Walker the Wisconsin winner

After spending millions of dollars in coerced dues and other funds, Big Labor got a slap in the face today as both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch handily won their recall elections. And even if they flip Wisconsin Senate seats off the 16-16 tie that currently exists (a seventeenth Republican resigned her seat rather than face recall) the Wisconsin legislature will not meet before the November elections.

As I write this, it appears that Walker will beat his 52-47 margin over Democrat Tom Barrett – the lead seems to be fluctuating between 15 and 17 points this time around, with over half the vote in.

It’s interesting to note that Barack Obama didn’t stop and attempt to save Barrett in the waning days of the campaign despite being in both Minnesota and Chicago in recent days. Once the DNC pulled the plug it seemed like the tale was told. It’s also amazing how the polls were so far off – the RCP average had Walker up, but only by 6.7 points. Individual polls had it from 3 to 12 points, so obviously someone was asking the wrong people.

There’s no question the White House and media (but I repeat myself) will spin this as a local result, not indicative of the national mood. They can afford to throw Big Labor under the bus because what are unions going to do – suddenly do an about-face and vote for Romney? No, like an abused spouse the unions will return to the Democrats.

But this also reverses the victory Big Labor got last November after spending millions in Ohio to defeat Senate Bill 5, a sweeping reform package passed by Ohio Republicans and backed by Governor John Kasich. After mobilizing thousands in Ohio and Wisconsin to protest – and forcing a number of recall elections in Wisconsin – it looked like Big Labor was ready to flex its muscles. Sorry, not gonna happen.

Of course, there’s also another person to blame this on. You may not recall this, but in the first leg of his national tour Martin O’Malley campaigned for Tom Barrett in Wisconsin last Tuesday. Perhaps Badger State voters took stock of the guitar-playing guv whose state has endured 24 different tax increases in 5 years and was the leading job loser in the country for April and said “whoever this guy is supporting, we’re against!”

So now we will slog on to November, with the conventions providing a little bit of interest in the interim. That’s assuming, though, that we don’t have a rebirth of the Occupy movement, Europe’s economic collapse happens in slow enough motion to not become a crisis, and the world keeps their usual noise to a dull roar. If anything, we’ll go into a holding pattern now that there’s less than six months left to the election because shrewd businesses are already making their 2013 plans with contingencies for both a Romney win (wild expansion) and an Obama win (closing up shop) and local governments are finalizing their budgets as well.

Unfortunately, the spectacle of Walker’s recall has established enough of a distraction for worried governors that time is now against reform. With just scant months before election, no one is going to try anything radical through the legislative process and show leadership like Scott Walker did. If nothing else, Big Labor can go and say they may have lost the battle but they won the war.

As I wrap this up, the margin is now down to about 10-11 points with roughly 80% in. So it’s now coming close to the outlier poll and may end up inside 10 points when all is said and done. Still, a win is a win. And now I won’t get a dozen or more e-mails a day constantly updating the scene and badgering me for money!

Now we here can concentrate on local races and see what further damage we can do the the Democratic machine here in Maryland. They’re already pissed off about our petitions, so let’s give them more reasons to be upset.

WCRC meeting – January 2012

It was one of those meeting where we had a featured speaker, but someone else stole the show. That’s not to show any disrespect to Cathy Keim, who ably represented Election Integrity Maryland, but a testament to the hot-button issue of the day.

With the meeting conducted by Second Vice-President Marc Kilmer in Larry Dodd’s absence, the meeting had a little bit of a different feel to it. Maybe it was the new year. Regardless, we went through the usual preludes and club business, also taking a moment to thank Ann Suthowski for her handling of the club’s Christmas Party last month before turning over the meeting to Cathy for her presentation.

She introduced her group, Election Integrity Maryland, as a nonpartisan watchdog group which was an offshoot of the True the Vote organization based in Texas.

In essence, what she had to share was startling – but not surprising. There’s no question that those who favor common sense steps like photo voter ID, proof of citizenship, tightened registration rules, the elimination of same-day registration, and a shorter early voting period are accused of fomenting disenfranchisement at best, and racism, homophobia, bigotry, and the remaining laundry list of liberal insults which normally follow once they can’t stand on the facts. And they can’t, instead trying to portray this as a “GOP war on voting.”

On the contrary, a Rasmussen Poll found 82% favor voter ID, no decrease in turnout has been reported in states requiring voter ID, and laws to safeguard against a mass registration dump on the eve of the election (in order to make it more likely fraudulent registrations are allowed) make it easier on legitimate voters to be registered.

Yet there are still rampant examples of the system being tampered with. As a recent example, in the New Hampshire primary, filmmaker James O’Keefe enlisted volunteers who entered and asked for ballots representing voters who had recently died to prove a point, carefully not representing themselves as the deceased voter. Because New Hampshire doesn’t ask for a photo ID, there was little chance a person who actually wanted to misrepresent himself as a voter couldn’t get away with it.

