Close, But No Cigar

Wednesday, August 10, AD 2011

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.

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12 Responses to Close, But No Cigar

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • 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!

  • Of the two Repubs who lost, one shot himself out of the race with an adultery scandal, and the the other barely lost in a heavily Democrat district.

  • Isn’t this the same movement where they used physical intimidation against those trying to recall the fleebaggers, plus the “mysterious” stolen signatures?

  • Who’d-a thunk!

    Seems Tea Party Terrorists are viciously threatening union goon squads.

  • More from Jim Geraghty about Kos’s claim that last night’s election was on GOP turf.

  • 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.”

    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.”

  • 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!

11 Responses to Wisconsin Bishops Neutral on Union Issue

  • “The teaching of the Church allows for persons of good will to disagree as to which horn of this dilemma should be chosen, because there would be reasonable justification available for either alternative. (This is unlike the case of abortion or euthanasia, for which reason can offer absolutely no justification in terms of the killing of an innocent victim.)”


  • Hmmm, maybe parishioners should take a neutral stand on funding the diocese. Specially since many will be working with reduced incomes due to economic collapse. I respectfully disagree with the Bishop’s view of the two sides and his assessment of their relative merit. Where is the neutrality in bringing down duly elected government due to decades of democrat/union collusion and maleficence? Where was the Bishop’s helpful remarks during the last several decades of this of this train wreck brewing?

  • There was a commenter over at another blog who observed that for many years, Catholics of politically conservative bent have (rightly) chided Catholic Democrats for being disobedient to the Church on issues such as abortion. Now, he said, perhaps it is the Republican’s turn to have THEIR obedience tested with the sharp anti-union (or more precisely, anti-public-employee union) turn in the GOP.

    Of course I realize the two issues are different in character and degree but I do think this commenter has a point.

    As Bp. Morlino himself notes, the Wisconsin union dispute is a true moral and social dilemma which has valid arguments on both sides and a faithful Catholic could come down on either side — which is NOT true of a non-negotiable issue like abortion. It is certainly not fair to accuse Catholics who side with Gov. Walker in this case of being disloyal “catholycs” a la Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi, as some have attempted to do.

    However, this situation and the recent bishops’ statements should serve as a reminder to conservative/GOP-leaning Catholics to avoid getting too carried away with the faction of their party that opposes ALL unions, not just public employee unions. The Church defends the basic right to unionize, even if this does not translate into a corresponding obligation to all employers, private and public, to hire union members or fulfill their demands. The situation might also serve as a reminder to Catholics not to get too comfortable with EITHER political party or side of the political spectrum.

  • The Church defends the basic right to unionize, even if this does not translate into a corresponding obligation to all employers, private and public, to hire union members or fulfill their demands.

    If the employer cannot be obliged to bargain with this labor cartel, either by law or by rough justice administered by union members, they do not have much purpose other than as fraternal or benevolent associations.

    Questions of fair dealing in contracting for labor and questions of occupational health and safety can be dealt with via state and federal regulatory agencies. These can proceed without imposing unsustainable pay and benefit regimes.

  • I don’t know how much the unions can be thanked or not, since I’m not a union member. But the State of Wisconsin has been bedy bedy good to me. 90K a year, I hardly pay anything into my pension fund, a pension which will be very sizeable, indeed, and health care from one of the finest health insurance companies on the planet, all at hardy any cost to me, and free after I retire. WoHoo!

  • The bill in play does not eliminate public unions, but rather leaves benefits out of collective bargining. Wages and work rules are left in play. When the Church orginally supported the right to organize, I doubt it had in mind the right to extract a posh early retirement, especially one extracted from tax payers–the vast majority of whom do not have a posh early retirement in their future.

    One may as well say that the Pope belives that health care is a right, and since some people claim abortion is health care, one should believe that the Church therefore supports state funded abortion. Just becuase a right exists does not mean that every possible facet of it is reasonable or even permissible.

  • For God’s Sake, we pray..
    If only those so radically fearfull and protective of their union with UNIONS and willing to demonstrate in the streets and the halls of government should it be even the least threatened would be as dillegently active in the preservation of LIFE and MARRIAGE.

  • Make no mistake about it this is a political issue with far reaching consequences. On one hand you have the unions yet these are NOT the unions of the past. They are a revenue generating venue for specific political gain. LEADERS (emphasize) of unions ARE political and many are standing with communist parties. These union dues are being used to support this agenda and the pensions are being used to manipulate the markets.

    On the other hand you have the term union being used a dirty word. Trade unions are not the same as unions set up for civil servants and untrained workers. Trade unions have NO guarantees as to employment and are subject to the economic conditions of the time. In addition, they work for public and private employers and are not solely dependent on the taxpayer.

    Members of all unions SHOULD feel the economic sting of this depression as will all in the private sector. Remember the civil servants are a function of the private sector and MUST represent a fraction of the public sector. For this to happen they must be brought down to parity.

    I am a Catholic first and an American second but I do not see a contradiction in my stand. I see this as a political fight that I must weigh in on and one my church must stay out of for the time being.

  • An interesting point overlooked by the commenters seems to be the point that the public employee unions have agreed to take the pay cuts ordered by Governor Walker. They have chosen to sacrifice economically as many in the state have had to do. What the union members wish to preserve are their rights to collectively bargain as an effective group.
    Where are the statements of the states wealthiest or the large corporations on the sacrifices they are willing to be a part of to help Wisconsin? Their silence is deafening.

  • “Where are the statements of the states wealthiest or the large corporations on the sacrifices they are willing to be a part of to help Wisconsin? Their silence is deafening.”

    In regard to corporations any thing they would contribute to the State of Wisconsin would have to be passed on to their customers. Corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect taxes from their customers. If the Democrats in the state legislature think that a “soak the rich” tax plan is the path to solving Wisconsin’s budgetary woes, then I would urge the Wisconsin Democrat “fleebagging” senators currently in Illinois to go back behind the Cheddar Curtain, resume their seats in the State Senate, and forthrightly make their case. Wisconsin currently has an 8% income tax on those making $225,000.00 plus each year, so all they would have to do is figure how high they could raise it before wealthy taxpayers borrowed a leaf from their book and fled the state.