Election Year 2012 comes with an added twist that political prognosticators throughout the country are focused on: a June gubernatorial recall election that almost perfectly encapsulates the national concerns for November. In an interview from the campaign trail over the weekend, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch addressed some of the implications of whatever happens on Tuesday.
Taxpayers in Wisconsin have been forced to spend millions of dollars to redo a decisive election simply because Big Labor was threatened by policy decisions that it never thought any administration would have the guts to fight for. Many see this as a violation of, if not the law as written, the spirit of the recall process. If Big Labor prevails in this fight, recall might very well become the featured weapon in its arsenal. In fact, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch said that activists have already been sent from Wisconsin to Louisiana to be trained in how to “exact revenge through recall.” This somewhat overlooked aspect of the recall may very well be the most important.
Much has been discussed about the overwhelming Republican turnout for the recent recall primary, most of it seen as a very positive sign for Walker/Kleefisch. The lt. gov. was more cautious with her assessment, however. “We showed them our cards. Now they know we’re really energized and that will serve to energize them. Everybody who comes out to vote for us on Tuesday needs to make sure they bring at least one friend with them to vote too.”
The unions have spent an extraordinary amount of money to facilitate this recall, both in direct contributions to PACs and in mobilization of protesters. Some Republicans have suggested that this might mean there is less union money to spend elsewhere now, but Lt. Gov. Kleefisch said that “there seems to be an underground well of money from them that keeps bubbling up from somewhere and never runs dry.” (On that note — all contributions to the lt. gov. are immediately being turned into ad buys. You can still contribute here.)
In what was taken as a bad sign for the Democrats, President Obama was campaigning in Minnesota and Illinois over the weekend but chose to skip Wisconsin during the pivotal homestretch. Asked to read the tea leaves on this, Kleefisch responded: “Let’s just say you have to work really hard to go from Minneapolis to Chicago and avoid Wisconsin.”
As for the situation in Wisconsin translating to the national conversation, Kleefisch threw a neighboring state into the mix as well to address that.
“There is no better contrast than the two states in the upper Midwest that took very different approaches to solving similar problems–Wisconsin and Illinois. We’ve balanced the budget, there haven’t been any layoffs, and we’ve saved the taxpayers money. Illinois chose to simply raise taxes. There have been layoffs, the unemployment is still bad, and they’ve reached a point where they’re even considering charging school kids to ride the bus.”
Can a Wisconsin-like tipping point finally be reached in troubled states like California and Illinois? Kleefisch thinks so. “Taxpayers ultimately want to be in charge of their own government. We hope to show that when the people are pitted against the Goliaths — the public sector unions — the Davids still have the ability to win.”
Asked if a decisive win for her and Gov. Walker on Tuesday will be spun or dismissed by the Democrats, especially at the national level, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch concluded:
“How can they possibly spin this? There is no consolation prize here. It’s clear — the path to prosperity is paved with fiscal responsibility. And everyone shares in prosperity.”