While the national media remained focused on the presidential election, Democrats, particularly big-union, big-government liberal Democrats, were dealt a foreboding blow in last week’s Wisconsin primaries.
The epic Wisconsin battle features a Democrat-sponsored recall election of a Republican governor that dared step on the toes of Wisconsin union bosses by passing laws that require government workers and union workers to make contributions of at least 5.8 percent to their pensions. Before Republican Scott Walker was elected governor, most public workers put less than 1 percent of their pay into their own pensions.
Unions did not lose the right to bargain over member's salaries but cannot secure raises greater than the increase in the cost of living.
Tens of thousands of union members, including government workers, protested for weeks and trashed the Capital building, painting graffiti and sleeping in the building before leaving tons of garbage behind. The sometimes violent protests erupted after Walker signed the bill that prevents unions from bargaining on benefits and pensions.
Democrats ultimately collected enough signatures to force Walker into a recall election which political analysts and media have branded as a harbinger for November’s national elections.
But last Tuesday was a very bad night for Democrats and for the state's organized labor movement. Facing token opposition, incumbent Gov. Scott Walker received 97 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. But what gives Walker more momentum than his nearly unanimous backing is Republican turnout verses Democrat. There were almost as many votes cast for Walker than all four Democrat candidates combined in their primary.
For his part, Tom Barrett, the former mayor of Milwaukee and Walker’s 2010 opponent, won by a comfortable margin of 58 percent to 34 percent against his principal opponent, former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk.
Falk, big unions’ first choice, received the bulk of union money and support and her defeat, coupled with Democrats' relatively poor turnout, could be bad news for Democrats in Wisconsin's recall election which has national implications.
Adding to Democrats' woes, a Rasmussen poll out Friday showed embattled Gov. Walker beating Barrett 50 to 45 percent with only 5 percent undecided.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com