The latest from Wisconsin:
As Alberta Darling takes a chair at the Wooden Goose Café, Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” softly plays on the kitchen stereo. The pony-tailed waitress, pen in hand, stands ready to take our order. But before Darling puts a napkin on her lap, an elderly man with ancient hands approaches, places a palm on her shoulder, and says, “You’re the strongest woman I know.” She thanks him. A second later, she scans the room and spies numerous retirees, early risers breaking their fast on over-easy eggs and black coffee. So she gets up and makes the rounds, moving from table to table in a bright blue T-shirt emblazoned with her name and Old Glory. Several minutes later, we settle back in. “It’s all about the ground game,” she says.
Unlike most of the patrons, Darling, a 67-year-old Republican state senator, will not be hitting the links or relaxing with a paperback after breakfast. Instead, she will be knocking on doors, striding purposefully up long driveways in this suburban Milwaukee district, with crisp, star-spangled pamphlets under her arm. Darling has been in close races before, but Tuesday’s recall elections in the Badger State are different from the usual political scrums. Labor activists have targeted her and five GOP colleagues, enraged at the senators’ support of first-term Republican governor Scott Walker, who famously curbed state spending and collective bargaining for public employees earlier this year. If Democrats can win three of the six contests, they will take control of the upper chamber, which currently has a 19–14 Republican majority.