The Wisconsin Recall Election

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Supporters of Governor Scott Walker gather to celebrate his victory in the Wisconsin recall election. (Scott Olson/Getty)

Wisconsin voters rejected the efforts to recall Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin Reporter's Matt Kittle and The Washington Post's Nia-Malika Henderson discuss the results of the election, and the implications for other 2012 elections.


Nia-Malika Henderson and Matt Kittle

Comments [18]

"Blaska’s Bottom Line: next time someone asks why can’t Republicans elect a moderate, turn the question around on them. Why can’t Democrats elect a moderate?" (referring to Barrett)

Why did President Obama's former Chief-of-Staff, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, encourage Mayor Barrett to run - in opposition to the Union backed candidate, Kathleen Falk - and then fail to supply anything more than pro-forma campaign support to Barrett?

Jun. 07 2012 04:57 PM
Arthur from Brooklyn

While I generally enjoyed this segment, I think it's important not to take guests' assertions at face value. Matt Kittle said that as of three weeks ago, overall spending by pro-Walker and pro-Barrett groups was essentially even. He left open the possibility that this could have changed since then, but what the listener takes away is that unions and progressive groups spent just as much as corporations and right-wing groups.

This is untrue. According to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Project, as cited in numerous news articles (,, pro-Walker forces outspent pro-Barrett forces $48 million to $19 million.

I hope Brian and his producers will note this in tomorrow's show! Yes, unions can mobilize huge resources, but their spending pails compared with corporate groups. Statements otherwise are misleading--they hide the urgency of reversing Citizens United and moving towards a campaign finance system closer to that of New York City.

Jun. 06 2012 01:29 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ hjs - Big money won't help a poor candidate win, but it will add a couple percentage points to a strong candidate by either driving interest or dampening turnout. Say what you will about Walker's deceitful, union-busting ways, he's a good "aww-shucks" campaigner, and the big money

@ Chuzzlewit - Sorry, the union spending doesn't compare to that of billionaire corporations and individuals, in the specific case of Wisconsin or otherwise. Your argument is BOGUS.

Jun. 06 2012 10:48 AM

Mr. Kittle -

Wouldn't a more complete encapsulation of the Wisconsin Recall results be that democracy is alive and well and for sale?

Jun. 06 2012 10:48 AM

If public-sector unions became too expensive for tax payers, that's because unions have become too week in the private sector to keep tax-payer earnings from falling behind inflation and tax revenues with them. This is class warfare: turning tax payers against public-sector unions on the grounds that the latter are getting more than their fair share, when in truth they're getting not only what they deserve but both what private-sector workers deserve as well and what the economy needs them to be earning if it's ever to recover.

The corporate donors that outspent the unions in Walker's recall are sitting on tons of capital that they won't invest because there's no demand in the market. Where's the demand? It's with the capital the wealthy are sitting on as a result of the last 30 years of income redistribution to the top. The elephant in the room is the decline in wages of the majority of Americans. The death of unions is the death of the middle class. Until the Democratic party becomes militantly pro-labor and pro-union they'll remain the feckless middle they've become and allow politics to continue to drift right to the detriment of everyone.

Jun. 06 2012 10:42 AM
Scott from Lower Manhattan

Perhaps we should apply Krugman's test: Has Walker sacrificed any of his priorities to balance the budget?

Walker claims he was rewarded for making tough choices. Since when is crippling one's political opponents a tough choice? Perhaps if the Republican unions, namely police and fire, had to make any sacrifice, Walker could be credited with sacrificing his own priority. Not for what he did.

Jun. 06 2012 10:31 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Kids welcome to the "Walmartization" of the public sector.

So instead of taxpayers being "screwed" by unaffordable union contracts, they will now be screwed by services being "outsourced" to politically connected private companies charging almost the same amount, paying their workers minimum wage (while they get public assistance), offering crappy service, as executives keep most of the $$ as profits.

Remember the "citytime" scandal??

Jun. 06 2012 10:22 AM

But does money even matter? The republicats spent so much more money but the results were the same as the last time these two ran against each other in 2010

Jun. 06 2012 10:21 AM
Scott from Lower Manhattan

One of the factors I've seen attributed as contributing to Walker's win was the primary for Walker's opponent. This raises the question, would Walker have been able to prevail in a California-style recall election in which the voters would have had a referendum deciding whether or not to retain Walker and a simultaneous election for his replacement if he were to be recalled?

Jun. 06 2012 10:21 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Barrett's primary was late.....Leftist / union money has been flowing in since the "siege of Madison" in January 2011. All of this recall (the past 16 months) organizing was paid for by unions. This guy is right....the 30 million to 4 million comparison is BOGUS !!!!
Shame on you, Brian !!!

Jun. 06 2012 10:20 AM
Brian from Hoboken

Congress needs to pass another campaign finance reform law. Let someone challenge it again. The supreme court must realize that the people rule this country and don't want their democracy usurped by a few billionaires, OR by unions. (I did it disingenuous that a union head complained about Citizens United when it actually allowed unions to spend unlimited funds as well). NO ONE- unions or te Koch brothers- should he able to sway elections with their money. This is disheartening.

Jun. 06 2012 10:19 AM

Why laugh at the guy that was crying. He seemed like he was seriously disturbed by the results.

Jun. 06 2012 10:18 AM

Yes, Martin, you are totally wrong: it's not about the concessions; it is about stripping the unions' right to negotiate.

You did what a lot of people on Walker's side did: you simplify the problem to your advantage, but that is not what it was about at all. It was not about the money. It was about the right to unionize.

Jun. 06 2012 10:18 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Politicians should never be "recalled" just for policy, if voters do not like Walker, they should vote him out in four years

I'm not a big fan of special interests $$ in politics - whether it's from unions, big business, or the rich and powerful.

That's what makes Walker's stance so disingenuous. If the Governor really cared about the prevalence of unaffordable union contracts in State Govts, he could have advocated for general campaign finance reform but taking away Unions' RIGHT just to collectively bargain while it's ok to accept $500,000k checks from billionaires ??

Jun. 06 2012 10:11 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Chuzzlewit -

Spend your time and money howeever you want; it's America right? But it was outside _Corporate_ money that destroyed union money to help lead Walker to a 7-1 spending advantage against Citizens United and election spending loopholes, ya'll!

Also, what is lost in the whole Walker debate is the fact that he RECEIVED the concessions that he requested from the public sector unions, THEN he went on to strip them of their rights. What a mensch! Why'd he do that...?

Stuff like this "...As the campaign rolled near a close, in late October 2010, Walker told the Oshkosh Northwestern that he would "ask all state workers" for wage and benefit concessions in the collective bargaining process.

After the election, he proposed imposing concessions without negotiating and eliminating benefits as a topic of collective bargaining."

Walker rejects union offer on bargaining rights!page=13&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst

Jun. 06 2012 10:11 AM
the_hme from Jersey City, NJ

It is sort of scary to know what Citizen United allow so much money to come to wealthy people who sometimes fund most of the re-election of some of these politicians. I hope that the majority of the people in the country can unite against, so that our small donations actually count for something. Noone outside a state should have much say in a state's election as we DO NOT LIVE THERE!!! Shame on all those who gave walker the insane amount of money!!

Jun. 06 2012 10:07 AM


"Why should outside-the-state support only come from unions....and Democrats?"


"Mr. Walker, who raised millions of dollars from conservative donors outside the state, had a strong financial advantage, in part because a quirk in state law allowed him months of unlimited fund-raising, from the time the recall challenge was mounted to when the election was officially called. As of late last month, about $45.6 million had been spent on behalf of Mr. Walker, compared with about $17.9 million for Mr. Barrett, according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan group that tracks spending."- NYTIMES

Jun. 06 2012 09:57 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

I co-hosted an event for Walker in New York (Why should outside-the-state support only come from unions ... and for Democrats?) and he is a good guy who has a simple message when you talk to him: .... if governors can't survive politically when they take the painful necessary steps to curb out-of-control budgets, then there is no hope for future state and local financial solvency. He wasn't doing anything different from what Gov. Mitch Daniels did very successfully in Indiana. The public unions just decided to draw the line in Wisconsin (of course,with a Republican as their pinata) in order to keep it from any means necessary. The question is whether the public unions will now run our states and write blank checks for their own benefit packages.

By the way, did you see that Rahm Emanuel is now channeling Walker? The Chicago teachers' union is demanding a pay raise of 30% over the next TWO years.....and Rhambo is only agreeing to 2% a year.
THAT is why the unions were after Walker's head.

Jun. 06 2012 09:18 AM

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