In 2010, Wisconsin had a rightward shift that surpassed all expectations. On the national level we gained one seat in the Senate (replacing far-left Russ Feingold with Tea Party favorite Ron Johnson) and three in the House.
But on the state level, both houses of our legislature flipped to GOP control, and we also elected a Republican Governor, Scott Walker.
So the stage was set for an epic battle between Republicans and the Democrat/Union nexus. In early 2011, Long before anyone had heard of "Occupy Wall Street," our Capitol, in Madison, was occupied for weeks/months by leftist activists of all flavors. Democrat State Senators fled to Illinois and stayed there over a month rather than cast a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. Allegedly there to prevent the bill's passage, in fact, what they were doing was delaying the process so that public sector unions could quickly renew contracts with municipalities across the state before the bill went through.
There was so much nonsense visited upon us in 2011, that I haven't the energy or space to list it all. But I will mention that when votes were put to the people, the Democrats and their Union Masters lost every time.
First, an attempt to replace Justice David Prosser with union ally Joanne Kloppenburg failed, and failed gloriously. Kloppenburg claimed victory on election eve when she led by a mere 200 votes. But when the final tally was given, and she lost by over 2000 votes, she demanded a costly recount -- which showed that she lost by an even larger margin.
Not to be dissuaded, the Democrat/Union nexus then attempted a recall of Six Republican State Senators in an effort to flip Senate control back to the Democrats. Though they managed to get two recalled (one of whom was already on thin ice with a personal scandal) our Senate remains in GOP control.
Rather than rehashing old news, I'll just link you to this excellent piece in City Journal that explains how Scott Walker's economic reforms are working very well for our state. In recent weeks, we're hearing about a lot of businesses moving to Wisconsin. Things are really looking up.
So naturally, the Democrats want to undo all this progress.
I provide the above as a backdrop to what's happening now.
As you probably know, we're in the middle of another recall season. Democrats are hoping to recall Gov. Scott Walker as well as four more Republican State Senators, including one from my Senate district.
Last month all the recall petitions were turned in, and now begins the long process of verifying them. The Government Accountability Board, which oversees this process, announced last December that it would accept obviously fake names on petitions (Mickey Mouse, Adolf Hitler) as long as the addresses were valid. So it's falling to the citizens to go through these petitions and verify them by themselves. (Democrats had earlier demanded that the signatures quickly be counted and the verification process halted . . . you know, before the fraud could be discovered.)
So many fraudulent signatures, in fact, that the recall effort against State Senator Scott Fitzgerald just might not happen after all.
In perhaps what is the most stunning news of the reports, it appears that the recall of Senator Scott Fitzgerald may not take place at all after only 12,833 eligible signatures were discovered among the recall petitions when 16,742 valid signatures were required. Only 14,061 unique names were found on 3,623 pages. While 340 recall pages were inaccessible, given the average of only 3.9 signatures per page, this might only add 1,320 signatures to the total before ineligible signatures are thrown out. This would still find the recall effort below the 16,742 threshold.
(EDIT: See comment #11 below. It's possible that there are now enough fraudulent signatures to nullify recall efforts for all four GOP State Senators.)
But the Democrat/Union nexus soldiers on. The Government Accountabililty Board, which is rapidly proving itself to be a highly partisan body, announced this week that they will not accept evidence of fraud presented by third-party groups.
So back to court we go! (Good thing we didn't end up with Joanne Kloppenburg, eh?)
Citizen volunteers are entering signatures from recall petitions into a massive, searchable database at the rate of 2.7 every second–hoping to uncover any evidence of fraud. However, all that work could go to waste if the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board gets its way.
On Wednesday, GAB staff told the Board it was decided internally that it will not accept any evidence of fraud from individuals or third-party groups. Only the official election campaigns of those officials being recalled may participate in reviewing the hundreds of thousands of signatures on the petitions.
Yet, groups like Verify the Recall, which has over 13,000 volunteers working to verify the signatures, are not allowed to coordinate their activities with political campaigns, since it could violate their non-profit tax status.
Verify the Recall, however, is not throwing in the towel. The independent effort, a project of two Wisconsin Tea Party groups, is working on a court challenge to the GAB’s decision, demanding that citizens be allowed to participate in the review process.
“The whole concept of recall is for citizens to hold their government accountable, and that’s what we’re doing too,” Ross Brown, Verify the Recall organizer, told the MacIver News Service on Wednesday. “The truth is the truth. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.”
The recall petitions have all been scanned in, and can be accessed here. Tens of thousands of pages to go through. This is a thankless job.
However, some enterprising blogger has started posting the petition pages with sometimes laughably inept attempts at fraud. Check out Wisconsin Recall Fail.
There are so many more stories to tell about what Wisconsin has been through this past year. I would encourage other Wisconsin Ricocheteers to chime in.
I think there are two lessons to be learned here:
First: attempts at economic reform, particularly when it threatens public sector union entitlements, are going to be met with hardcore resistance, not just from the unions, but from the entire left-o-sphere. What we've seen in Wisconsin this past year has not been pretty. I can only imagine what we'd see if serious efforts at entitlement reform were attempted at the federal level.
I admire Scott Walker for calmly moving forward with his agenda in spite of all the nonsense, both political and personal, that he's had to face. Scott Walker should have been Time Magazine's Man of the Year.
Second, and far more positively: as outlined in the City Journal article I linked at the start: it's working. People are seeing that it's working. Last summer's recall efforts failed, and that was before the results started coming in. Now that people are actually seeing positive results from Gov. Walker's reforms, I am starting to think that none of these recalls (which are estimated to cost the state $18 million) will succeed.
School districts are suddenly finding savings, are able to hire more teachers, keep the good ones, and even reduce class sizes. (The above is not necessarily true of the school districts who renewed their contracts with the unions, by the way.)
Wisconsin gets tagged as a Blue State, but Wisconsin is Purple. Obama won here easily in 2008. In 2000 and 2004, presidential elections here were very close and within the "margin of fraud." (Ask any Democrat and they'll tell you voter fraud doesn't exist in Wisconsin. Laugh at them.) Wisconsin is Deep Purple. But we're having a Red-Shift.
I want to mention again what I said earlier. In 2010 and 2011, every time Citizens were allowed to have a voice, every time votes were put to the people, the Democrats and Unions lost.
Things are changing. What lies ahead for Wisconsin is uncertain, but I'm feeling very positive about it today.