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Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has survived the June 5 recall election in his state, the third recall election for a governor in the history of the United States. Also up for the recall vote are Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch – the first ever lieutenant governor to face a recall vote – and four Republican state senators including the majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald. The recall election was enacted when more than 900,000 signatures were organized on a petition – almost double the amount actually necessary.
Walker’s recall election was prompted after he cut collective bargaining rights for most public workers. Democrats tried to stop the bill from passing the legislative stage by leaving the state so that legislative quorum could not be formed, but they were unsuccessful.
Scott Walker’s opponent and candidate for the Democratic Party was Tom Barrett, Mayor of Milwaukee, who was only nominated after a speedy primary last month. The other candidates for the primary were Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive; Doug La Follette, the current Secretary of State for Wisconsin; Kathleen Vinehout, a state senator; and Gladys Huber, a Republican candidate running on the Democratic ticket. After the primary all of Barrett’s former opponents were quick to unite behind him.
Many believe that the Democrats outside of the state of Wisconsin should have done more. The Wisconsin Democratic Party requested more funds from national party but did not receive close to the financial support Walker did. Barrack Obama also never campaigned with Barrett and only acknowledged the election the day before in a tweet, claiming Barrett would “make an outstanding governor.”
All of Wisconsin had been polarized by the upcoming vote. The political landscape was harsh and neighbor was pitted against neighbor. The day of the vote lines were reported before the polls even opened at 7 AM. The election resulted in one of the highest turnouts ever reported in Wisconsin with 60-65% of Wisconsinites voting.
Walker won the election with 53% of the vote and Barrett lost with 46%. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, stated “[these] results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin. Governor Walker has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back – and prevail – against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses.” The White House has expressed they are not concerned with how this election will affect the presidential election in November because Walker outspent Barrett seven or eight to one.
Walker raised $30.5 million whereas Tom Barrett only raised $3.9 million. However, sixty-six percent of Walker’s money came from out-of-state contributions whereas only twenty-six percent of Barrett’s money came from out of state. The Supreme Court Citizens United ruling has allowed even state elections such as this one to grow larger than ever before.
However, during the election there were several instances in which voters were misled or denied the opportunity to vote. The Election Protection group in Washington, D.C received 594 calls from voters regarding issues they have encountered while trying to vote.
Several voters were asked for some form of photo ID even though the Wisconsin government has ended that law recently. There were also several who were denied the right to vote because of a new twenty-eight day residency requirement even though they met the qualifications of the law.
Perhaps the greatest miscarriage of justice was an anonymous robocall that began the day before the election. The call claimed that if the resident had signed the recall petition they did not need to vote during the election. Although Democrats did their best to alert people that this was not the case, it is likely that some voters did not vote because they believed they already had on the petition.
Democratic Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor was outraged by the robocall and urged for an investigation and prosecution of the caller. Taylor reported that she had heard from local WISN reporter Colleen Henry that the robocall originated from the Republican party. Taylor claimed that Henry called back the number from the robocall and got the Republican offices.
After the recall election had been decided, rumors arose that Walker had an illegitimate child with his college girlfriend while attending Marquette University in 1988. The rumors were almost immediately debunked by all news sources.
Now that Walker has been re-elected, he is planning to continue with his budget cuts while he tries reducing the state’s $3.6 million deficit. The Wisconsin Department of Administration claims that these budget cuts will result in the state having a surplus by June 30, 2013. Unemployment in the state is also at 7%, the lowest since 2008.
Although many Democrats are unhappy at the election results, many seats in the state senate will be voted on in the November election. However, some are worried about the results of that election as well since the district boundaries have recently been redrawn by the Republican-dominated Legislature.