Holperin, Wirch Victories shift momentum…Walker hears footsteps

Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch held their seats in overwhelming fashion Tuesday night. The unofficial results from tonight’s recall election, combined with the unofficial results of the recall on the 9th, send a clear signal to Scott Walker and the GOP – the people will govern, not corporate interests or political greed. It is a message that needs to be heard not only in Wisconsin and America, but the world.

Totaling the votes in all nine races, GOP candidates received (as of this writing, 8 precincts in Florence County were still unreported) 229,235 votes. Democratic candidates received 231,138 – again with 8 precincts unreported. While this is a small margin, it rebukes any claim from Scott Walker that these elections validate his policies and  actions. On the contrary, Democrats took away two seats in historically Conservative districts, and have shifted the political momentum going into the fall. Holperin easily carried Vilas county – traditionally conservative, and received a full 60% of the vote in Lincoln county. Wirch won by a near landslide margin, garnering 58% of the vote. Both candidates appear to be on the way to double-digit victories. In addition, Democrats gained votes in each race over the previous general election, while the GOP lost ground.

A recall of Scott Walker appears to be imminent. The only question remaining is perhaps the most critical – when? While there is an air of immediacy blowing throughout the Badger State, there are valid concerns with timing a petition drive in the late fall. There is one certainty in response to those questions. The recall of Scott Walker will happen organically, driven by the people who made this recall session a success – the grassroots, passionate, working, progressive, Democratic, truly patriotic people of Wisconsin. We have to, and will be ready to meet this enormous task. Powered by this energy, we can change the course of politics away from Corporatic, and back to Democratic. On, Wisconsin!

Wisconsin Recalls and Barack Obama – a letter to the President

On the final day of recall elections, where Democrats are poised to defend a near split in the State Senate, along with winning a majority of the recall elections, Badger Democracy submitted the following letter to President Obama. The President has been on a Midwestern bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois – noticeably avoiding Wisconsin. This after responding to a question in Iowa about defending the right to collectively bargain, where Obama indicated that unions and their members should “share the sacrifice” other Americans need to make in difficult economic times. Really… Read on, then let President Obama know what you think.

President Obama,

Today in Wisconsin, the last of nine recall elections are being held. Neo-conservative Corporatist Republicans led by Scott Walker reversed decades of Progressive government in Wisconsin, which threatens the very existence of the middle, working class standard of living. I tell you the obvious, because either you personally or someone on your staff must be apprising you of the situation. That awareness has not been apparent – you have been absent in person, spirit, and policy. Every working Wisconsinite remembers your campaign speech when you stated that you would “walk the picket line” with labor to protect their rights. The recalls in Wisconsin, and the economic attack on working families are about our rights – and I do not belong to a union, but believe very strongly in the right to organize and collectively bargain. This is a right recognized by the United Nations, and has a direct impact on  social, political, and economic equality . You have continued to distance yourself from this fight, and your recent comments in Iowa are very disheartening. It is my opinion, as I have expressed regularly at www.bdgrdemocracy.wordpress.com , is that you are receiving advice from a single-minded group too close to the Friedman/Chicago School of Economics. History acknowledges the role of this school of economics wherever it has been implemented worldwide – and the results are coming to fruition in the United States. A so-called “debt crisis,” high unemployment, dissolution of social and economic safety nets, etc. Of course, the wealthy corporatists reap enormous profits and benefits, as do the politicians who implement and support their policies (ALEC). All at the sacrifice of any attainable standard of living for 90% of working families. It would behoove you to fire your Economic Advisors, and listen to Paul Krugman and Robert Reich – they are correct in what would turn the economy around. The fact is, you lack the political or moral will to stand up to the Corporate Powers pulling the strings. Or you are complicit with them. Either way, you are on course to be the next Herbert Hoover.

In 2008, I voted for you. As a Progressive, I believed the change you promised meant that equal opportunity and equality for all Americans would take a step forward. Instead, the wealth gap continues to increase, and access to the system continues its regression under your watch. Citizens United granted carte blanche for Corporate theft (via money and influence) of our political system, and your recent statements on unions and collective bargaining distance you from the last, best, organized, middle class resistance to this political coup. In essence, you sold us all out after the election for a “deal” which continues to place the economic burden on the vanishing middle class.

