather incensed over it. And we will remove a legislator if we feel he hasn’t done what he said he’d do, which is why Wanggaard has legitimate reasons to worry about his own pending recall race.
Gilbert points out that in Racine, we haven’t been too kindly toward any incumbent of any party for the past twenty years or so. This may be because incumbents, in general, become less responsive to voters over time, or it may be that Racine residents pay more attention to their state Senators than they do to their Assemblymen (and women) as none of the Racine contingent in the Assembly has ever been recalled. Whatever the case, Racine voters have recalled a Republican Senator before, which is why this particular state Senate recall race is adjudged the “hottest” race by Gilbert and most political watchers statewide. (The fact that the polls have been extremely close for months between Wanggaard and Lehman may also have something to do with it, though no current polls have been released in the past three weeks.)
Current Assemblyman Cory Mason (D-Racine) is quoted by Gilbert as saying this about recalls in the Racine area:
State Rep. Cory Mason, a Racine Democrat, says the current recall and the previous one share “a similar sort of visceral anger” among voters.
I definitely agree with Mason.
Gilbert pointed out a voter who really dislikes it that Wanggaard and Governor Scott Walker (R) are being recalled, and a voter who highly dislikes it that Walker and Wanggaard are in there, which shows the amount of division in this area. (Read the blog to see these two viewpoints.) Then he quoted this gentleman:
“Everybody is up in arms. Everybody is fighting against each other. Why? Because of one idiot?” said John Amaya. “It’s hot. It could get hotter on the 5th. It’s going to get real hot. I promise to God once (Walker) is out, I’ll go to church for the rest of my life.” (Emphasis added by Barb Caffrey)
The reason I have reproduced (and emphasized) this particular quote is that I’ve heard variants of it for the past several months. Many people — and I do mean many, of all political parties and persuasions — have said that if Walker is voted out, they will go to church on a regular basis. I’ve never before seen this particular response, even though I have lived in other states and have gone through at least one other recall race (the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, D-California, in the early 2000s), but it’s an incredibly popular one these days in Southeastern Wisconsin.
One more important thought from Rep. Mason (as quoted by Gilbert):
Democratic Rep. Mason thinks the Petak race neutralizes the Republican argument that recalls should be reserved for official misconduct, not policy disputes.
“I don’t think that (notion) plays as well in this county. We have people around here who are familiar with and willing to invoke their right to recall if they feel misled,” he said.
Mason is exactly right. I feel misled by the Republicans in general and Wanggaard in particular, which is why I signed the various recall petitions. But signing the petitions is not enough; it’s now time to vote the incumbents (Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Wanggaard) back out. This is why I’m looking forward to voting against Wanggaard, et. al., on June 5, 2012.
Well, it’s official. Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker and various Republican Super-PACs have outspent Democratic challenger Tom Barrett and various Democratic organizations by a 2-to-1 margin according to WisPolitics.com over the past week (ending date May 16, 2012). But considering WisPolitics.com is a pay site, and the article I am using to reference it is through the Huffington Post, I’d rather link to the latter.
The figures for the week of May 9 to May 16, 2012, officially, are these:
- Scott Walker and various Republican groups/SuperPACs — $216,980
- Tom Barrett and various Democratic groups/SuperPACs – $87,980
As you can see, Walker and his allies are outspending Barrett, et. al., by over a 2-to-1 margin. Which if you lived in Wisconsin, you’d know quite easily because for every ad either praising Tom Barrett or bashing Scott Walker, there’s at least six ads praising Scott Walker or (more commonly) bashing Tom Barrett.
While I haven’t seen any figures for the local state Senate race in District 21 between current Republican Senator Van Wanggaard of Racine versus former Senator John Lehman, also of Racine, the ad buys are strikingly similar. For every six to ten pro-Wanggaard or anti-Lehman ads out there, there might be one pro-Lehman ad or one anti-Wanggaard ad (so far it’s been one or the other, not both, which shows a lack of balance with regards to ads). The only difference between the ads thus far is that most of the anti-Lehman/pro-Wanggaard ads have aired on the radio, while the anti-Barrett/pro-Walker ads have aired on TV.
I hate negative advertising, and I hate even more that so many ads have flooded the airwaves. Yet I condemn the Rs — all of them, including the misnamed “Wisconsin Club for Growth” (actually a Koch Brothers front group), Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, etc. — for running ads that distort both Tom Barrett and John Lehman’s records. These ads are terribly biased, and unless you’re aware of what these men actually did, you might think they’re the political equivalent of axe murderers. (Which they aren’t.)
For example, one anti-Lehman ad talks about how Lehman voted for “the biggest expansion in healthcare, worse than Obamacare, in Wisconsin history.” Do you know what the vote Lehman actually took was for? It’s for Badgercare, a state-run health plan that helps give low-income people health insurance for low or no cost. Badgercare actually saves the state money because it allows people to go in immediately when they get sick rather than going in only after things have drastically worsened to be admitted to the hospital via the emergency room.
So why is it that the Rs don’t just say Badgercare instead? Because they know that the vast majority of state voters, including most Republicans, approve of Badgercare because they know it actually saves the state money in the long run.
The anti-Wanggaard and anti-Walker ads are much more factually-based. They talk about what Wanggaard has actually done since he became a Senator — in other words, they talk about his checkable record, and don’t distort it out of recognition. And they talk about what Walker has actually done with regards to education cuts and the results of said cuts — most of the ads have been about education — or about Walker’s large amount of out-of-state travel due to fundraising, which also are truthful, checkable facts.
So it’s clear that the Ds and their allies are for the most part taking the high road. The Rs aren’t; instead, the Rs are taking the muddiest, dirtiest road they possibly can in order to confuse and befuddle as many voters as they possibly can.
Overall, if I were a voter who hadn’t paid any attention in the past year (not that Wisconsin has many of these), I’d be wary of the Republican ads due to how awful they are, while I’d be more kind to the Democratic ads because at least there, a voter can go online to check the veracity of the facts. But as most voters have paid attention, I can only hope that they, too, realize the difference in the ads and don’t get fooled. (Again.)