Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker

One of the most amaz­ing polit­i­cal sagas in recent mem­ory is play­ing out in Wis­con­sin. Here are a few of the high­lights — the full story would fill a novel. And a great novel it would be. Now, I’m a sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy writer, but I wouldn’t touch some­thing like this. It’s too unbe­liev­able for the my own pre­ferred genres.

Newly-​​elected Wis­con­sin Gov­er­nor Scott Walker pushed a seri­ous union-​​busting mea­sure through the state leg­is­la­ture ear­lier this year, result­ing in mas­sive protests at the state cap­i­tal, protests which were echoed in other places around the country.

Gov­er­nor Walker used a pro­jected deficit in the state bud­get as an excuse for these mea­sures. We know the state bud­get was really just an excuse, and the real goal was to bust the unions, because the unions agreed to the cost sav­ing mea­sures. Walker still insisted on the mea­sures that would nearly dis­man­tle the unions, and remove nearly all col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights for most state workers.

The Democ­rats in the state leg­is­la­ture fled the state to deny a quo­rum to the Repub­li­cans, so the union-​​busting mea­sure couldn’t be voted on. Gov. Walker attempted a num­ber of tricks to bring them back, includ­ing offer­ing to nego­ti­ate, with the intent that as soon as they were in the cap­i­tal, the Repub­li­can sen­ate leader would call the cham­ber to order and hold the vote with­out the Democ­rats being present. But this scheme was revealed by a prank caller from the Buf­falo Beast, and the Democ­rats stayed away.

The Repub­li­cans passed the mea­sure any­way, using a pro­ce­dure of ques­tion­able legal­ity. They stripped the anti-​​union mea­sures from the finan­cial mea­sures in the bill, and passed the union-​​killing por­tions sep­a­rately, under rules that allowed less than a quo­rum. But they vio­lated the state’s Open Meet­ings law, by not post­ing the mea­sure as far in advance as the law requires.

Demo­c­ra­tic state leg­is­la­tors took the law to court, and Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi who heard the case found against the Repub­li­cans, and ordered imple­men­ta­tion of the law be sus­pended. The case was, how­ever, clearly headed for the Wis­con­sin state Supreme Court.

One pos­si­ble snag for Gov­er­nor Walker, how­ever, was that the court’s chief jus­tice, David Prosser — a long­time Repub­li­can par­ti­san — had to undergo a reëlec­tion. The vote was very close, and on elec­tion night, April 6, the ini­tial vote count had Prosser los­ing to his oppo­nent, JoAnne Klop­pen­burg, by some 204 votes. This result sur­prised most polit­i­cal observers, because Prosser had been expected to win reëlec­tion hand­ily. It was taken as a sign of how unpop­u­lar Walker’s poli­cies had become.

How­ever, two days later, Wauke­sha County Clerk Kathy Nick­o­laus (who used to work for Prosser)  “dis­cov­ered” some 11,000 pre­vi­ously uncounted votes from a heav­ily Repub­li­can dis­trict, hid­ing in her per­sonal lap­top com­puter (the votes, not the dis­trict or Nick­o­laus). Prosser was declared the win­ner, with a mar­gin of about 7500 votes.

The Wis­con­sin Supreme Court heard the appeal of the case involv­ing the union-​​busting bill and, to no one’s amaze­ment, found that the vote of the Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors did not vio­late the state’s Open Meet­ings Law.

But the saga does not end there. Wis­con­sin vot­ers were so out­raged by this series of events that they have col­lected peti­tions in an effort to recall as many Repub­li­can state sen­a­tors as pos­si­ble. In response, Repub­li­cans have attempted to recall Democ­rats. Here are the details:

Wisconsin’s recall law con­tains a con­di­tion that any effort can­not begin until at least one year into a term — mean­ing that only 16 mem­bers, eight Democ­rats and eight Repub­li­cans, could cur­rently be recalled. In order to ini­ti­ate a recall, peti­tion­ers must gather sig­na­tures equal to 25 per­cent of the total votes within that dis­trict in the pre­vi­ous guber­na­to­r­ial elec­tion. After var­i­ous peti­tion dri­ves this past spring, recalls have now been cer­ti­fied for six Repub­li­cans and three Democ­rats, with the oth­ers hav­ing failed to meet the threshold.

Wisconsin’s Repub­li­can party is not done with its games. They rus­tled up enough sig­na­tures to have recall elec­tions for three Demo­c­ra­tic state sen­a­tors as well. And, in an effort to con­fuse the recalls, they set fake can­di­dates — Repub­li­cans run­ning as Democ­rats — to slow down the recalls against Repub­li­cans, thus requir­ing “recall pri­maries.” This will force Democ­rats to waste money run­ning against imposter pri­mary oppo­nents. It will force Wis­con­sin to waste money hold­ing fake pri­maries. It will allow the Repub­li­cans another month to raise money — which is impor­tant to them, because their fundrais­ing is trail­ing their oppo­nents’ by a lot.

The fake pri­maries were held yes­ter­day, July 12. The actual recall elec­tions for these seats will be held August 9. In addi­tion, next Tues­day, July 19, there will be “real” pri­maries for two Repub­li­cans, and one actual gen­eral recall elec­tion, in which incum­bent Demo­c­rat Dave Hansen is heav­ily favored to win. The Democ­rats must pick up a net gain of three seats to take con­trol of the Wis­con­sin state Senate.

The results of yesterday’s fake primaries:

Demo­c­rat Nancy Nus­baum defeated fake can­di­date Otto Junker­mann with about 65% of the vote.
Demo­c­rat San­dra Pasch defeated fake can­di­date Gladys Huber with about 66% of the vote.
Demo­c­rat Shelly Moore defeated fake can­di­date Isaac Weix with about 54% of the vote.
Demo­c­rat Fred Clark defeated fake can­di­date Rol Church with about 67% of the vote.
Demo­c­rat Jes­sica King defeated fake can­di­date John Buck­staff with about 67% of the vote.
Demo­c­rat Jen­nifer Shilling defeated fake can­di­date James Smith, with about 71% of the vote.

Stay tuned. This saga is far from over.