You’re Not Invited, GOP

Republican Politicians Banned From Labor Day Parade In Wisconsin

First Posted: 8/29/11 08:34 AM ET Updated: 8/29/11 05:24 PM ET, The Huffington Post
Sean Duffy

WASHINGTON — A group of Wisconsin union officials has voted to ban Republican politicians from a local Labor Day parade, underscoring how partisan the state has become in the wake of this year’s clashes over collective bargaining rights.

The Marathon County Central Labor Council, which sponsors the parade, includes some 30 local unions.

Council President Randy Radtke said in a statement on the group’s website that politicians are only welcome at the festivities if they have demonstrated support for workers’ rights.

“It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain,” Radtke said. “It is a time for working families to come together to celebrate their hard work and a time where we recognize the labor movement for all they have given us — the weekend, the 40 hour work week, child labor protection, a safe work environment.”

In February, the 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin state Senate left the state to deny their GOP colleagues a quorum and prevent them from pushing forward Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) controversial budget repair bill, which stripped most of the collective bargaining rights from public employees. Through a last-minute budgetary maneuver, Republicans were able to pass the measure. All but one GOP state senator voted for it.

On the federal level, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) represents Wausau. In a statement to local ABC affiliate WAOW, Duffy’s office decried the labor council vote. “Having walked in this parade in past years, Congressman Duffy was hoping that for a moment, we could set our differences aside and simply have some fun in a family-friendly event,” a Duffy spokesperson said.

“[The congressman] walks in a lot of parades, and staff called to register a spot last week and was informed in colorful language that no Republicans were being allowed to participate this year,” added Duffy Chief of Staff Brandon Moody in an email to The Huffington Post.

During the winter’s budget fight, the congressman praised Walker but tried to keep his distance from the governor’s stance on collective bargaining. In February, the editorial board of the Wausau Daily Herald called his reluctance to weigh in “just plain lame.”

Radtke said the reaction to his decision has been mixed, with “some negative comments but mostly it has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Other politicians who won’t be welcome at the parade include state Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) and state Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon).

This story was updated with additional comment from Duffy’s office.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified the broadcast network with which WAOW is affiliate. The station is an affiliate of ABC, not NBC.


GOP Holds Onto Control of the Wisconsin State Senate

Wisconsin GOP holds off Democrats in recall elections

By Michael A. Fletcher, Published: August 9 | Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 1:47 AM, The Washington Post

Republicans held onto control of the Wisconsin Senate on Tuesday night, beating four Democratic challengers in a recall election viewed as a referendum on Republican policies in that state and beyond.

The Associated Press declared Republican Sens. Alberta Darling of River Hills, Robert Cowles of Allouez, Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls and Luther Olsen of Ripon winners. The AP also declared Democratic challengers Jennifer Shilling of LaCrosse and Jessica King of Oshkosh victors.

Two Democratic incumbents face recalls next week, but even if they win those seats, the GOP will retain control of the state Senate. That marks a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a crushing defeat for Democrats and organized labor, which poured millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours into the recall effort.

Republicans now hold the majority in both chambers of the state legislature, a status that allowed Walker to quickly put his policy plans into action when he took office in January.

The recalls were triggered by outrage over Walker’s move to sharply curtail collective-bargaining rights for public employees. But the races have become a national referendum on the competing views of government held by Republicans and Democrats.

Outside groups — led by national unions on the Democratic side and limited-government groups such as Club for Growth Wisconsin on the Republican side — have poured more than $28 million into the recall campaigns, shattering all records for state Senate contests in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, the candidates in the nine recall elections around the state between mid-July and mid-August have raised more than $5 million. Much of the money has gone to buy television ads focused on Walker’s policy agenda and the lock-step support he received from the GOP senators who are facing recall challenges.

After taking office, Walker moved aggressively to curb collective-bargaining rights and have public employees contribute more to their pensions, igniting huge protests at the state capitol in Madison.

The governor also has championed a new law requiring voters to show identification at the polls, slashed state education aid and cut Medicaid — all while lowering some business taxes and ruling out any tax increases to balance the state budget.

Walker has explained that his budget policies are aimed at allowing Wisconsin to live within its means while creating a better atmosphere for job creation.

