Wisconsin Governor Recall Election – a Harbinger of Things to Come
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is battling to stay in office in a historic recall election, but the outcome of this election will also impact the upcoming Presidential elections.
With just two days to go, polls in Wisconsin show that the effort to unseat controversial governor Scott Walker is a dead heat with his efforts to cling to his position. According to the Democratic Governors Association, on June 2, polls show that Walker, a Republican is at 49% and his opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett is also at 49%.
Walker has been the source of controversy for the past year, with his efforts to roll back workers’ rights and a proposed bill to restrict voting rights perhaps among the most antagonistic to many. Walker was elected Wisconsin’s 45th governor, defeating Milwaukee Mayor Barrett, and took office January 3, 2011. Controversy started early when he proposed a budget repair bill which seriously diminished collective bargaining rights for the state’s employees. Opponents to this action launched a push for a recall election in November 2011, and received enough support to get one scheduled for June 5, 2012, the first time a Wisconsin governor has been subject to recall. If Walker loses his bid to remain in office, he will be only the third governor in U.S. history to be recalled.
During his campaign in 2010, his second run for the state’s top office, Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs during his first term. According to the Web site, ScottWalkerWatch, an April 2012 report from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, however, states that Wisconsin lost an estimated 6,200 private sector jobs in April, the second consecutive month of job losses. Walker is accused by his opponents of ‘cooking the books’ to mask the job losses, by rejecting the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey and using instead the Current Population Survey, which ignores the fact that many Wisconsin residents actually work in neighboring states. The CES, which asks state employers for data is considered a more accurate representation than the population survey which involves calling residents and asking them if they’re employed, but not ‘where’ they’re employed. The CES is the standard used by other states to determine level of local employment.
Walker’s controversial budget bill was held up by a state court while legal challenges against it were being reviewed.
Both candidates in this historic election are receiving heavy support from outside the state, but the telling statistic for poll watchers is the fact that the voters seem evenly divided between them. Walker clearly appeals to the more conservative voters of Wisconsin for his far right views on social issues, limitations on government, slashing spending, and challenges to public-sector labor unions. His opponents, however, are alarmed by what they view as attacks on workers’ rights, women, and the poor. Walker’s ‘divide and conquer,’ ‘take no prisoners’ approach to governing resonates with those on the far right. His opponent in the recall race has been accused of running an ineffective, uninspiring campaign with his attack on Walker’s leadership that moved beyond the anti-union legislation, according to Huffington Post.
The Wisconsin race, in addition to serving as a harbinger of what voters can expect in the November presidential election, also seems to be exposing the fissures in American society. It seems likely that, regardless of the outcome, there will only be losers.
English: Scott Walker, 45th Governor of Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)