Wisconsin GOP is Walker’sIt should be a happy holiday for Gov. Scott Walker. He has plenty to be thankful for in the wake of this year’s general election.
By: By Matt Pommer, Superior Telegram
It should be a happy holiday for Gov. Scott Walker. He has plenty to be thankful for in the wake of this year’s general election.
Voting in new legislative districts created by Republican majorities two years ago helped produce solid GOP margins in both houses of the Legislature. Republicans picked up two seats in the state senate, returning them to majority control.
The impact of the new reapportionment is even clearer in the Assembly. Preliminary vote totals showed only 15 of the 99 districts were even marginally competitive.
Those 15 districts had winning margins of less than 10 percent. Thirteen of the seats went to Republicans and only two GOP incumbents were ousted by voters.
New legislative districts are only part of the GOP election gains. Political messages by legislative candidates were drowned in the tidal wave of television ads in the presidential and U.S. Senate race. The media swamp made it difficult for legislative challengers to catch anyone’s attention over GOP incumbents.
Regardless of how they were achieved, the Republican legislative majorities will let Walker do whatever he wants. Never mind the sweet talk that he’d like to work with Democrats. He doesn’t need to do that.
Early rumors in the state Capitol suggest Walker wants to move quickly to repeal the additional income tax bracket imposed when Democrats had control of state government. It’s something Walker promised to do when he campaigned for governor in 2010.
Aides to the governor have warned local government organizations not to expect much help in the next state budget. If local governments have funding troubles, they can always reduce salaries and fringes for their workers. Republicans say local governments now have the “tools” to solve their own budget situations.
Those “tools” flow from state law, which eliminated collective bargaining for most local and state government workers. Some provisions of that law are facing legal challenges. Key challenges likely will be solved in the state Supreme Court.
Also working its way through the court system is the Walker law that would require voters to show a photo ID before they cast their ballots. Experts say the law would likely discourage voting by minorities, disabled and the poor.
Attorney Gen. J.B. Van Hollen has renewed his request the photo ID issue be solved by the Supreme Court before the April election. That request may be a nervous reaction to the fact Democrats President Obama and U.S. Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin were statewide winners.
The key race in April will be for the State Supreme Court seats. Conservatives have a 4-3 majority on the high court, but that could change in the spring vote. Baldwin soundly defeated former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who turned 71 last week. Some say Thompson suffered the “Brett Favre fate” — that is, he stayed too long on the political stage. His defeat helps reinforce the view the Republican Party is Walker’s party in Wisconsin.
The election was also helpful to Walker personally. Assuming he keeps his pledge of 250,000 new jobs, he can win re-election in 2014, then run against Baldwin for the U.S. Senate in 2016.