By Josiah Cantrall
Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute
Wisconsin residents can finally plug their phones back in and take a deep breath. It’s over. No more political ads, robo-calls, and hopefully– no more re-calls. A mere forty-nine minutes after the polls closed, Governor Walker was declared the winner.
Meanwhile, national and state unions were sent into disarray. Public employee unions were already experiencing massive membership losses, and recent polls show a majority of Wisconsin residents support limiting collective bargaining rights. Powered by out- of- state money and bodies, the unions seemed ready to reverse these trends. Instead the electorate sided with Governor Walker.
Conservatives immediately crowned Walker a rock star, and the union’s once proud vendetta came to a humiliating end. So what does this mean for Wisconsin taxpayers and business owners? More than anything Walker’s victory stabilizes the once divided state and keeps it on its current course.
Walker’s tenure contrasts that of his predecessor, whose administration’s misconduct led his opponents to call him “Diamond Jim Bingo Doyle.”
Governor Doyle raided the state’s medical victim malpractice and transportation funds, ignored a constitutional amendment that limited gambling, advanced a controversial early prisoner release program, raised taxes and fees, and added new regulations.
Unlike Walker’s reforms, which even Mayor Barret used to balance his city’s budget, Doyle’s policies rarely enjoyed public approval.
After Governor Walker’s seven point rout, one can only hope the hyper partisan attacks will finally end. As Wisconsin returns to a state of governability, businesses once reluctant to make decisions will once again feel confident to invest and make long term plans. Unemployment is down, the $3.6 billion deficit has turned into a projected $154.5 million budget surplus, and Wisconsin experienced its first property tax cut in thirty years. Under Walker’s leadership, taxes will only go down from here.
Walker’s popularity has translated into historic support at the ballot box. In a virtually uncontested May recall primary, Walker received more votes than the top two Democratic candidates combined. On Tuesday he won sixty of the state’s seventy-two counties and captured over 206,000 more votes than he did in 2010. He even netted 76,000 more votes than John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Not only is Walker a near lock-in for re-election in 2014, but GOP legislators have become more emboldened to advance his policies despite losing three colleagues to re-call elections. Democrats have declared victory over Senator Wanggaard, giving them a majority in the state Senate, but not necessarily control of the chamber.
Current Senate President Mike Ellis will retain his position unless the Senate reconvenes and replaces him. However, Democrats cannot constitutionally reconvene without assistance from Governor Walker or the Republican-Controlled Assembly – something that is highly unlikely to occur. Ellis’s position gives Republicans a 3-2 majority on the Senate Committee on Organization and the ability to set the chamber’s agenda regardless of the Democrat’s desires. While both sides have downplayed this potential fight, it appears Republicans will ultimately retain control of the Senate even as the minority party.
Re-drawn districts have Republicans poised to win more seats come November, and Walker’s recall election has arguably given Wisconsin conservatives the best ground operation in the country. It’s only going to get better. Effective immediately, all of Walker’s campaign offices are being transferred to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Wisconsin taxpayers can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Walker is the undisputed victor, and we already know where he stands.