Walker benefited from recall election process that GOP now professes to abhor | Wis.Community
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Walker benefited from recall election process that GOP now professes to abhor

[img_assist|nid=51968|title=We are all GOP now|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=170|height=177]This has been said before, but it can't be said often enough in light of current Wisconsin Republican Party rhetoric:

State GOP officials profess to be all upset about the six recall elections targeted against officeholders of their party in the state Senate. A Republican-friendly letter-writing campaign is well under way. Republicans and third-party critics decry the idea of mass recalls, saying voters should just be patient and wait until the next regular election (two or four years from now, depending on the lawmaker) to express their displeasure over a blitzkrieg of expensive and abusive GOP policy-making in Madison.

But wait a minute. How did Republican Scott Walker become governor? Well, he was a Republican Assembly back-bencher from Wauwaotsa for a few years until a pension funding scandal erupted in Milwaukee County early last decade. After weeks of acrmony, conservative interest groups managed to get enough petition signatures to put a series of special elections on the schedule. Here was the timeline and the key outcomes:

  • Jan. 6, 2002: Citizens for Responsible Government launches recall campaign against [Milwaukee County Executive Tom] Ament.
  • Feb. 26, 2002: Ament resigns.
  • April 30, 2002: Scott Walker is elected county executive on a reform platform.
  • 2002-2003: Seven county supervisors who voted for pension deal lose recall elections.

So, EIGHT key Milwaukee County lawmakers fell from office, either because of the threat of a recall or an actual recall that resulted in a special election. Republicans were not at all upset by this turn of events and said not one negative word about it. Walker, obviously, was a prime beneficiary of the recall activity. He was the very first conservative Republican ever elected to the job of Milwaukee County executive. He promptly began slashing budgets and dinking around with the contracts of represented county employees, leading to a number of lawsuits -- a couple of which have been succeeded in overturning his decisions at great expense to county taxpayers.

The upshot is this: Republicans who claim special elections are inappropriate as a means for voters to express displeasure over incumbent policy decisions are complete hypocrites. They now control the East Wing of the Capitol precisely because the threat of a recall election led to a special election and the rise of Walker into a highly visible and very powerful job. A perch from which he was looking almost at once at the possibilities of attaining higher office.

It would be ironic and hugely karmic if Walker himself has to face a recall election next year. But for now his party's Senate majority is in doubt and for his party to complain about that is another example of Republicans arguing, in so many words: Ignore what we used to so and say, this time it's different.

Published

June 8, 2011 - 4:36pm

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