Something very important happened on Tuesday. Tuesday was Election Day in Wisconsin. Now normally an off year election doesn’t carry a big turnout or a lot of interest. But this election was the first state-wide election since Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican allies launched their attack on public employee unions and the middle class by stripping them of their collective bargaining rights. By far, the main event was a race for the swing seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court which is likely to decide whether or not the Republicans in the State Assembly violated the state’s open meeting laws when they passed Walker’s “Budget Repair Act”.
The match up in this race was between Justice David Prosser, the incumbent and Assistant Attorney General Joanne Kloppenburg. In a February primary, Prosser took 55% of the vote to Kloppenburg’s 25%. In 2001, he was elected to a ten year term on the court with 99.53% of the vote. (He was unopposed.)
A funny thing happened between the primary and the general election. Scott Walker began his attack on the middle class. The middle class was not happy about this and began recall drives against 8 recall-eligible Republican legislators. (One petition has already been submitted). In a spectacular display of buyer’s remorse, working people rose up in Wisconsin and fought back. Unions flexed their muscles, and David Prosser was defeated by 204 votes out of a record-shattering 1.4 million cast in the state of 5.6 million. That’s a huge turnout for an off-year judicial election. For the sake of comparison, there were 2.9 million votes cast in the 2008 Presidential election (the state went to Obama) and 2.1 million in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Now, the race is not over. There is likely to be a recount, and rightly so with such a narrow margin.
Don’t let the narrow margin fool you. This is a very big win for liberals and should be a very big wake up call for Republicans who have sought, all across the nation, to malign and vilify public employee unions, to blame them for the state budget crises (Walker passed corporate tax cuts before attacking the unions under the guise of trying to solve a budget crisis that did not exist prior to the tax cuts.) and strip them of their collective bargaining rights and political power. This victory for the left is large and it is deep. 19 counties carried by Walker chose Kloppenburg. Walker’s former post as the County Executive for Milwaukee went to a Democrat.
Democrats across the country need to look at these results and boldly stand up and fight the same fight that is taking place in Wisconsin. President Obama, in the face of a government shutdown also need to take notice and be emboldened to stand his ground against the Tea Partiers in congress, even if it means letting the government be shut down.