CAPITOL REPORT – 2012
By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Now that the dust has finally settled on the recall elections in the State Senate, it seems like a good time to take a political inventory on the recent turn of events. As we learned last week, Democrats picked up two additional seats in the Upper House. This means that the Republicans now cling to a scant one vote majority, but what impact, if any, will this new realignment have on future legislative policy?
True enough, Republicans still control all three branches of state government in this state. Moreover, it should be blatantly obvious to anyone who has been paying attention that the GOP-controlled Legislature has basically rubber stamped the governor’s conservative, right-wing agenda for all intents and purposes.
During the budget repair debacle which, in essence, nothing more than a smoke screen intended to provide political cover, we witnessed the systematic demolition of collective bargaining rights for state workers. When the contentious vote was finally taken in the Senate, only Senator Dale Schultz, who represents the 17th Senate District, had the political fortitude to do the right thing and break ranks with his governor (Scott Walker).
Starting in September, when the Legislature will next be in session, Senate Republicans will have a razor-thin majority of one vote. Conventional wisdom would suggest that this new political landscape in the Senate will serve to have a moderating effect in terms of legislative policy. I surely hope so, because it will only be a continuation of Walker ’s draconian playlist in the Assembly.
Based on the amount of political ire that this governor engendered, I believe that it’s safe to say that a recall effort is a certainty. In order for Democrats to have any chance at unseating Mr. Walker three things must occur. First, Dems must be well organized in their recall challenge. Second, they must field a creditable candidate that has statewide appeal. I was disappointed to hear that former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has withdrawn his name from consideration for running in 2012 for either Herb Kohl’s Senate seat or a recall effort against Scott Walker. Third, Dems must also be successful in raising considerable sums of money in order to disseminate their message.
One thing is fairly certain. In 2012, Wisconsin will be a battleground state both in terms of national and state politics.
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