Republicans have pushed similar policies in Florida, Ohio, New JerseyMinnesota and other states. The battle over Walker’s agenda echoes the debate in Washington, where congressional Republicans have refused to raise taxes — or even close tax loopholes — to shrink the budget deficit.

That issue is likely to be at the center of the 2012 presidential race, and the recall elections offer an early test of whether the hard line taken by Republicans in Congress and the states is seen as an overreach or in line with voter sentiment.

Democratic activists have said that if they are successful in Wisconsin’s recall elections, Walker would be their next target when he becomes eligible for recall in January. They also are aiming to capitalize on the energy from the recall battles to help carry them to victory in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Herb Kohl (D), who is retiring.

They also hope the momentum will give a boost to President Obama in a state that he carried easily in 2008, but where Democrats have since struggled, losing both the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

But if the Republicans fend off a Democratic takeover of the state Senate, analysts say, that momentum could evaporate.

“If the Republicans hold the Senate, I think they can see that as a ratification of the policies they adopted,” said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor.

Colbert Takes on Wisconsin Elections [Video]

More Election Shenanigans in Wisconsin

Today in voter suppression (#Wisconsin edition)

By Laura Conaway, The Maddow Blog
Tue Aug 2, 2011 9:42 AM EDT

A man in North Hudson, Wisconsin, has filed an official complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Charles Schultz got one of those applications for an absentee ballot in the mail — you know, the ones that say the deadline for returning is afterthis month’s recall elections. Mr. Schultz’ complaint, by way of the local Patch report:

If I followed their instructions, my ballot would not be legal. I think they purposely intended to discount my vote. I understand such activity to be against the law. I believe I was targeted by this group because I am a Democrat and a senior citizen.

The applications are being sent by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, which insists they’re going only to AFP friendlies. The state director tells the Journal Sentinel:

“This just went out to our members. . .I’m sure the liberals will try to make a mountain out of a molehill in an attempt to distract voters’ attention from the issues.”

Below, a screengrab from the application found and posted by Politico.

The race in this district happens August 9.

“Suspicious” Fire Destroys We Are Wisconsin Offices

Fire Destroys We Are Wisconsin PAC Offices in La Crosse; Recall Efforts Subdued

We Are Wisconsin’s La Crosse headquarters a ‘total loss’ after Saturday morning blaze.

By Mark Maley, July 30, 2011, FoxPoint-Bayside Patch

Fire officials in La Crosse are continuing to investigate a Saturday blaze that destroyed the regional offices of We Are Wisconsin, a union political action committee (PAC) that has pumped millions of dollars into supporting Democratic candidates in the upcoming recall elections.

The La Crosse Tribune reports that the cause of the fire, which started at about 9:30 a.m., remains unknown. Firefighters thought they had the blaze under control in the afternoon, however, that wasn’t the case and it continued into the evening, the newspaper reported.

We Are Wisconsin used the building at 432 Jay St. to oversee its efforts in the 32nd Senate District recall election, which will be held Aug. 9. Incumbent Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke is being challenged by Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Shilling in that district.

A spokesman for the group told the La Crosse Tribune that the group’s office was a total loss.

We Are Wisconsin is a political action committee made up by a coalition of unions that has spent more than $2 million supporting Democratic recall candidates around Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

In the 32nd District, the group has spent about $400,000 to get Shilling elected, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

The group is also active in the 8th Senate District recall race between incumbent Republican Alberta Darling and Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch. In that Milwaukee-area race, We Are Wisconsin has spent at least $570,000 on pro-Pasch ads.

Throughout the day Saturday, those active in the recall effort were taking to Twitter and calling the fire “suspicious” since it occurred just 10 days before the recall. However, fire officials haven’t yet determined the cause of the blaze, according to local media reports.

Gov. Walker Making It Harder to Vote


Making it harder to vote, and trying anyway

By Laura Conaway THE MADDOW BLOG
Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:16 PM EDT




Labor organizer Peter Rickman tweets this picture of people registering to vote in Milwaukee, at a Wisconsin Jobs Now block party.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is reportedly working to close 10 DMV offices. State Democrats say the offices up for closure are in Democratic districts. Starting next year, Wisconsin will require voters to show IDs at the poll. The DMV is a primary source for those.