On Tuesday June 5, 2012 the labor movement suffered a blow when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his recall election. Gov. Walker is the first governor in US history to survive a recall election. The recall election was the contentious result of Gov. Walker’s signing into law a bill that stripped away the collective bargaining rights of public employees in March 2011. After the bill was signed into law, the fight to recall Gov. Walker exploded, and has been fiery ever since.
Most Wisconsin citizens, and many around the country for that matter, had very strong opinions about Walker one way or the other. The recall was such a hot topic in the state that 99% of the state precincts turned out to vote.
Walker initially stripped the bargaining rights to adjust the state’s overwhelmingly budget deficiency. Labor unions fought hard against Walker because of this, claiming that he was taking basic rights that protect them and their jobs. This recall is on the heels of a similar Ohio law that was repealed by the labor movement in that state.
So if the labor movement can repeal in Ohio, why not Wisconsin? For starters, Wisconsin has become a major political battleground since March 2011. This recall election was, according to many political advisers, a national election. Wisconsin has historically leaned Democratic in presidential elections, but tides turned in 2010 when both houses became overwhelmingly Republican with a Republican governor.
The national attention on the recall has translated into fodder for the presidential candidates. Mitt Romney, the assumed Republican candidate, recently said of the failed recall that “it [would] echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin,” and that the election was proof that voters really did want to cut state budgets. President Obama said of the recall election, “Obviously, I would have loved to see a different result.”
What does the failed recall mean for the presidential race? This is the big question now that Gov. Walker is remaining governor for the rest of his original term. More than likely, Obama and Romney will pick up where Wisconsin leaves off, and translate the results for their national campaigns. For Obama, this means encouraging the labor movement to stay strong with the Democratic Party, or else more laws stripping collective bargaining could be passed. Romney, on the other hand, will tout Wisconsin as a great success and proof that labor unions do not need the basic protection of collective bargaining.
In the next five months, labor unions will undoubtedly stay a major focal point in the presidential race and each candidate will have to give a lot of effort to either woo or control the labor movement.
For more information about the recall election, view this article from the Huffington Post.