Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The Walker Recall
Opponents of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker filed petitions supporting a recall election yesterday that included more than 1 million signatures. The thrust of the recall is against Walker's successful efforts to balance the state budget, which prior to his term was facing a $3.6 billion deficit; to hold down property taxes (again, successful); and to restrain the growth of government spending by restraining the benefits paid to government employees, including teachers (again, successful, as Walker pushed through provision requiring modest contributions by Wisconsin public employees to their own pensions and health care). Opponents also decry the Walker administration's support of a new voter-ID law requiring voters to have a suitable form of identification prior to voting as a means of curtailing voter fraud (of which there were many examples in the 2008 and 2010 cycles in Wisconsin).
This may be the first time in American history where a politician has faced recall, not for corruption, and not for failure, but for success in doing exactly what he promised to do. And what are the Democrats really offering as an alternative: "A vote for us is a vote for deficits, higher taxes, Cadillac benefits for public employees and teachers, and election fraud." Is that really a platform that can win in Wisconsin? If it can, then we are doomed.
Two notes on the 1 million signature figure seem in order. First, of course that seems like a lot, and the Democrats (and their union bosses) clearly wanted to get to that number for PR value. But there are roughly 4.3 million voting age residents of Wisconsin. In the 2008 Presidential election, roughly 2.9 million people voted. So the 1 million figure represents perhaps 35% of so of the likely voters, and around 23% of the voting age residents. That won't be enough to defeat Walker, not even close.
Second, of course the 1 million figure is inflated with fake signatures by "Mickey Mouse," by non-residents signing, by individual signing multiple times. In California in 2003, when Gray Davis was recalled, eighteen percent of recall petition signatures were set aside as fraudulent. Here I would suspect that the figure might be even higher. But say 20% of the signatures are fraudulent. Think what that says about the people supporiting the recall. They hate the idea of losing their government benefit gravy train so much that they are willing to commit felonies! Will any be prosecuted? Why shouldn't there be an immediate call by Republicans for a federal investigation focused on the large-scale conspiracy to commit election fraud that is staring us in the face?
Finally, you can't defeat Walker, who has only gained support among Republicans and independents in Wisconsin, without running a good candidate against him. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett already lost big to Walker in the first go-around. Other names touted are right out of the Madison left-liberal playbook: Kathleen Falk, the Dane County Executive; State Sen. Tim Cullen; Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca; State Sen. Jon Erpenbach.