Close, But No Cigar

Unions spent north of $30 million* in a recall effort in Wisconsin in order to gain control of the state senate.  Six Republican senators faced recall elections, and the Democrats needed to win three in order to win control of the upper house.  They won two.  What’s more, two senate Democrats face recall elections next week, and the GOP has a good chance to win at least one of those two races.  So, in the end, the unions would have spent $30 million to gain a whopping one seat.  Not a very good return on investment.

Evidently the “news” team at MSNBC was trying to spin this as a victory for Democrats, but that strains credulity past the breaking point.  Of the two seats they won, one was in a fairly Democratic district and the other involved a scandal-plagued senator.  In fact, as Ed Morrissey suggests, this should be seen as a big defeat for big labor.

Next Tuesday, two more recall elections take place for the state Senate, this time two of the fleabagger seats, thanks to the reaction from the GOP to the union’s efforts to recall Republicans.  It’s possible that the unions will go 0 for 3 in 2011 and end up handing back the two pickups they got last night.  The unions will have ended up spending millions to end up right where they began — locked out of Madison — while adding a powerful display of electoral impotence to their brand.  They have discredited themselves with Wisconsin voters in a way that Walker and the GOP couldn’t possibly have planned, the victim of their own arrogance in attempting to overturn elections for no other reason that protecting their own featherbeds.

Markos Moulitsas is pushing the kool-aid that this is a progressive victory over at Daily Kos.  It’s actually kind of cute to see a man so delusional.

Beyond Wisconsin, if we can enjoy a similar “loss rate” in Republican-held districts (picking up 33 percent of them), Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a huge majority in 2013.

Yes, because the rate of victory in a special election in one state featuring roughly 1/5 of one legislative chamber is clearly a sign of things to come.

It’s going to be a long year, and tens of millions of dollars of Koch money (in addition to hundreds of millions more from Rove and allies) are going to force us to fight like hell for every inch of territory. They won’t cede it willingly or fairly. They’ll do their best to cheat or buy whenever they feel they can’t win fairly.

This is going to be the rallying cry for progressives.  As always, they complain when people besides themselves actually spend money and campaign against their interests.  I get a particular sense of amusement from the bellyaching about the evil Koch brothers, because it’s not like the Democrats have their own deep-pocketed sugar daddy, right?  And really, do guys like Kos want to talk about cheating to win elections?

But I can understand Kos’s wishful thinking.  They were on the precipice of revolution.  That revolution was halted in the fall of 2010.  This election was to mark the turnaround that jumpstarted that revolution.  The good people of Wisconsin were to throw off the shackles of their tyrannical GOP overlords and send a stinging rebuke to the heart of that evil monster Scott Walker. The people would finally join the progressives and take the necessary step to inch them closer to the utopia.

And then the people of Wisconsin sort of yawned and said they’ll keep the government that they have, thank you very much.

Dagger.  So what’s left to do?  Admit defeat?  Acknowledge that maybe the populace isn’t as enamored with your lofty plans as you’d like?  What are you crazy?  No, it’s time to just double down, retrench, and like Homer Simpson  cry out that “It’s still good!  It’s still good!”

Whatever you say, Markos.

*: $30 million figure seems to be a combined spending figure.  Union amount was in the $15 million range, give or take.  Still a lot invested for little return.

12 Responses to Close, But No Cigar

  • Joe Green says:

    I live in the 12th Senate District, one of two seats up for grabs next Tuesday, and it appears Kim Simac, the Tea Party candidate, has a good chance of beating Jim Holperin, one of the notorious 14 Dems who skipped town back in Feb. Holperin has outspent Simac at least 2-1 thanks to the huge union war chest, but the election is rated a toss-up. If she loses and the Dems take the other contested seat, then they regain control of the Senate by one vote.

  • Paul Zummo says:

    If she loses and the Dems take the other contested seat, then they regain control of the Senate by one vote.

    That’s not quite correct Joe. Both of the seats up for recall next week are Democrat-held. The best the Dems can do is retain a one-seat disadvantage.

  • Joe Green says:

    From the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel:

    By keeping a majority in the Senate, Republicans retained their monopoly on state government because they also hold the Assembly and governor’s office. Tuesday’s elections narrowed their majority – at least for now – from 19-14 to a razor-thin 17-16.

    Republicans may be able to gain back some of the losses next week, when two Democrats face recall elections.

    Full story can be found here:
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/127435173.html

  • This was a rout for the Democrats. The unions and the Democrats hand picked these seats to challenge and the unions blew 30 million bucks, all to take two of six, in special off-year elections normally easily dominated by aroused pressure groups like the unions in Wisconsin. And all of this in formerly blue Wisconsion, one of the most union dominated states in the Union. Times truly are changing. Thanks Dems and unions of Wisconsin for helping to underline that point!

  • M.Z. says:

    To kill some dumb memes:
    1. The Democrats were not selective in choosing recalls. They filed recall petitions against every eligible Republican.
    2. The Obama numbers are deceiving and were largely reflective of national issues, particularly dissatisfaction with the Iraq war. I think two of the districts coinciding with Kagan(D) losing to Ribble(R) after having defeated Green(R). The Walker margins in each of the districts were significant in 2010, averaging 13%.
    3. Joe Green is incorrect. The Democrats can only lose seats in the two races next week. They can’t gain any.
    4. There are no such things as moral victories in politics. The Democrats gained 2 seats they didn’t have when they started yesterday. They could have gained 4. They very easily could have only gained 1. But alas 2 is the number. A retention rate of under 80% is generally not seen as promising by any party. It is very difficult to get a person elected. Keeping a person elected is relatively easy.

  • Trying to paint this as anything but a disaster for the Unions and the Democrats is a hard task MZ and I salute your efforts.

    I tend to agree however with that notorious right wing rag The New York Times:

    “Two Republican state senators lost their seats in recall elections around Wisconsin on Tuesday, but Republicans maintained their control of the State Senate, ultimately handing a defeat to union groups and Democrats who had spent months and millions of dollars trying to wrestle away at least some of the state’s political power.

    The outcome was seen as a victory for Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican whose move to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers this year set off a firestorm of protests, then counterprotests and finally a summer of unprecedented recall efforts.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/10/us/politics/10wisconsin.html

    Mickey Kaus, one of the more insightful bloggers of the moderate Left puts it well:

    “Unions Lose Again in Wisconsin: It looks as if the organized labor movement has failed to recall enough Wisconsin Republicans to regain control of the state senate. That’s a) in an off-year election where union turnout usually makes the difference b) in famously progressive Wisconsin c) after spending many millions d) with a nationwide media and organizing push e) when labor had a galvanizing issue in Gov. Scott Walker’s direct assault on the institutional collective bargaining power of public employees, which led to a dramatic walkout by Democrats.”

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/08/10/unions-fail-again-in-wisconsin/

  • Don the Kiwi says:

    Don.
    A totally irrelevant comment.

    You’re blogging at 4.04 in the morning?
    The last time I was up that early, I hadn’t got home yet ;-)
    Mind you, that was a number of years ago now.
    Regards all, time for bed. (We’re actually on the same day at the moment) :-)

  • Early to bed and early to rise Don! I am normally in bed by 10:00 PM-10:30 PM and I normally rise between 4:00 AM-4:30 AM, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. On Wednesday morning I didn’t awaken until 5:15 AM when I was roused by my wife waking up!

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