Last year, Laura Karvala and her Concerned Citizens of New Berlin (CCNB) political action committee’s unsuccessful recall against Mayor Chiovatero and Ald. Moore was in the spotlight (locally). The recall fizzled when CCNB failed to get the required number of signatures to hold a recall election. According to its press release, CCNB formed to fight low-income housing slated for the City Center. CCNB targeted the mayor mostly because of his Plan Commission vote concerning that issue.
I suspect CCNB’s rationale would irk State Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who is apparently not supportive of recalls that result because some citizens disagree with policy decisions or how the officials voted on issues. More about that later in this blog post.
Many Wisconsinites signed petitions to recall their state senator this year. Indeed, nine state senators in our Badger State faced recall in elections this summer, a truly historic event. Naturally, this received plenty of media attention.
The Senate recalls succeeded in energizing & engaging the electorate and prompted debate on important issues. Although the Journal Sentinel opposed those recall elections, it acknowledges that nearly a half-million people voted in them, with 51% casting their votes for Democrats and 49% for Republicans. The newspaper reports that the contests were fought on mostly GOP-friendly turf.
According to the Journal Sentinel, the GOP lost support in 3 districts. The Democrats won five races and the Republicans won four. Of the three races involving Democrat incumbents, none was close. All three Democratic Senators facing recall were victorious and retained their seats. Two of the six Republican Senators facing recall were defeated.
Hmmm. Not much there for GOP leaders to crow about.
But no doubt, they are relieved and happy that Democrats fell short of flipping the Senate. However, the GOP margin has narrowed to only one vote: Republicans now control the Senate 17-16---down from 19-14 before this summer’s recall elections. This new status may empower moderates, such as Sen. Dale Schultz, a Republican from Richland Center. Schultz was the only Republican who voted against the bill that all but eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers.
One outcome of the recall elections: it may force more bipartisanship in the state Senate.
An Aug. 10 New York Times editorial titled Wisconsin’s Warning to Union-Busters, begins with the following:
“Five months after Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin pushed through a law stripping public unions of their bargaining rights, the Republican Party has paid a price. Two of the state senators who backed the law were thrown out of office by voters on Tuesday and replaced with Democrats. Mr. Walker’s opponents did not succeed in turning over the Senate, but it was still an impressive response to the governor’s arrogant overreach.
Republicans will not admit this, but the numbers showed significant strength for Democrats even in in the districts they lost—strength that could grow if lawmakers continue cutting spending and taxes while reducing the negotiating rights of working families.”
One day after recall elections targeting state Republicans were held, Rep. Robin Vos, one of the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, announced an effort to "recall the recall elections." Vos says he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment during the fall legislative session and intends it to be the first bipartisan piece of legislation passed this fall.
"No longer should taxpayer dollars be wasted on unnecessary recall elections that were triggered by a vote that some special interest group didn't like," Vos said. "It undermines our democracy and wastes precious taxpayer dollars that are needed elsewhere."
But raising the cost of elections by having the GOP run fake candidates in primary elections and pushing through an expensive Voter ID bill is ok, huh?
Yoohoo Mr. Vos: Nearly a half-million voters went to the polls in the Senate recall elections and made their voices heard. That is democracy in action. You want to take a tool away from Wisconsin voters that helps them hold their officials accountable? You want government not the voters to decide what is a “good enough reason” for a recall?!! It really sounds like you favor more power for government and less for the people.
Vos argues he doesn’t want recall elections to be the norm reports The Journal Times. com. But surely he realizes it takes numerous signatures on a petition and considerable effort to force a recall election of a state legislator.
Could it be that Rep. Vos is mostly concerned with protecting his own Assembly job and that of his GOP legislative colleagues?
Democratic State Rep. Brett Hulsey ( a guest blogger on Blogging Blue on Aug. 13) states, “ Removing the statewide recall process from the constitution is a blatant attempt to strip a vital citizen check on government authority. It takes resolutions passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and a statewide referendum to change the state constitution, so this process could take 5 years. That’s fine with the GOP: they figure they’ll control the entire state for the next 10 years now that their unfair backroom redistricting maps are law. But after this week, they know their power can be checked through the recall process, and they're out to do something about it.”
As for getting bipartisan support, Wisconsin Public Television reports that Sen. Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), had this to say and more: “ The day after two Republican candidates were successfully recalled from office, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) introduced a bill to limit recall elections. He claimed it should be the first legislative act of bipartisanship, knowing full well that limiting democracy and the voice of the people, and diminishing political accountability, would be fought strenuously by Democrats, as they have done all session.”