Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 5, 2011

THE CONSEQUENCES OF WALKER'S FALTERING SUPPORT.... Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) probably thought he'd be in a stronger position by now. Instead, the conservative governor intent on needlessly stripping public workers of their collective bargaining rights finds himself struggling more with each passing day.

The latest development is this Wall Street Journal report, suggesting Walker's united Republican support in the Capitol is showing signs of splintering.

Conservatives in Wisconsin are getting nervous that three Republican state senators may defect on the collective-bargaining reform vote. It's still anyone's guess as to when that vote will take place because Democrats remain in exile to prevent the necessary quorum. But Republicans in the Senate hold a 19-14 majority, so GOP Gov. Scott Walker can afford to lose no more than two Republican senators on this pivotal vote.

On Wednesday, Republicans held a "unity" press conference that was attended by all but one senator, Dale Schultz. But a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showing that 62% of respondents oppose curtailing collective-bargaining rights for public-sector workers over health care, pensions or other benefits suggests that the GOP position may be losing some support among independent voters.

Of course, it's not just national polls. What's very likely scaring the hell out of Wisconsin Republicans is the fact that statewide polls show they haven't won over their own constituents. Even Rasmussen, the GOP's favorite pollster, known for telling the party what it wants to hear, finds that 57% of Wisconsin voters disapprove of Walker.

If you're an antsy Republican in the state Senate, possibly facing an organized recall campaign, the recent surveys are a reminder that the political winds are blowing in the other direction -- and support from an unpopular governor won't do you any good.

It almost certainly won't help matters that Walker, just yesterday, sent out layoff notices to 1,500 state employees, effectively telling Democrats, "Meet all of my demands or the workers get it." No one is fired just yet, but the governor said job losses would begin in two weeks unless Dems agree to his union-busting crusade.

Everyone saw this threat coming -- Walker told the fake David Koch he'd use the layoff threats for leverage -- and neither the unions nor their allies seemed fazed. Indeed, as Greg Sargent noted yesterday, it's quite likely Republicans, not Democrats, would suffer if the GOP governor starts firing workers unnecessarily: "[T]here are indications that the layoffs could exacerbate the current public opinion dynamic, rather than turn it around. That may well be spooking Republicans who continue to stand by Walker."

All it would take is three Republicans in the state Senate to say, "We've had enough." They'd very likely be seen as sensible heroes, ending a divisive standoff, and allowing Madison to get back to work again. That, or they can stick with a flailing governor, who doesn't seem ready for primetime.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

Bookmark and Share

For the first three to switch the recall efforts are dropped. But not for the other five. Come on Dems, time to play hardball.

Posted by: John Dillinger on March 5, 2011 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

The other Republicans in WI know that the public, while it has to wait until 2012 to recall Walker, they can start the recall process on them IMMEDIATELY!


Does anyone think the DC Democrats will have learned anything from this?
Yeah, me neither...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 5, 2011 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

All it would take is three ...
- and ya know I would believe them to , really .

Posted by: FRP on March 5, 2011 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

For the first three to switch the recall efforts are dropped. But not for the other five. Come on Dems, time to play hardball.
Posted by: John Dillinger on March 5, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Wouldn't hardball be to proceed on the recall process against all vulnerable Rep. senators. Don't return from Chicago until they get something more?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on March 5, 2011 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be a coincidence that Scott Walker, George Allen, and Rick Santorum are nearly identical in physical appearance, haircuts, dress, ideology, intelligence, and career choice? I wonder...

Posted by: DelCapslock on March 5, 2011 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah its true , they are all about the invisible hand as much as they are about the invisible intelligence . Yet , wistfully , only Santorum will be remembered a thousand years from now .

Posted by: FRP on March 5, 2011 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder...

Posted by: DelCapslock

-are they Boys from Brazil?

Posted by: DAY on March 5, 2011 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, maybe they all had different mothers, but one of the Brothers Koch as their father?