Cathy also outlined the Secretary of State Project, which is a 527 organization devoted to electing the chief elections official in each state where that post controls the balloting. Its biggest success was in Minnesota, where their Secretary of State (elected with backing from the SoS Project) conducted the 2008 recount that cost Republican Norm Coleman a U.S. Senate seat, given instead to Sen. Al Franken. Prior to that election, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who was elected in 2006, ended a ballot reconciliation program and refused to investigate claims of registration fraud.

Some of the more immediate goals of Election Integrity Maryland are to assure accurate voter rolls, promote an active citizenry with an interest in the voting system, conduct poll watcher training (for anyone, regardless of affiliation), and work on legislative measures which promote a clean and fair election. Along with the poll watcher training, they also seek volunteers to sift through the voter registration database and help eliminate duplicates or people registered at phony addresses. On a national level, they are also assisting with verification of signatures in the Wisconsin recall, since some have stated they signed petitions dozens of times. Election Integrity Maryland is a 501(c)(4) group so it can be involved in political activities.

All in all, Cathy put together a nice and informative presentation. But Joe Holloway rose to speak, and that’s when things got very interesting.

Joe stated up front that he “needed to see some friendly faces.” He and three other Republicans on County Council had come under withering criticism for their proper vote to hold off on building Bennett Middle School until the county was on more solid fiscal footing. Fellow County Council member Bob Culver, who was also at the meeting, said “I’ve never been spoken to like I have over this (Bennett Middle School) issue.” He had opined that we should explore the cost of remodeling the existing building instead.

Yet Holloway was clear on his intentions. “Bennett Middle School will be built,” said Joe, “but we want it done right.” However, he listened to four members of County Council and reluctantly agreed to hold a special meeting to reconsider the subject. (That meeting, held earlier today, is the subject of this update to a previous post.)

Holloway wasn’t as quick to approve the school, though, because a lot of the “new” financial information they were presented was based on a number of assumptions which he was determined to challenge.

And what impact would a new school have on county finances? Well, Holloway believed that around 80% of what we have bonded are education-related projects, and Joe also reminded us the new school would affect both the capital and operating budgets, since we pay millions in debt service annually out of the operating fund.

One questioner reminded us of the prospect of having to adopt teacher pensions at a county level, and another wondered if it was simply a tactic to have the revenue cap removed. But former County Executive candidate Joe Ollinger challenged Holloway to name a figure he could live with. Regardless of the figure, Bob Culver bluntly assessed that “we’re going to have to raise taxes.”

But Central Committee member John Palmer would have none of it. “I’m disappointed that County Council can’t move a Republican agenda,” he said. He’ll certainly be disheartened by today’s vote.

Speaking of the Central Committee, Dave Parker reminded us of the upcoming Lincoln Day Dinner, but also predicted rough times were ahead for the county. “It’s going to be worse than Martin O’Malley is telling us,” said Parker, and County Council is being “snookered” by those who would “misuse political power.”

However, Parker had some better news as he was promoting the Republican message both in a PAC-14 forum which featured Democratic Central Committee member Harry Basehart in a discussion of the differences between the two parties, and a regular point-counterpoint feature in the Daily Times leading up to the election. (I’m not the only self-promoter here.)

Mark McIver spoke on behalf of Congressman Andy Harris, who was unopposed in the primary and would use the advantage given to him by redistricting to help other GOP causes and candidates. “Andy wants to build the party,” McIver said. Mark also announced Andy had become a lifetime member of the WCRC.

A pair of relatively new faces were present as well, as Donnie Scholl and Charles Landherr stopped in to represent Dan Bongino’s campaign, which is promoting itself around the region. Bongino was a guest at our June meeting last year.

Finally, we had nominations for our 2012 slate of officers, and unless someone steps up to challenge that slate at our February 27 meeting, that group of five holdovers and two new participants will be the 2012 cadre of officers for the WCRC.

A chance of improvement

Obviously the political landscape is much different here than it is in my native state of Ohio, but there are times I still get missives from the Buckeye State because I’m still on a number of mailing lists.

One such case was today, and although I deleted the actual message the gist of it was a local chief of police calling out the opponents of Issue 2 – a measure that would roll back gains made against the overly powerful unions in the state – for misleading the public into thinking they’d be less safe if it passed. On the contrary, passage of Issue 2 would allow him more funding for hiring police officers since his other overhead costs would be reduced.

Continue reading “A chance of improvement”

‘More,’ Fedzilla screamed, ‘more!!’

I thought I could let this go, but then this Washington Times story by Stephan Dinan begged to differ.

Now I realize that the situation over the last few months was akin to walking a tightrope, but to rack up a record $239 billion in debt in ONE DAY – almost 60% of the wiggle room gained by the Republican sellout – simply boggles the mind. Notice that the previous record deficit day came in 2009, after Barack Obama took office. So don’t blame it on Bush.

In fact, consider that in one day our deficit exceeded that of the entire final Bush budget submitted with a Republican Congress (fiscal year 2007) – $239 billion beats $161 billion in any sort of math, fuzzy or not.

And the public is skeptical too. Today a Rasmussen Poll was released and it showed just 22% of the public approved of the budget deal. Of course Republicans are dead-set against it (by about a 4-to-1 margin) but the poll also showed unaffiliated voters in with the same feelings toward the agreement. Only Democrats had a more favorable impression, with 34% favoring the package with 40% against.

