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Much of Country Focused on Recall Election of Gov. Walker


Tuesday is the big day. Voters across Wisconsin will head to the polls to decide whether Gov. Scott Walker keeps his job. As WUWM’s LaToya Dennis reports, Wisconsin eyes won’t be the only ones riveted on the results. If the tens of millions of dollars groups have pumped into Wisconsin are not enough to prove how significant the recall race is, maybe this did the trick…

“Ordinarily, I’m against recall elections. I went to try to fight one in California. But sometimes it is the only way to avoid a disastrous course.”

In case you did not recognize the voice, that was former President Bill Clinton. He visited Milwaukee Friday to campaign for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

A few hours later, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley joined Gov. Walker in Sussex. Haley told workers at Quad Graphics that other governors are watching closely to see whether Wisconsin voters reward Walker for his courage in weakening public unions.

While the big names were only here for a short time, other out-of-staters have dedicated days, or weeks or months. Kelly Steele is with the group We Are Wisconsin, a coalition of labor groups. Steele says he moved here more than a year ago, to join the protests underway. He says while collective bargaining rights were the catalyst, this recall is now about much more.

“What people are going to look at on Tuesday is what it is that is the consequence of taking an out of state agenda that is funded by millions upon millions of dollars by out of state billionaires who want to impose a very conservative agenda, a very anti middle class agenda,” Steel says.

Steele describes contemporary Wisconsin as a Petri dish for conservative values and policies. Mike McCabe is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a government watchdog group. He agrees, as goes Wisconsin, might go other states and the country.

“Wisconsin I think is seen as the domino, and those national interest want to make sure that first domino falls in a way that favors them because they figure that it’ll probably knock over a lot of other dominos,” McCabe says.

McCabe says a number of interests feel they have a dog in this fight.

“Oh it’s millionaires and billionaires; it’s big corporate interest, the top CEOs of major American companies, it’s national labor unions. For example, we’ve seen an awful lot of national school privatization advocates pouring huge sums of money in here, millions of dollars into this election. For them, this election is about the fate of school privatization,” McCabe says.

For others, the recall is about honoring the election process and allowing those who won office, to govern.

That’s how Jenny Beth Martin, cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots, views the recall.

“I was here in Wisconsin last year in January and February and I watched the way that the center left organized the protest against what Scott Walker had done, and what the state legislature had done with the budget. Then I watched how they went into the Capital and started living in the Capital and occupied the Capital,” Martin says.

Martin has been in Wisconsin for weeks, working on behalf of Gov. Walker.

“I’ve been knocking on doors with people from literally all over the country. From West Palm Beach, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, from LA to New York,” Martin says.

Martin says they’re all here because they don’t want recalls to become a way of life.

“What’s happening in Wisconsin is setting trends around the country and we can’t afford for a representative democracy to be thwarted around the entire country so we’ve got to send a strong message here in Wisconsin that it’s time for it to end,” Martin says.

A number of political scientists have said that no matter who wins Wisconsin’s historic recall, he and his supporters will spin the outcome as a mandate. Then other states may decide whether to follow that lead.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.