1 Conservatives Outworked and Out-Organized in Wisconsin
2 Judge's Ruling Buys Time for Labor in Wisconsin
Conservatives: We Are Being Outworked and Out-Organized
in Wisconsin Recall Campaigns
by Sam Stein
WASHINGTON -- Both national and Wisconsin-based
Republican operatives tell the Huffington Post the
party is being dramatically outworked and out-organized
by Democrats in the recall campaigns being launched
against state Senators.
The operatives, who raised their concerns out of hope
it would jar the GOP into assertiveness, argue
complacency has taken over after Governor Scott Walker
successfully shepherded his anti-collective bargaining
bill into law. While the Wisconsin Democratic Party,
with major assists from progressive groups and unions,
has harnessed resentment towards the governor into a
full-throttled effort to recall eight GOP Senators,
neither the enthusiasm nor organizational acumen exists
on the Republican side of the aisle.
"It's clear that Democrats and liberal organizations
are engaging in an attempt to make recall more than a
mere hypothetical possibility for some Wisconsin
Republicans," said Liz Mair, Vice President of Hynes
Communications and former RNC Online Communications
Director, who has followed closely the work of
conservative groups in Wisconsin. "Even though Governor
Walker acted to end the impasse, Republicans and
conservatives should not be acting like this is done
A conservative activist working inside the state on
recall efforts was even more explicitly distraught. The
Wisconsin Republican Party, the operative said, was not
lending resources to the recall campaign groups had
launched against Democratic Senators, in turn causing
those groups to narrow their target list down from
eight lawmakers to just three.
"It would be nice if the Republican Party, operatives,
etc, would step in with a little money," said the
activist, who asked to remain nameless lest he draw the
GOP even further away from the recall effort. "But they
are talking about doing radio and I'm not sure that
gets you signatures."
"Sure, the first battle was won with the passing of the
bill," the activist added, "but the war is not won. If
they come in and recall some of those state senators
and none of the Democrats get knocked out, that's not
good for the republicans at all.it is a bit of a
mystery to me. You would think they would want to make
sure all these [recall] efforts are successful."
The data bears out the notion of a disparity. Reid
Magney, a spokesman for the non-partisan Wisconsin
Government Accountability Board, described the recall
efforts by Democrats against Republican state Senators
as more organized than their counterparts. Whereas GOP-
run recalls registered at different times and
originated from a random spattering of groups--a Utah-
based conservative organization was forced to find a
partner inside Wisconsin to make its petitions legally
acceptable--all of the Democratic activity has run
through the state party.
"The recalls of Republicans [launched by Democrats] all
came in on the same day, they are all organized by the
same people, which is the Democratic party of
Wisconsin. It's not on the docs but it doesn't have to
be. The PO box is all the same," said Magney. "The
state GOP is not involved in the same way."
The funding differences, it appears, are even more
drastic than the organizational. While Mair pleaded for
conservative groups to "raise and spend money in order
ensure that those who pushed reform through aren't
turfed out," Democratic organizations claim to be
swimming in a historic pool of funds.
Democracy for America, the group started by Howard Dean
following his failed 2004 election, said it has raised
nearly $800,000 to run ads and help with the recall
campaign, which communications director Levana
Layendecker described as "unprecedented for a non-
election year issue." In addition, 2,500 volunteers
have signed up with DFA to help gather signatures. The
group, with 25,000 members in Wisconsin alone, expects
that number to only grow.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has
nearly 25,000 Wisconsin members its mobilizing as well,
is pouring massive resources into an ad campaign to
keep momentum behind the recall efforts. Their efforts
include a new spot focusing on three GOP state senators
(Alberta Darling, Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper).
Union groups, while legally prohibited from working
with the Democratic Party on the recount, have still
pushed to keep the issue front and center, as have a
host of other progressive institutions.
"I think that the governor really did wake a sleeping
giant," said Justin Ruben, Executive Director of
MoveOn.org. "People feel that what happened was not
just a horrible attack but the courage of regular
people standing up and getting in the way. That was
what electrified folks. It was the first time we had
seen anything like that."
Judge's Ruling Buys Time for Labor in Wisconsin
By Matthew Rothschild
March 18, 2011
When a Dane County judge blocked the anti-collective
bargaining bill from taking force on Friday, it bought
much-needed time for labor's supporters in Wisconsin.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, in a temporary
restraining order, ruled that the Republican
legislature likely violated the state open meetings law
when it railroaded the bill through committee on March
"We here in Wisconsin own our government," Judge Sumi
said. "We own it in the sense that we are entitled to
free and open access to government meetings."
The open meetings law requires 24-hour notice of
legislative meetings, except in times of emergency. No
such notice was given for this bill.
"This was something that would and did catch the public
unaware," Sumi said. It "ended up being a closed
Sumi scheduled another hearing on the case for March
The Republicans are appealing the decision.
They could decide to do a do-over and play according to
the rules and pass the identical bill (or the one that
includes drastic cuts in take-home pay for public
sector workers). But that would require more raucous
hearings, which could embarrass them again.
And if they proceed in the courts, time may be on
There's an election on April 5 for a state supreme
court seat. The court now tilts rightward, by a 4-3
margin. Labor is hoping challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg
beats Republican David Prosser to add a check on
Then there are the recalls of Republican state
senators. Signatures are already being collected, and
the recall elections may happen within a couple of
If three Republican senators are ousted, then that
chamber flips to the Democratic side, and the Walker
assault could be thwarted.
So labor is now seeing how long it can hold its breath.
[Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive
magazine. He has appeared on Nightline, C-SPAN, The
O'Reilly Factor, and NPR, and his newspaper
commentaries have run in the Chicago Tribune, the L.A.
Times, the Miami Herald, and a host of other
newspapers. Rothschild is also the author of a book
entitled You Have No Rights: Stories of America in Our
Repressive Age (New Press, 2007). A graduate of Harvard
University, Rothschild prior to coming to The
Progressive worked as the editor of Multinational
Monitor, a magazine founded by Ralph Nader. Rothschild
came to The Progressive in 1983, and has worked for the
magazine in many different capacities, first as
associate editor, then managing editor, then publisher,
and since 1994 as editor.]
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