If you visit the Wisconsin State Capitol on any given day, chances are Governor Scott Walker will not be there. Even on those rare occasions when he shows up for work, he hides in his office, unlike most other elected officials who roam freely through the building and interact with the public, sometimes taking a little verbal abuse but able to go about their business. Half the state hates his guts and the other half is embarrassed by him. Really, nobody in Wisconsin is saying anything positive about Scott Walker these days, not even his alleged supporters.
That’s probably why, despite winning a close recall election in June, he has voluntarily stopped being the Governor of Wisconsin for all intents and purposes. He has set himself up to cash in (think Sarah Palin with a bald spot) and now he don’t need no stinking badgers.
Instead of governing, he is tweeting in messages from out of state. After recently declaring several dozen Wisconsin counties as disaster areas due to a severe drought, he high-tailed it out of the dairy state to hobnob with Mitt Romney, appear on right-wing cable shows, and tour historic sites near Williamsburg, Virginia while hanging out with other governors. But he’s tweeting to let us know he cares...
Hoping for rain as many WI counties are now in severe drought conditions. I declared a drought emergency last week.He’s hoping for rain. Finally he has embraced a sentiment that we can agree on. Why, he's just Mr. Hopeful, isn't he?...
Wages up 6.7% in 1st quarter of 2012 in WI. Hopefully wages will continue to go up while unemployment rate goes down.Yep, hopefully that will happen. Don’t jinx anything by calling a special session of the legislature to pass any jobs bills, though. Hoping is plenty.
We laid a wreath and read a prayer at tomb of President George Washington in Mount Vernon.Hope and prayers. That’s how you get things done! That and encouraging people to vote in meaningless internet polls:
You can help #Wisconsin win by casting your vote by tweeting #TopStatesWI by Tuesday.
Thx to all who tweeted #TopStatesWI. WI got some of the most buzz on Twitter for #CNBC Top States for Business 2012!There’s efficient leadership for you. No need to waste time sitting down and working with small business owners, farmers, laborers, and legislators to create a real, sustainable economy. Just tweet #TopStatesWI and those gullible, rich job creators will move their companies to Wisconsin. Works every time.
He is staying in touch with voters, though:
Met quite a few people from WI or with WI roots in Mount Vernon.Wow, he met some Wisconsinites. They weren’t actually in Wisconsin but close enough, right? I wonder if they gave him the finger. He doesn’t say.
Frankly, I can't find anyone who even pays attention to Scott Walker or his Twitter Island government-in-exile except a few bleary-eyed bloggers and Walker’s political appointees. Capitol staff are tired of him and weary from the political shit-storm that he stirred up, and there is a dark cloud hanging over Walker called a John Doe investigation that has already implicated dozens of his associates. Even Republicans in the statehouse acknowledge (privately) that it’s only a matter of time before Walker is arrested. He’s a lame duck who is one indictment away from becoming a footnote in Wisconsin history, and his supporters know it. Except for the daily noon Sing Along protest and some kids from summer camps taking tours, the Capitol is now funeral-home quiet most of the time.
Because the recall race on June 5th was called very soon after the polls closed by many national media outlets, the perception was that somehow Walker had won in a landslide, but after all the votes were counted, Walker won with 53%. A clear win (if the votes were legitimate), but no mandate and no landslide. Some Republicans and Tea Party members celebrated by declaring Wisconsin’s progressive movement dead, or by hurling petty insults at left-wing activists, either in person or on social media, but there is good evidence that a significant number of voters voted for Walker because they didn’t feel his actions rose to the level of a recallable offense, not because they support his policies.
Reality has started to set in for the Walker supporters. On the same day that Walker retained his seat, voters in Wisconsin’s 21st State Senate district ousted incumbent Republican Van Wanggaard and replaced him with Democrat John Lehman. The race was close, and Wanggaard asked for a recount (which changed nothing but delayed things for a month), then hinted he might go to court to further delay the inevitable result. Wanggaard decided on the last possible day not to pursue his groundless lawsuit, so Lehman was officially declared the winner this week. That gives Democrats a 17 – 16 majority in the State Senate. The Senate will meet next Tuesday to officially transfer power to the Democrats. There are regular elections for the legislature in November where control could change back, but for now, Walker and the Republicans are impotent as far as new legislation is concerned. Republican Scott Fitzgerald is powerless as the former majority leader in the State Senate. His brother Jeff, Speaker of the Assembly, decided not to run for reelection to that body and is currently in 4th place in the polls in a four-man race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Herb Kohl.
Meanwhile, the progressive movement in Wisconsin has remained totally energized, even gaining momentum after a few weeks of mourning for the recall loss. Grass roots groups are not disbanding as predicted, but are finding new ways to fight on for labor rights, environmental protections, election integrity, and funding for education and health care. The best thing is – these groups are now connected to each other, to the labor movement, to the Occupy movement, and to local progressive government officials. Record numbers of women are running for the state Assembly as Democrats. Ordinary citizens are creating their own podcasts, protest art, and “new media” consortia. The recall tears were temporary and were as much about the joy of participating in democracy as they were about losing an important recall election.
A few weeks ago, the Nuns on the Bus participated in a protest action with the Overpass Light Brigade. This week, Billy Bragg was in town to do a show in Madison and showed up at a noon Solidarity Sing Along at the Capitol:
Workers at the Palermo’s Pizza factory in Milwaukee who are on strike and attempting to organize a union have been showered with support from people across the region. Two years ago, their struggle would have been barely noticed. Now, their cause has become a symbol of hope for thousands of Wisconsinites who have donated money, food, diapers, and more to the striking families. Many hundreds have joined the Palermo’s workers on their picket line.
Russ Feingold spoke a couple nights ago at an event organized by the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice. The auditorium was packed:
Feingold received three standing ovations before, during, and after his discussion about what’s next for Wisconsin. Many of the same people at that event were also at the Billy Bragg concert the night before, or at a recent OLB action, or were just elected to a local political office, or are running for a state office, or have donated time and substance to striking workers at Palermo’s. It’s an exciting time to be a liberal in Wisconsin.
Walker kicked the hornet's nest and then ran away. That was a bad move. A very bad move. He didn’t just make us angry. He made us organize.