In U.S. elections, incumbent governors have an 80 percent chance of being re-elected. So why is Wisconsin’s Scott Walker having such a difficult time convincing voters to give him a second term?
Many observers would quickly assume this has to do with the lingering resentment of Walker’s union busting, which brought an end to 50 years of public employee collective bargaining in the state and touched off what has become known as the ‘Wisconsin Uprising’ .
Others may conclude that it is Walker’s failed promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term that has voters thinking twice. It is a promise Walker made to a public that in 2010 was growing weary of a worldwide crisis in finance capital and was desperate to get back on its feet. The promise looks even more ridiculous today as just this week a tractor plant in southeastern Wisconsin announced the layoff of 150 UAW workers.
In reality, even if the public’s memory of all of Walker’s failures could be erased by his multi-million dollar Koch brothers funded TV buys, they can’t ignore the numerous missteps of his current re-election campaign.
In a moment reminiscent of President Jimmy Carter going on TV to scold the public in his infamous “malaise speech,” Walker made one the most serious errors of his campaign when he was being questioned about his failure to create any meaningful jobs in the state. During a televised debate Walker explained, “We don’t have a jobs problem in this state; we have a work problem.” Meaning – it isn’t his fault Wisconsin workers are unemployed and savaging empty food banks for sustenance. It is their own fault. They just don’t have the skills needed to fill the available jobs.
As if that wasn’t enough to send the voters scurrying to Walker’s opponent, he took another tumble in the polls when in a meeting with the editorial board of Wisconsin’s largest circulation daily newspaper he said that in terms of the minimum wage, “Well, I’m not going to repeal it, but I don’t think it serves a purpose…”
Repelling the votes with his message of 1 percent dominance, and opening a new front in the GOP “War on Women,” with his statements in favor of government enforced mandatory motherhood by declaring he was against the option of an abortion even in the cases of rape or incest, Walker changed his tactics to pure voter suppression. The Republicans went to court to get a new ruling in support of a dead voter ID law. Initially the ultra-right was successful and the voter ID law was reinstated, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling shortly reversed the decision and Wisconsin voters can still register at the polls and cast a ballot without a bought and paid for ID.
As Walker continues to fumble, Wisconsin workers, environmental activists, and students continue to organize a massive fight-back to send Walker packing.
With the polls consistently dead even it is now in the hands of the voters, turnout is the key, and that is why every shop floor and feed mill, every campus and clubhouse, is reverberating with the same refrain, “Unite and defeat the ultra-right! Dump Walker!”
Photo: Some 150,000 people, including farmers with their tractors, protested Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP union-busting and outrageous budget proposal, March 12, 2011. (John Bachtell/PW)