Unless your actions change to match your campaign rhetoric, you have lost my vote. I will seek out, support, and stand behind a candidate that reflects the Progressive values we so desperately need (if only Fighting Bob LaFollette were here). As evident in your current bus tour, you have abandoned Wisconsin (Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois,…). I cannot express in words the disappointment I feel in writing this letter. It will be actions, not rhetoric, that will restore the faith many of us Progressives had for you. Until then, many of us will look for a more Progressive voice to represent us.

Sincerely,

Scott Wittkopf, Badger Democracy

New Poll : Holperin, Wirch in lead v. Simac, Sietz and “Blogging in Black”

A new poll from Daily Kos and Public Policy Forum show both Democratic Senators Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch with double-digit leads going into the final days before the election. In the 22nd, Bob Wirch leads Jonathan Steitz 55%-42%, 3% undecided, with a margin of error of 2.9%. In the 12th, Jim Holperin leads Kim Simac 55%-41%, with 4% undecided, and a margin of error of 2.6%. Should this scenario play out, the Senate would be virtually split 17 (R) – 16 (D), with Republican Senator Dale Schultz being a key swing vote. Schultz was the sole Republican casting a vote against Scott Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill,” and has publicly accused the Governor and GOP leadership of holding him in a meeting with the Governor during a key committee hearing while discussing a compromise to the bill.

While this bodes well for maintaining a balance of power in the Senate, in the words of Yogi Berra, “…it ain’t over till it’s over.” In the final 30 hours, it is time to bring this victory home! Any time you can spare to Get Out The Vote, contact the Holperin Campaign, the Wirch Campaign, or Call Out The Vote from home (in your pajamas if you want). There are clear differences between the candidates, and we need to make sure that our Senators will stand up for Progressive Values in Wisconsin.

Beginning today, Badger Democracy takes on a new appearance – “Blogging in Black,” inspired by the Johnny Cash song:

“Man In Black”

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.

Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought ‘a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen’ that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen’ that we all were on their side.

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin’ everywhere you go,
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything’s OK,
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.

Until Progressive Values have replaced Corporate Anarchists, Badger Democracy will continue to be “Blogging in Black.”

SOLIDARITY!

“Unions, Collective Bargaining HELP the Economy, Wages, Equality” – Harvard Study

 Our state and nation’s economic condition of a chronically recessive economy has allowed the Tea Party and neo-conservative elements to create a “debt crisis” as a means to push economic policies which will further stagnate the economy. One of the central issues to our state economy is the decrease in real wages over the past decade. Consumers (in an economy of consumption) have less disposable income based on real wages than a decade ago. Subsequently, there has been a huge increase in the wealth gap – with fewer people controlling more of the wealth, shrinking the middle class economy:

 

study conducted by Harvard University and The University of Washington, published in the American Sociological Review  this month proves why Collective Bargaining rights should be of great concern to anyone interested in preserving a middle class in Wisconsin and America. The study, “ ” Unions, Norms and the Rise in U.S. Wage Inequality,” found that the decline in union power and density since 1973 explained a third of the increase in wage inequality among men since then, and a fifth of the increased inequality among women.”  In addressing educational inequality, the study found “The decline of the U.S. labor movement has added as much to men’s wage inequality as has the relative increase in pay for college graduates.” The study adds that “union decline contributes just half as much as education to the overall rise in women’s wage inequality.”  The study found effects in non-union wages as well, stating  “the decline of organized labor held down wages in union and non-union workplaces alike. Many non union employers — especially decades ago, when unions represented more than 30 percent of the private sector work force — raised wages to help avert the threat of union organizing.” Perhaps most notably, the study addressed rising inequality in the economy, and the workplace:

“In the early 1970s, when one in three male workers were organized, unions were often prominent voices for equity, not just for their members, but for all workers,” the two professors wrote. “Union decline marks an erosion of the moral economy and its underlying distributional norms. Wage inequality in the non union sector increased as a result.”

The two professors note that the decline of unions is part of a common account of rising inequality that is often contrasted with a market explanation that includes technological change, immigration and foreign trade. They argue that the market explanation usually understates the role of organized labor’s decline on increased inequality.”

This decrease in real wages and increasing wealth gap has crippled the middle class in America, and consumers’ ability to sustain any economic recovery. What many Progressives and Labor leaders have been saying for decades has been proven with the release of this study. Contrary to the Corporatic propaganda, there are economic and social benefits to strong unions – a message they want to suppress and distort. The battle in Wisconsin is for the existence of a middle class and a political check to Corporate Anarchy threatening the existence of a Democratic process. This information is another weapon at our disposal to combat right-wing lies and rhetoric.

…And Get Out The Vote for Holperin and Wirch!!!

