Was the failure to recall Scott Walker all about the money?


The general sentiment put forth by those seeking to diminish Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s defeat of a recall is that he really has no accomplishments to illustrate a successful governorship.  They say that exit polls suggest that most people voted against the recall, because people do not care for recalls.  They also say that money played an unfair role in the recall effort as Walker outspent Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett 2.5 to 1.  They say that Walker was a mediocre candidate, but the reason Democrats lost is that Barrett was such a poor one.

If it was true that Walker didn’t have an accomplishment before, he does now.  He’s the first governor in the history of the United States to defeat a recall attempt.  Some of the accomplishments that Walker listed in his bid to avoid being recalled were that Wisconsin added 23,608 jobs during his first year in office 2011.  This number is listed as half true by Politifact.com.  They write: “Is the final word in, we’ll know on 6/28/12.”  Walker also stated that, “We’ve seen property taxes go down for the first time in 12 years on a median valued home.”   Politifact.com rates this mostly true, with the addendum: “Not lower for everyone, but median-value measure is on target.” {1}  I don’t know if those who stand against Walker would list these as accomplishments, or if they would attach qualifiers to these numbers, but I’m going to guess that there would be nearly forty-nine other Governors who would love to recite numbers like those in their bid for re-election.

Politifact.com also rates it mostly true (94% of the time) that politicians with deeper pockets win,{2} the greater question is not why does one politician win with more money, but why does he have more money?  Walker opponents say that the only reason he won was the money.  It has been reported that Walker outspent Barrett by $27.1 million in this recall attempt.  In the original 2010, Walker versus Barrett election, Walker only outspent Barrett by $4.1 million.{3}  These figures, when broken down into ratios, are 2.5 to 1 in the recall election and 1.6 to 1 in the 2010 election.  This is unfair, say the anti-Walker crowd, it is not Democracy.  We need more laws against corporate and out of state donations in state elections.  The question that those who decry money in elections never bother to ask, when their guy loses, is why their guy wasn’t more successful in raising money?  Well, they would say, Walker was just better at fundraising.  He appealed to special interests and corporate concerns.  How?  Did he just walk into his fundraising venues and say I’m a Republican, give me money?  Did he state that he would appeal to corporate concerns over those of Wisconsin citizens?  On the latter, Walker obviously won both over by getting corporate money and citizen’s votes.  One could list that a pretty healthy accomplishment for a politician.  On the former, contrary to popular belief nouns (people, places, and things) don’t generally donate to a guy just because he’s a member of a particular party.  Some do, of course, but not to the degree they did in Walker v. Barrett or in Obama v. McCain.

On that note, there were some conservatives that were upset that President Obama outspent McCain 5 to 1 in the 2008 election for president, but most of us saw that McCain’s own election reform legislation did more harm than good.  Some conservatives were upset with the methods the Obama campaign used to generate money, but very few of us called for more election reform.  Most conservatives recognized that it was a pointless exercise to attempt to claim that Obama only won because of the money.  Most of us recognized that the nouns were all out for Obama.  They gave him loads of money, because they believed in what he was campaigning on.  The same is true for Walker.  If Walker were the mediocre governor that the liberals claim that only appealed to special interests, he wouldn’t have raised as much money as he did from out of state donors that wouldn’t have their special interests directly affected by anything he did.

Walker’s 2010 election campaign, and his 2012 defeat of a recall attempt, listed fiscal responsibility as its primary goal in pursuit of Wisconsin governorship.  It said that public sector unions have overreached for decades now.  His new law on unions sought to make union membership in the public sector voluntary, as Governor Mitch Daniels did seven years ago in Indiana.  It attempted to end automatic government collection of union dues.  He stated that years of corrupt union-politician back-scratching had been bankrupting the state.  And he had just enough time to demonstrate the beneficial effects of overturning that arrangement: a huge budget deficit closed without raising taxes, significant school-district savings from ending cozy insider health-insurance contracts, and a modest growth in jobs. {4} As a result, money from donors around the country began pouring in.  These donors wanted Walker’s attempts to loosen the public sector union’s stranglehold to be attempted in their own state.  They approved of the precedent that Walker was risking his career to achieve, and they sent millions in support of it.

The Democrats who walked out of the state legislature, the unions, and the union supporters who trashed the capitol lost everything.  They couldn’t convince the DNC to give Barrett more money, they couldn’t convince private and corporate donors to give them more money, and they couldn’t convince voters to vote against the candidate who received more money.  They lost attempts to overturn the Scott Walker law, when they lost in a race to seat a chief justice of their state’s Supreme Court Justice that would overturn it.  They lost in their attempts to recall State Senators that would support Walker’s law.  Then, one could say they compounded their humiliation when they initiated a recall attempt on a governor only to have that governor win by a larger margin than he achieved in his election.

When that faction of the media that favors Democrats and unions, and loathes Scott Walker and the private sector, talks about this race, they will talk about the money, they will talk about the mythical and impossible to refute voter suppression, and they will talk about the exit poll data that suggested that some voters voted against the general idea of recalls.  They may even talk about Barrett being a poor candidate, but they won’t talk about one of the major issues of this campaign.  They won’t tell you the primary force that drove Democrats and unions to initiate the desperation move of trying to recall this governor, and it is that part of the law that allows public sector employees the freedom to choose whether or not they wanted to remain in the union.  Prior to the law passed under Scott Walker’s govenorship, the Wisconsin state government had an automatic collection of union dues taken out of public sector employee’s paychecks.  The law provided public sector employees to decide whether or not they wanted to remain with the union and have their paychecks deducted involuntarily.  More than 50% opted out.  If the law was so harmful to public sector employees, why would more than 50% of them opt out?  It makes no sense of MSNBC viewers, for they’ve never been told that.

As Charles Krauthammer says in his column: “(The Public Sector union’s stanglehold on Wisconsin’s economy) couldn’t go on. Now it won’t. All that was missing was a political leader willing to risk his career to make it stop. Because, time being infinite, even the inevitable doesn’t happen on its own.”

It’s the human condition to seek excuses for why we fail, and psychologists state that it’s actually quite healthy to be delusional.  If we accepted things the way they are, and quietly soaked in our own failed juices, we would most assuredly become deeply depressed by it.  So, no one is saying that Walker opponents should stop pounding the table over Governor Scott Walker’s election results, but that doesn’t mean that the facts will change.  .

{1} http://www.politifact.com/personalities/sscott-walker/statements/

{2}http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/oct/17/occupy-wall-street/occupy-wall-street-protesters-sign-says-94-percent/

{3} http://combatblog.net/?p=3820

{4}http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-what-wisconsin-means/2012/06/07/gJQAafvCMV_story.html

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