Or, maybe they were the results of early experiments in in vitero fertilization using Brothers Koch man juice?


Then explain this:
Koch add's life!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 5, 2011 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Santorum, Walker, and Allen sired by one of Kock Brothers, in every sense of the work makes them bastards, and with Allen we get a strong dose of bigotry thrown in, much to the pleasure of many Republicans.

Posted by: Ted76 on March 5, 2011 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

There is no way Madison is going to work for a long time. The Assembly played a dirty trick (which I'm still having difficulty understanding why that 5 second vote was legal or at least not out of order based on RRoO) to pass thus awful legislation (which goes WAY beyond just eliminating collective bargaining). There is no trust between Dems and those lying, POS, GOoPers or their asshole or governor who is openly withholding paychecks and fining the dems who fled the state - nor should there be. There isn't going to be anything productive happening in Madison until Walker and a bunch of these GOoPers are gone.

WI is going to be in a pickle for a long time to come.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 5, 2011 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Now the GOP is a really weird position - The Dems split, so there's no quorum. Some Reubs have gotta switch. But to make that work, the Dems have to trust that those who say they'll switch actually will switch their vote.

After that phone call, I don't know that I would trust any one of them.

Posted by: bignose on March 5, 2011 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

The fake phone tell, and now a uniformed take down of a duly elected Democratic member of the legislature entering the people's building caught on video!

All who would support Prince (and presumably king in waiting) Walker would do so at the risk of being called a jack-booted Republican! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 5, 2011 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

After that phone call, I don't know that I would trust any one of them. Posted by: bignose on March 5, 2011 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly right!! The Repugnant Ones lie constantly and about even the simplest things. Anybody who decided to believe they have changed stripes it truly stupid.

Posted by: Mark-NC on March 5, 2011 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Here's one way the 14 could play it: get all the signatures for the 8 Republican recall petitions signed and filed -- and the SECOND the petitions are filed, come back to Madison and DEMAND a vote right then and there. Let's see how many of these tough-talking Republican bullies doe when face-to-face with the choice of killing their state and their party vs. standing behind The Bastard Scott Walker. My guess is, enough of 'em will fold in the prayer that they could be seen as 'saving' Wisconsin ...

Posted by: EdgewaterJoe on March 5, 2011 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Rachel Maddow has the right idea. Keep talking about the mess that resulted from Walker's firing of public courthouse security as the Madison County Exec. He replaced them with Wackenhut employees and then lost a Court case for doing so - back pay to public employees and rehires. As an aside, it was reported that the Wackenhut supervisor had a record. A constant of loop of the pictures of other Wackenhut employees in Kabul slurping up vodka butt shots and dancing naked except for coconut shell bras and codpieces couldn't hurt . Indirect association, i.e, to repugnant Kabul Wackenhut employees, could be the nudge that ends this Walker creep. Maybe the Koch brothers will have a job for such a smooth operator.

Posted by: Diane Rodriguez on March 5, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK


I agree that moving ahead to recall several Republican senators (why not also some reps?) needs to proceed. But trusting them on the basis of fear for their seats? No way.

Consider how many new Repub tea-baggers have been elected. These are probably not "career" politicians. They will care little about re-election, only about their principles. The reason they sought office was to deal a mortal blow to their state and their constituents. If they only have 2 (or is it 4?) years to do it in, no problem. They'll just do as much damage as they can, no compromise, until they're out, and don't try to shame them with "lame duck" arguments after the election which replaces them.

In short, even if you get "promises" from Wisconsin Repubs, you'd be foolish to actually believe them. Their ends always justify their means. They WILL lie.

Posted by: zandru on March 5, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Milwaukee County

Oh, and it was Milwaukee county, not "Madison County" (Madison is in Dane County) where Walker was executive. Thanks for adding the Wackenhut information, Diane! Another reason the voters might have been more suspicious - at least the Milwaukee voters.

