June 5, 2012—Opinion—
Either way you look at it, Scott Walker’s fate wound up being worthy of national historical note, if but for the simple fact that voting results could easily have made him the third state governor to be successfully recalled from office by petition and Wisconsin voters made him the first one to survive and be re-elected following a successful recall action. The action itself required a significant, organized follow through effort, capturing over 900,000 verified, certified signatures. The least message that Walker should have already received, was that for whatever the specific reason, a whole lot of people besides union members really don’t like or trust him. Far worse is the fact that those same citizens, for whose best interests he was duty-bound to represent, didn’t trust him and felt betrayed.
To those people, the reversal of the 2010 gubernatorial result would have been justice rendered through the successful election this time around of Milwaukee Mayor, Tom Barrett (D). Instead, with a higher voter turnout than in 2010, the results were percentage-wise, about the same. Many doubted that disagreement with Walker’s platform and policies didn’t warrant the recall effort in the absence of evidence of misdeeds while actually in the office of governor. Some didn’t like the way it divided communities, friends and even families with differing views in Wisconsin. Voters seem to have spoken decisively, for whatever the underlying reasons.
They should actually be given a measure of respect for parsing issues until it is proven that none is due. If their reported responses to solicited exit-polling questions were truthful and accurate yesterday, a significant number of Wisconsin voters actually showed a significant preference for Democratic President Barack Obama and his ability to handle the economy over Mitt Romney in the presidential election, while actually voting in the booth for the Republican governor, Walker, in the recall.
However, both campaigns should exercise care and caution in trying to spin what the voters were trying to say. Another of several higher profile candidates coming out to challenge Barrett could have changed the outcome for Democrats as much as an Obama appearance may have helped. Republicans and their supporters should be careful not to assume that nationally, the state-by-state tactics (coordinated ALEC-like packaged legislative promotions) are working more than hurting. GOP faithful should also exercise an extra measure of caution because the Obama campaign probably already has the BLS data that bolster arguments that Wisconsin job gains within the last year—which probably helped in saving Walker to some extent—are mostly due to the auto industry bailout, a government-managed bankruptcy agreement for which credit goes to Obama for use in messaging into November (one very plausible and likely reason for the president’s non-appearance in the state to support Barrett, although Romney’s physical absence in Wisconsin was equally conspicuous to many people).
Unfortunately for Wisconsinites, Scott Walker could further add to his historical significance by being criminally indicted prior to this November’s elections. Facts emerged early in 2010 of election law violations and subsequent embezzlement and misconduct guilty pleas in exchange for grants of immunity during his tenure as Milwaukee county executive and in preparation for his gubernatorial campaign. At least six members of his staff have been granted immunity, pleading guilty to a number of felonies and misdemeanors last year—some literally sat physically no more than 30 feet from Walker on a daily basis. Many supporters have also contributed to a defense fund established for him personally, with his possible indictment still hanging on findings in an ongoing investigation.
Voter turnout was heavy throughout the day in known areas of committed support for both sides with voter participation projected to be as high as 65 percent. Many will judge the results as to whether big-money won out over the mobilization of the principled common person to the polls, ceding the advantage to big-money. If the voting result totals for each participant had been within one- and have half of one percent, Wisconsin statute would have required a recount, for which each side had its attorneys ready.
As spinsters went to work on messaging components when his win was apparent about an hour after polls closed, Walker’s morning message was “Move on, move forward.” However, the national political war will press onward for at least 22 more weeks and probably well beyond.
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Sources, resources, and references: MSNBC,
 MSNBC, The Last Word, with William O’Donnell, June 5, 2012.
 MSNBC, The Daily Rundown, with Chuck Todd, June 6, 2012.