Recall Action…Defend Holperin, Wirch – then Forward to Walker

A look at defending Democratic Senate seats, communicating a resonant message, economic impact of Collective Bargaining, and the future of a Scott Walker Recall…

Part I – Defend Democracy – After Tuesday’s historic recall election and the victory by Jen Shilling and Jessica King, Progressives need to focus on defending the seats held by Jim Holperin (12th Senate District) and Bob Wirch (22nd Senate District). With the political future of the state hanging in the balance, these races require every effort to stand with Senators Wirch and Holperin on Tuesday, August 16th. Spokesmen for the Senators told Badger Democracy today that there is a tremendous push this weekend from both Senators in traveling throughout the district, making personal contact with constituents. In addition, scores of volunteers are hitting the phones and pavement in a final push to get out the vote. Both campaigns need our help! Holperin and Wirch are longstanding residents and fighters for the people in their districts, and Wisconsin. The GOP challengers in each district – Kim Simac (Tea Party “darling”) and Jonathan Steitz (Illinois-based Corporate Attorney, Free Trade advocate) would be disasters for their districts and the state. Help them GOTV by going to their websites and volunteering or donating today (Eagle River, Rhinelander and Kenosha County are beautiful this time of year!). If you cannot be there in person, you can help “Call Out The Vote” by going to www.calloutthevote.com and signing up for a “virtual phone bank” shift from home. 

Part II – Communicate the Message – At the Jackson County Fair in Kathleen Vinehout Country, the County Dems held an informal (but very telling) voter poll. Jackson County is a fairly split area of both moderate conservatives and progressives. Their poll gives a great indication of the message Progressives should communicate to resonate with Wisconsin voters moving into this recall week, and forward to recalling Scott Walker. When asked to name their top state spending priorities, the overwhelming choice was Public Schools, followed by affordable Health Care and Elderly/Disabled/Child Services (Badgercare, Seniorcare, Medicaid etc.). These are all issues that Democrats can and should win on – the preservation of Great Wisconsin Public Schools and taking care of our Seniors, Children, and those with Disabilities with an affordable, responsible social safety net. The poll’s primary question asks if Public Employees have a right to Collectively Bargain. Affirmative responses outnumbered negative nearly 10 – 1. Restoring Collective Bargaining Rights does resonate with voters, and should be a key part of the message – for no other reason than its economic impact.

Part III – Economic Impact of Collective Bargaining – Our state and nation’s economic condition of a chronically recessive economy has allowed the Tea Party and neo-conservative elements to create a “debt crisis” as a means to push economic policies which will further stagnate the economy. One of the central issues to our state economy is the decrease in real wages over the past decade. Consumers (in an economy of consumption) have less disposable income based on real wages than a decade ago. Subsequently, there has been a huge increase in the wealth gap – with fewer people controlling more of the wealth, shrinking the middle class economy.

 

study conducted by Harvard University and The University of Washington, published in the American Sociological Review  this month proves why Collective Bargaining rights should be of great concern to anyone interested in preserving a middle class in Wisconsin and America. The study, ” ” Unions, Norms and the Rise in U.S. Wage Inequality,” found that the decline in union power and density since 1973 explained a third of the increase in wage inequality among men since then, and a fifth of the increased inequality among women.”  In addressing educational inequality, the study found “The decline of the U.S. labor movement has added as much to men’s wage inequality as has the relative increase in pay for college graduates.” The study adds that “union decline contributes just half as much as education to the overall rise in women’s wage inequality.”  The study found effects in non-union wages as well, stating  “the decline of organized labor held down wages in union and non-union workplaces alike. Many non union employers — especially decades ago, when unions represented more than 30 percent of the private sector work force — raised wages to help avert the threat of union organizing.” Perhaps most notably, the study addressed rising inequality in the economy, and the workplace:

“In the early 1970s, when one in three male workers were organized, unions were often prominent voices for equity, not just for their members, but for all workers,” the two professors wrote. “Union decline marks an erosion of the moral economy and its underlying distributional norms. Wage inequality in the non union sector increased as a result.”

The two professors note that the decline of unions is part of a common account of rising inequality that is often contrasted with a market explanation that includes technological change, immigration and foreign trade. They argue that the market explanation usually understates the role of organized labor’s decline on increased inequality.”

The Collective Bargaining benefits to the working middle class, jobs, and economy; Public Education, and caring for our children, seniors and the disabled are clear, resonating messages which can be carried into this week and on to the imminent recall of Scott Walker.