Posted by: zandru on March 5, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Absolutely do not trust anything out of the repubes. They've tricked before. They'll trick again. Keep the pressure up!

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

I picture a Tom DeLay situation here.
Every Republican has received threats of party undermining if they stray from the hardcore, top-down orders or Walker and his puppetmasters.

The plutocracy has little use for egalitarianism. It's their way or teh highway. To negotiate is to relinquish resources and the wealthy are getting SO wealthy that the only two options left are preying on the masses or turning on each other.

If they had anything resembling long-term vision, they would hope to lose, because if they can subjugate the populace, turning each other WILL happen and most of them will be reduced to the same state of the masses they now seek to crush.

Every one of them likely sees themselves as the eventual winner of such a showdown of economic warlords. When there is no such thing as "enough", everyone is your prey and by consequence, your enemy.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 5, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

'When there is no such thing as "enough"'

It's the logic of the cancer cell. Rapid, unrestrained growth that ultimately kills the host. The way business and "developers" work today in These United States.

But the quarterlies look good.

Posted by: zandru on March 5, 2011 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Scott Walker reminds me of Doug Neideriter of "Animal House" fame ("You're all worthless and weak. Now drop and give me twenty."), the ROTC officer at Faber College.

For those of you who are old enough to remember "Animal House", Neideriter was eventually fragged by his own soldiers in Vietnam. So much for Neideriter and his brand of leadership. I think it explains, in part, why so few Republicans of that generation, or the generations that followed, were eager to volunteer their services in the overseas adventures that they so ardently supported.

Governor Walker is obviously not in danger of being "fragged" by his fellow Republicans, but I wonder how many are exchanging nervous glances as they realize that their leader is clearly off his nut.

Posted by: broken arrow on March 5, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Even if three R senators indicate a willingness to vote against Walker, by the time the D's return for a quorum, enough threats will have been made against the three that they will turn and vote for Walker's bill.

The D's can't trust the word of three R's - even if the word is well intended at the time. R's do not play by the rules (witness the dirty vote in the assembly) and those three 'defectors' or their families will be subjected to threats of physical harm. The dog whistles will be made, and the far-right wackos will do home drive-by's, or worse. This is how they maintain unity.

The only leverage the D's have is the recall effort that is well underway with a projected successful outcome. Anything less gives the destructive R's the opportunity and time to raid what is left of the Wisconsin economy for themselves and their overlords.

Posted by: jcricket on March 5, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Walker, just yesterday, sent out layoff notices to 1,500 state employees, effectively telling Democrats, "Meet all of my demands or the workers get it." -- Steve Benen

Actually, what I read sounded more like "get back and then, *maybe*, the workers don't get it in the neck. But no promises." That is, my impression is that, no matter what, he's gonna fire them. But he hopes to put the blame on the "band on the lam".

Posted by: exlibra on March 5, 2011 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know, Steve, but this sounds to me like whistling past the graveyard. This is still a question of who will blink first, a high-stakes games of chicken.

Walker is behaving like Bush Jr. He's politically naive, bull-headed, overcome with the absolute rightness of his ideology, and ultimately doesn't care how much damage he does. He doesn't retreat or admit error. Walker believes that by virtue of his election he has been granted absolute power to do what he wants in Wisconsin, or that he is a prophet showing the way for the rest of the country. President, anyone? He is not a person who can back away. If he loses, which is likely, he will hold grudges and the echoes of this intense struggle will continue in one way or another until he's ousted as governor.

Hopefully the Wisconsin Dems are smarter than the national variety in that they have a spine, and will organize recall elections against everyone of the Rethug state senators supporting this anti-democratic grab for power, and against Walker himself when he becomes eligible for recall. This really is a seminal battle with national implications and the Koch brothers need to learn their money only gets them so far before the common folk rebel.

Support those Democratic state senators who fled with money. Give all you can. I have. This is definitely worth the fight.

Posted by: rrk1 on March 5, 2011 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly