Setbacks For The Wisconsin Republican Agenda

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This has been a notably bad week for Wisconsin Republicans. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued a strongly-worded permanent injunction against the voter ID (otherwise known as “voter suppression”) law, writing-

…voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression… A government that undermines the very foundation of its existence – the people’s inherent, pre-constitutional right to vote – imperils its legitimacy as a government by the people, for the people, and especially of the people.

Niess is the second Dane County circuit judge to issue an injunction against the law; Judge David Flanagan had previously granted a temporary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by the NAACP’s Milwaukee branch. Flanagan, however, has been criticized for his having signed a recall petition against Governor Walker. No such charge of bias has been raised against Niess.

Speaking of recall elections, Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board ordered recall elections against all four GOP senators that had been targeted in the petition drive, and same order is expected soon for Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch-

The Government Accountability Board voted unanimously to agree with GAB staff members’ findings that enough valid signatures were filed against all four senators and recalls against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and three other GOP senators should go forward.

The board also voted to ask a judge for an extension from March 19 to March 30 for its deadline to order the elections, meaning the recall primary could be held on May 8 and the general recall election on June 5. With no extension granted, the recalls would need to happen on May 1 and May 29. The GAB will ask Dane County Judge Richard Niess for the extension at a hearing Wednesday.

Recall elections against Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch are also expected to go forward.

On Monday, Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the GAB, said that about 930,000 signatures were filed against Walker. The GAB said nearly 26,000 had been struck so far, and some 905,000 valid signatures appear to have been filed. Recall organizers had said that number was more than 1 million.

Later Monday, the GAB said that of the 842,860 filed against Kleefisch, there were 813,735 found to be valid. The board’s staff continues to search for duplicate signatures.

The numbers reported so far targeting Walker and Kleefisch are far higher than the 540,208 valid signatures required to trigger recalls.

No recall elections of Democrats seem to be on the horizon.

Finally, a large rally in Madison over the weekend suggests that many Wisconsinites remain enthusiastically committed to the recall efforts-

Thousands of pro-union demonstrators descended on the Wisconsin Capitol on Saturday to voice their anger at Gov. Scott Walker and his conservative agenda, using the anniversary of the passage of his signature collective bargaining law to rally support for efforts to remove him and five other Republicans from office.

An estimated 35,000 people, including many members of public employee unions who lost nearly all their collective bargaining rights because of the Republican-backed law, chanted, drummed and waved anti-Walker signs. It was a re-enactment of a scene that played out daily in some form or another in the weeks leading up to the decisive vote.

“We’re baaaack!” Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, told the crowd at the Capitol Square, eliciting a roar of approval. Neuenfeldt, whose union organized the rally, said Walker has sold out Wisconsin residents to benefit big business, and he called those gathered to redouble their efforts to recall Walker from office.

Of course, the same electorate that swept Republicans into power 14 months ago could rise up to save the six targeted politicians, as a recent poll suggests

Most Wisconsin voters approve of the job embattled Governor Scott Walker is doing and oppose the effort to recall him from office before the next election.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 52% of Likely Wisconsin Voters at least somewhat approve of Walker’s job performance to date, while 46% at least somewhat disapprove. These findings include 40% who Strongly Approve of how the Republican governor is doing and just as many (40%) who Strongly Disapprove.

However, these results no doubt reflect the huge number of pro-Walker political ads that the Governor started running months ago. Whether they will hold up or not when the electioneering gears up on the Democratic side, no one knows. But for political junkies, the next couple of months promise to be quite a ride.