The reason the public doesn’t like the agreement? They don’t trust Washington to cut spending.

Another interesting facet of Rasmussen’s summary is that, despite the frenetic coverage by the media, people had expected the outcome. Perhaps it’s a natural cynicism Americans have with their government. “You can’t fight City Hall,” they often say.

While the TEA Party has made great strides in fighting the excesses of government, its biggest problem is that we only control a small portion of government. Look at the strides certain states like Wisconsin and Ohio have made in curbing their governments – they managed to elect enough conservative legislators in both their legislative bodies to complement the reformist ideas of the governors elected – Scott Walker and John Kasich, respectively.

Both Walker and Kasich also have to overcome continued threats to their reform packages as several GOP state senators are subject to recall elections this month in Wisconsin and Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 – an act which severely curbed union influence in Ohio – goes before Buckeye State voters this fall. Don’t be surprised if unions aren’t looking to dump tens of millions into the campaign to overturn SB5.

So the TEA Party fight may be over for the time being in Washington, and those of us skeptical that Fedzilla could curb its spending appetite may be vindicated based on the one-day deficit record. But we have a lot of state capitals where the fight needs to be renewed.

Come this fall, the scene in Annapolis may rival the one back in March, but contenders will on the opposite sides. I’d love to see 10,000 TEA Party members outnumber 50 union thugs in demanding fiscal responsibility.

Friday night videos – episode 59

Another edition of this long-running series is upon us, and the star doesn’t need rehab! Let’s see what we’ve got this time.

The recent CPAC event was a gold mine of video inspiration for conservatives. For example, Human Events interviewed Ann Coulter before she made her remarks.

Not to be outdone, Townhall.com latched onto Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her take.

And on it went, as both entities catalogued dozens of interviews there.

Since the last time I did this, a number of videos have looked at the battle between TEA Party stalwarts on one side and Big Labor on the other, in Wisconsin and elsewhere. I have four different videos on the subject, beginning with Wisconsin’s protest.

Americans for Limited Government has its take on the Madison protests, then covered the event in Annapolis.

Expanding on the coverage was Renee Giachino and CFIF’s Freedom Minute.

But there’s one more protest which comes from inside the Wisconsin state house.

Sore losers. Wonder what would happen if Maryland Republicans adopted the same style of tactics?

This is different and a humorous take on overbearing nanny state governance from CEI, who is usually good at this sort of thing.

I don’t wear makeup but I sure don’t drink coffee with soy milk either.

Okay, there’s no music video this time because next week will be an all-music edition. So that’s it for this edition of FNV.

Circling back around

Back in March I reviewed a book by Terri McCormick about rough-and-tumble Republican politics called What Sex Is A Republican? and while I give the book a fairly decent review I honestly didn’t think anything further of it until last night. (It’s probably got my record for longest post title since I placed the whole thing in the headline.)

However, it just so happened that my review was linked by Aaron Biterman at the Republican Liberty Caucus blog – unbeknownst to me Terri had tossed her hat back into the ring for the Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District seat she sought in 2006, losing in the primary.

I’m going to quote a small portion of Biterman’s remarks in the post, then come back around and ask a question.

(Eventual 2006 Republican nominee John) Gard and the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $2 million to defeat her in the primary. McCormick received 32 percent of the vote and established herself as a Republican maverick. The 32 percent she received represented the segment of Wisconsin voters frustrated with George W. Bush’s policies, pissed that the Republican Party Establishment refused to allow the independent-minded voters of the district decide the primary, and excited about Terri McCormick’s message.

Establishment Republican John Gard lost the General Election to Steve Kagen in 2006 and 2008. Some Wisconsin Republicans incorrectly blame Terri McCormick for his defeat in both election cycles.

Now, if I substituted the name Bob Ehrlich for John Gard, Brian Murphy for Terri McCormick, and Martin O’Malley for Steve Kagan and the results were similar, how much do you want to bet (rhetorically, of course, since they don’t allow internet gambling) that Brian Murphy will be a scapegoat too? I think Brian Murphy could very well get 32 percent or more, at least in some areas of the state.

In truth, I didn’t percieve in my reading of McCormick’s tome that she was exceptionally conservative – and perhaps it was because she was writing it to a more general audience of people who are at the beginning stages of getting politically involved – but in light of the fight she put up to bring charter schools to Wisconsin she at least came down on the right side of a key issue.

In the meantime, I may have another book review to write. In truth, the purpose behind writing the first one was twofold: one, I was asked to, and secondly I intended it for publication at Liberty Features – but apparently they stopped doing book reviews just as I read McCormick’s book. But someone saw it and I suppose that’s what counts.

Perhaps once the primary season wears down and I have fewer campaigns to track I’ll have a review of the book I just got from fellow Red County writer (and Marylander) Ron Miller. I’ve read the beginnings of it and the book is promising. In the meantime, it looks like sort of a day off from campaign stuff as it’s Friday the Thirteenth so I’ll enjoy it.