Sunday, August 7, 2011

New on Media Trackers - Wisconsin's Unique, Union-Backed Recalls

My debut article for Media Trackers:

Wisconsin may not be the only state moving to control costs by reducing the political influence of public employee unions, but nowhere else has the fallout of reform been so volatile.

Eight state senators have been targeted for recall elections—six Republicans who voted to restrict collective bargaining, and two of the fourteen Democrats who left the state to delay a vote on the measure (a recall against a third Democrat, Dave Hansen, has already failed). Pro-union activists hope to oust more politicians, including Republican Gov. Scott Walker, as soon as they become legally eligible for recall.

Only in Wisconsin is the possibility of overturning the last election being seriously entertained. Recalling state officials has been tried just thirty times in American history, and our state’s current battle accounts for a striking 30% of that total, despite Wisconsin recall requirements being no easier than those of most states. No other state comes close to so many recalls in the same year. California rates a distant second with three recalls in 1995, in a fight instigated by the GOP to punish two Republicans and a Democrat who undermined the party’s narrow, just-won majority in the Assembly by voting to give Democrats the Speakership. With a few twists and turns along the way, Republicans ultimately won.

What makes Wisconsin different? Why aren’t unions threatening to undo election results in other states?

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