Perhaps one of the best stories this year was Scott Walker’s victory in his recall election. That election was prompted by Wisconsin passing a law that limited collective bargaining for some public-sector unions (most government employees, minus police and firefighters) and forced them to contribute more to their pensions.
Naturally, public unions threw a hissy fit at the thought that they would have to pay for their own benefits rather than forcing other people to pay for them—you know, government-backed robbery. They forced the recall election, but lost badly, and in the end it was perceived as a major blow to labor unions around the country. Not only did it deplete the Wisconsin unions’ coffers, it also damaged their image as a credible threat, and gave strength to more governors to fix their awful state budgets.
In retrospect, though, perhaps the big winner was Lawrence O’Donnell. Immediately after the results came in, O’Donnell proclaimed that the winner of the Wisconsin recall election was, bizarrely, Barack Obama. I derided him at the time, yet it turned out he was correct: Obama went on to win the 2012 presidential election, and took Wisconsin by 52% to Romney’s 46%.
Despite that, though, Walker’s recall victory was a major victory for free market advocates and libertarians everywhere. Let’s hope we can continue the fight under Obama’s second term.
It’s election day. We’re finally here. This grueling, seemingly non-stop campaign ends today. President Barack Obama made his last campaign stops yesterday. Mitt Romney hopes to pickup what undecided voters remain during visits to Ohio and Pennsylvania today.
Despite public polls showing a close race in swing states, though Obama has a slight advantage, Romney’s campaign says that their internal polls show him leading in Ohio and tied in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Writing at National Review yesterday, Jim Geraghty saw reason to hope that Romney will pull off a win tonight. And Aaron Blake surmised that the early voting numbers suggest that the race will be tight. However, Blake points out that “[i]n basically every state, Democrats’ early vote edge is between four and eight points less than it was in 2008.” That could mean trouble for Obama, especially in Colorado, Iowa, and Pennsylvania.
With nearly 100% of the precincts reporting this morning, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has survived the recall challenge, which engineered by Big Labor and state Democrats, against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a healthy margin.
- Walker (R): 53.2
- Barrett (D): 46.3%
- Trivedi (I): 0.6%
Some are saying that the race, given that Walker won by nearly 7 points, could put the state on the board this fall in the presidential election. There is certainly a measure of optimism for Republicans since this recall had such heavy implications. However, Republicans should be too hopeful since exit polling showed President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by 9 points.
The New York Times notes that, while outside spending was heavy in Wisconsin during the course of the race, nine out of every 10 voters had their minds made up by May 1st. Money is great if its on your side, but at some point voters probably started turning off their televisions because they were tired of seeing the flood of ads.
Since 2003 a number of states have passed laws requiring some sort of ID to be shown when a person goes to vote. Proponents of the laws present them as a way to stamp out voter fraud; opponents decry the laws as a way to prevent minorities or the poor from voting, as they are most likely to not have acceptable ID. The battles have waged not only in legislatures but in courthouses as well. Wisconsin’s law was just struck down by a judge and Texas’ law is being challenged by the DOJ.
For a libertarian, it seems like both sides of the argument have been a little disingenuous. Voter fraud has yet to be shown to be anywhere near as widespread as Republicans would like us to think, though this could be because it has heretofore gone undetected. And showing a form of basic ID, often provided at no cost to the voter, is a very low bar and one that is gladly accepted when doing numerous other activities - even buying alcohol or getting into a bar.
So we are left to sit outside and try to figure out which side to take. On one hand, for those libertarians who believe in voting, the integrity of elections is very important. We need to ensure that elections accurately represent the will of voters. On the other hand, though, it is important that no one is prevented from voting for illegitimate reasons. If the laws are an underhanded attempt to disenfranchise certain groups, as opponents say, they are problematic.
The protests in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal that would require public-sector workers to pay more for benefits and pensions, though they’ll still be better off than private-sector workers, and reforms that would limit collective bargaining by public-sector unions are still receiving an incredible amount of attention.
