Was Democratic push for Wisconsin recall a mistake?(Read article summary)
Pundits across the political spectrum are saying the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was a fight Democrats were destined to lose and 'shouldn't have picked.'
âMy side picked a fight they shouldnât have picked,âÂ Congressman Frank told The Hill on Wednesday.
Frank is retiring after 30+ years in Congress so doesnât have to worry if he offends union leaders and other party powerbrokers. (Not that he ever did. Worry, that is.) But heâs not the only Democratic eminence grise to criticize the Badger State recall.
Yes, Rendellâs out of office and also has a history of contradicting his partyâs official line. Plus hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Walkerâs convincing victory has those on the left side of the US political spectrum casting about for something or someone to blame.
But Frank and Rendell are echoing points made by pundits from across the political spectrum. The bottom line: some aspects of the reelection fight pointed toward a Democratic loss entirely foretold.
The first was the ârecallâ nature of the election. It was only the third time in US history a sitting governor faced such a vote. (If you didnât know that already you didnât watch any cable news coverage of this event.)
Turns out Wisconsin voters thought a sitting official shouldnât be recalled except in a dire circumstance. Walkerâs successful effort to strip most public unions of bargaining rights did not qualify as such.
As Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. noted yesterday, exit polls showed that only about a quarter of those who voted thought a recall was appropriate for any reason. Roughly sixty percent said a recall should be used only in case of official misconduct.
âMost voters, in other words, rejected the very premise of the election in which they were casting ballots,â writes Dionne.
Plus, the recall election was a rerun of the stateâs 2010 gubernatorial race, with Walker facing the same opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The âGroundhog Dayâ aspect of the vote only added to voter perceptions that it was somehow a distortion of the normal political process, according to Rendell.
âIf weâre [peeved off] at what a person does in office, the answer is to beat them when theyâre up for reelection,â said Rendell.
Walker beat Barrett by 53 to 46 percent, almost exactly the same margin by which he won in 2010.
In Wisconsin, lawmakers on Wednesday said that their stateâs recall process was a loser in the vote along with Barrett. Democrats also complained about an aspect of Wisconsin recall law which allows the recall target to raise an unlimited amount of money for a period of time during the campaign. It was this legal quirk, more than the fundraising implications of the âCitizens Unitedâ Supreme Court case, which led to the GOP vastly outspending Democrats in the lead-up to Tuesdayâs vote.
âI think itâs pretty safe to say there was a substantial anti-recall faction that played a big part Tuesday,â Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Cullen (D) told the Appleton Post Crescent. âThis is something we will have to think about going forward, how the state handles recalls, especially the part that allows incumbents to raise unlimited amounts of money.â