Tuesday’s Most Important Election
Posted by Chris Nguyen on May 30, 2012
Six days from now is Tuesday, June 5, Election Day.
What is the most important election that day? Is it the CD-47 contest between Alan Lowenthal, Gary DeLong, and Steve Kuykendall? Is it the Troy Edgar–Long Pham–Travis Allen fight in AD-72? Is it AD-69’s Tom Daly vs. Michele Martinez vs. Jose Moreno vs. Julio Perez vs. Paco Barragan battle? Is it the Third Supervisorial District brawl between Todd Spitzer and Deborah Pauly?
No, the most important election on Tuesday lies 2,000 miles northeast of Orange County.
In Wisconsin, June 5 is Election Day in the recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Labor unions launched the recall after Walker gained the passage of legislation that restricted (but did not eliminate) collective bargaining (requiring annual re-certification of unions via annual member elections, limitations of collective bargaining to salaries rather than benefits) and increased public employee contributions to benefits and pensions, among other things.
This recall election marks a watershed moment in which the power of public employee unions faces off against those who seek to curb the legal prerogatives of those unions.
Wisconsin has an interesting recall procedure. In California, the question of whether we should remove someone from office is one item on the ballot, with voters casting a “Yes” or “No” vote, and then a separate item on the ballot are all the recall replacement candidates, with the incumbent ineligible to run in the replacement vote. In Wisconsin, there is no separate question of whether someone is removed: there is a single item in which candidates (including the incumbent) run against each other. Effectively, when you initiate a recall in Wisconsin, you’re simply calling for an early election for the office, much like a parliamentary by-election or snap election; whereas in California, we vote whether or not to keep the incumbent and separately vote on a replacement.
There was a recall primary on May 8, with Walker winning 97% of the votes in the Republican primary and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett winning 58% of the votes in the Democratic primary (this is a rematch of the 2010 election, as Walker defeated Barrett in that election); the recall general election is this coming Tuesday, June 5.
A Walker victory will embolden politicians across the country seeking to curb the power of labor unions while a Barrett victory will be a warning from the labor unions that politicians should be wary of trying to reduce the legal prerogatives of public employee unions and trying to reduce the benefits enjoyed by public employees.