The Campaign Spot

Walker’s Foes Proudly Announce They Learned Nothing Tuesday

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Welcome to the Post-Wisconsin World

Reuters doesn’t spare Obama in their assessment of Wisconsin after the recall:

Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recall victory raised numerous warning flags for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats, who badly flunked the first big political test of the 2012 campaign

Walker’s surprisingly easy win over Democrat Tom Barrett on Tuesday was fueled by a big turnout from a motivated Republican base of voters, and by heavy spending by out-of-state conservatives who flooded Wisconsin with campaign cash.

Both trends raised difficult questions for Obama’s re-election campaign, which has struggled to match the enthusiasm of his 2008 White House run and compete financially with the huge sums of money being raised by conservative outside groups ahead of the November 6 election.

The important thing is that Walker’s foes have learned pretty much nothing from all this:

The state’s largest public teachers union spent around $4 million on Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election, much of that on Kathleen Falk’s failed bid for the Democratic nomination, something union leaders say they don’t regret.

“We were all chips in because we had nothing to lose,” said Dan Burkhalter, executive director of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, referring to efforts by the governor and Republican legislators to cut public school funding and all but end collective bargaining for most public employees.

WEAC President Mary Bell said the union supported Falk because she got into the recall race much earlier than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and for many weeks Walker “had the field to himself” and was able to run many ads touting his accomplishments.

The governor “had the bigger megaphone,” Bell said in a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the Journal Sentinel’s editors and reporters.

Oh, hogwash. It’s not like voters didn’t know who Tom Barrett was and what he stood for, and it’s not like they didn’t know who Scott Walker was and what he stood for. In post-election analyses like these, sore losers behave as if the other guy’s ads have this magic, hypnotic ability to get people to vote against their own interests, while their own ads have no ability to persuade. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the Wisconsin teachers’ unions ran lousy ads, but that’s their own fault, not a ‘size of megaphone’ issue.

One day after Walker withstood the recall attempt, Bell and Burkhalter said they were unsure whether the governor will be open to discussing public education in the state.

“We have to find a better way to have a civil dialogue,” said Bell.

Helpful hint: Stop calling the governor Hitler. Oh, and remember how the AFSCME had their membership drop by 55 percent within one year? The teachers unions are seeing a milder version of the same dropoff:

Since the collective bargaining measure was enacted last year, WEAC’s membership has dropped from around 90,000 to 70,000 but the remaining membership became energized by the recall and union leaders are hopeful that passion will continue as the union rallies around issues such as public school funding. The union is working on membership drives this summer.

“I think we will be smaller but stronger,” Bell said.

Like the new Newsweek, Wisconsin teachers’ unions aren’t getting less popular, they’re just choosing to appeal to a more exclusive audience!

At Forbes.com, Bill Frezza argues that in the long run, all public sector unions appear doomed:

The power of private sector unions was long ago broken by many heavily unionized companies going bankrupt. While this was painful for both workers and shareholders, the economy motored on as nimbler non-union competitors picked up the slack. This approach is problematic for the public sector because bankrupt state and local governments cannot be replaced by competitors waiting in the wings. Yes, citizens can always vote with their feet, emptying out cities like Detroit, leaving the blighted wreckage behind. But isn’t Walker’s targeted fiscal retrenchment less painful than scorched-earth abandonment?

Today through Sunday I’ll be journeying to Providence, Rhode Island, for the Heritage Foundation and Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity’s Future of Journalism Summit. Campaign Spot blogging may be light in the coming days . . . 

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