Part IV – The Recall of Scott Walker – The petition drive and action to commence a recall, it seems will happen sooner rather than later – whether by authentic grassroots or deceitful GOP initiation. We need to be ready and unified now. The recall elections on the 9th demonstrated Walker’s vulnerability. In GOP stronghold districts, 33% (2 of 6) seats were flipped. When you look at the actual numbers for each district, the GOP garnered less votes in those areas than when Walker was elected. The fact is, Walker lost votes from a mere 9 months ago – and his poll numbers continue to tank. He is still very vulnerable, and we need to stay engaged and energized to accomplish this task. We must defend Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch, first and foremost. We must begin immediately with a message that will resonate with moderate Wisconsin voters, including the benefits of restoring collective bargaining rights to jobs and the economy. Finally, we  must all unite in the greatest political movement since the Progressive days of Bob LaFollette. We have the opportunity to make history, and stem the tide of Corporate Anarchy – together, as One Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

Recall perspectives – bigger than Kathy Nickolaus and Alberta Darling

The final race has been called – Alberta Darling keeps her Senate seat. The emotional roller coaster of this struggle, and the controversy surrounding Kathy Nickolaus make this particular race a difficult one to lose. Alberta Darling  is by far one of the most polarizing state political figures – and ethically challenged. It is obvious to any objective observer that Nickolaus is incompetent.  There is also reason to suspect more irregularities in Waukesha County when votes are held back for so long, and have a history of being just the right amount at just the right time. There is already an investigation after the Supreme Court election fiasco, and there may be another, although at this hour it appears the Dems are backing off their claims of election fraud – we shall see. If I lived in Waukesha County, I would be ashamed at this level of incompetence. Unfortunately these days, Waukesha County  politics resemble Chicago more than a city in Wisconsin. The latest AP numbers show Sandy Pasch trailing by about 5,000 votes. The ultra-conservative collar counties of Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington could not be offset by Milwaukee County, or gains in GOP areas. Nonetheless, one has to be encouraged by what occurred today, and what it bodes for the future.

Anyone in denial that today’s events change the balance of power in Wisconsin are in for a rude awakening. Voters in historically Conservative districts, which remained Republican through the Obama “wave”, sent two very progressive women to the State Senate. Voters in Luther Olsen’s district nearly sent him packing, after he ran unopposed in his prior election. Fred Clark has made progressive advances in a generally conservative rural area. The election today by its turnout alone, places every GOP legislator on notice that the People are ENGAGED. Record, to near-record turnout shows that people are paying attention – and there are traditional Republicans that voted for Democrats today. They will continue to do so, as long as the truth of the Walker/GOP/Corporatic agenda and policies are disclosed and experienced by working Wisconsinites. Our struggle is still in its infancy. We have much to accomplish and today was the first of many steps.

We must be certain the media spin does not dilute the energy or impact of increasing a Progressive presence in the State Senate by two great women. Tonight Wisconsin made history, and will again. Next week, we have two seats to preserve, and we will. We must also engage GOP Representatives (such as Dale Schultz) for their cooperation and participation in returning to a Government by the people, and for the people. The first chapter, from January through today has been written. Chapter two awaits – the continued awakening of the Progressive movement, leading to the certain recall of Scott Walker.

The movement continues, one day longer, one day stronger – and two Senate seats stronger. Congratulations Senators-elect Shilling and King, and thanks to Fred Clark, Nancy Nusbaum, Shelly Moore, and Sandy Pasch for standing up for Wisconsin. We will need all of you and each other in the coming weeks and months. Solidarity, and Forward to support Senators Holperin and Wirch in their election next week. Scott Walker and his Corporate handlers will not cooperate or capitulate; the only course is his inevitable recall and their defeat at the hands of Progressive Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Winning Recall Challengers Assume Office Immediately – GAB

Since there have been numerous questions posed as to when a successful recall challenger would take office, Badger Democracy contacted the GAB for a definitive answer this morning.

In a phone interview with Badger Democracy, Mike Haas of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board advised that should a Democrat recall challenger win, they assume office “immediately upon certification of the election results.” After certification, they have 10 days to qualify” (take the oath) of office. Haas cited Wisconsin State Statute 9.10, subsection 5b regarding election procedures. The GAB would follow legal procedures regarding any recount challenges, but once the election is certified, the incumbent would be out of office, and the challenger required to qualify within 10 days to assume office.

That being said, any Democrat who wins tomorrow would take office immediately upon certification (usually about one week barring any legal challenges).

VOTE!