Clearly dismayed by their failure to oust Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Democrats and labor officials say they nevertheless can claim some solace in the belief that even in victory, Tuesday’s recall election should serve as something of a warning for Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker beat back the historic effort to throw him out of office, 53 percent to 46 percent, defeating Democratic opponent Tom Barrett. Prompted by Walker’s initiatives to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, the Wisconsin recall was just the third such attempt to drive an incumbent governor from office in the middle of his term.
Walker’s union-busting moves last year prompted massive public protests in the Badger State and elsewhere, and led a band of state Democratic legislators to temporarily flee Wisconsin in an unsuccessful effort to prevent them.
In the end, recall backers complained that they had been dramatically outspent by several deep-pocketed outside right-wing influence groups which flooded the state in the weeks ahead of the recall.
“Despite the disappointing outcome of tonight’s election, there is no question that over the past year this recall effort sent a message to Scott Walker that his brand of divisive politics is offensive and wrong,” says Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, who had been herself criticized for not throwing more resources into the recall effort. “Thousands of Wisconsinites mounted this effort in the face of a flood of out of state, secret and corporate special interest money—amounting to a massive $31 million war chest for Governor Walker to just $4 million on our side.”
AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka cast Tuesday’s defeat in terms of being just the third gubernatorial recall in U.S. history, as well as the “flood of secret corporate cash distorting our democracy.”
“We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people,” Trumka says. “Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies. It’s time to work together to forge a new path forward. The challenge to solve a generation of economic policies and create an economy that celebrates hard work over a partisan agenda gained momentum today.”