In case you haven’t seen it, here is video a speech Gov. Walker gave last night explaining the reasons for the proposal. You can read the transcript here:
Walker, who has been falsely accused of favoring certain public-sector unions, has warned that unless the measures are passed to help ensure that the $3 billion budget deficit over the next two years can be cut, 6,000 public workers could lose their jobs.
A man in the crowd tells McCain how it is…
There has been a substantial amount of gun-related news over the past few days. As it stands right now, President Barack Obama’s gun control measures are stalled in Congress and there is only tepid hope that they’ll be able to break through the legislative stalemate. But that hasn’t stopped gun-grabbers from pushing in the issue in state legislatures.
In Missouri, four Democratic legislators have proposed a bill that would require law-abiding residents of the state to turn in their semi-automatic weapons (so-called “assault weapons”) to law enforcement within 90 days. The Colorado House has passed a measure that would clamp down on the state’s gun laws. That law, by the way, could lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs in the Centennial State.
It gets worse, folks. In Wisconsin, some Democratic legislators are pushing legislation that would ban the sell of certain types of ammunition, including hollow points. And a gun control push in the State of Washington would essentially strip gun owners of their Fourth Amendment rights by allowing police to search homes for semi-automatic weapons.
More details have arisen regarding the split between Dick Armey and FreedomWorks from this Mother Jones article, reported early this Christmas Eve. The article specifically details a memo that was released by Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks, that outlines his take on the dynamics of the split:
When the news broke in early December that former GOP Rep. Dick Armey had abruptly resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, a powerhouse of the conservative movement and an instrumental force within the tea party, Armey maintained that the nasty split was due to differences he had with the top management of FreedomWorks about the group’s operations and future.
But Matt Kibbe’s memo paints a very different picture of the split.
One of the first actions taken by Dick Armey [after the September meeting] is his attempt to reassess our political priorities. “We have to help my friend Tommy Thompson,” he tells the staff in his first meeting with them. He later tells the staff that he has discussed the Missouri Senate race with “my friend [Senator] Roy Blunt, and he says they really need grassroots cover for Todd Akin.” FreedomWorks PAC had endorsed John Brunner, who barely lost to Akin [in the GOP primary]. We had declined to endorse Akin, even before “legitimate rape” became a late night punch line.
It seems to all be boiling down to Armey saying it’s about a book deal, specifically Hostile Takeover. Kibbe says it’s clearly about the establishment vs. the grassroots, which, ironically, is the entire point of the book.
Last week, we went over the Senate races that are being watched around the country, noting that it was increasingly unlikely that Republicans would take back that chamber this year. As explained, Republicans thought they had the numbers — and they did, at least on paper. However, the campaigns in states ripe for a takeover haven’t gone that well. Perhaps the best examples of this are, as noted before, Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both of which came under fire about controversial comments on abortion in the circumstance of rape.
So with that, here are my predictions for the 15 races that have been so hotly contested this year, including any that are expected change hands. The color of the state is the current party in control of the seat (obviously, red is for the GOP and blue is for Democrats) and the predicted winner is on the right with the color of the text being the party in control of the seat after the election.
This was supposed to be the year for Republicans to take back the Senate. There were plenty of vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year and an anti-incumbent feeling in the air.
But the races for the Senate haven’t shaped up so well for Republicans. While they only need a net-gain of four seats to take control, they’ve found themselves trying to hold on to what were thought of as “safe seats” thanks to strong Democratic candidates and gaffes by GOP nominees.
As it stands right now, Democrats hold 53 seats in the Senate, including two Independents who caucus with them. Republicans have 47 seats. The list of competitive seats below shows that Democrats will cancel out likely Republicans gains in Nebraska and North Dakota with gains of their own in Maine (Angus King, an Independent, will caucus with Democrats) and Massachusetts. There are still five seats on the board as where polls are too close to give an idea of a which party will win.
Here’s a look at the Senate seats up for grabs (current party in control of a seat is colored, incumbents are in italics):