Wisconsin voters spoke yesterday. What the hell did we say?
Yesterday was our first chance to show America (and ourselves) what we really think of corporate interests taking over our state. JoAnne Kloppenburg only garnered 25% of the vote in November’s primary; yet, she won the coveted seat on the WI State Supreme Court defeating incumbent Prosser (whose campaign made an egregious error by calling him a “complement” to the GOP legislature and Governor). Kloppenburg’s victory is a signal that this people’s progressive movement is the real deal; but, I would hardly call this a referendum on Scott Walker. If anything, it tell us that Wisconsin is the ultimate "purple" state.
Kloppenburg only won the seat by 204 votes. Precincts reported all through the night and her victory was only announce mid-afternoon today. It was one of the most emotional days I've experienced, switching between reassuring myself that the world wouldn't end and feeling like a giddy child on Christmas morning. Kloppenburg's total was 740,090 compared to Prosser's 739,886. Of course both sides are spinning it. Klop supporters claim momentum citing that this is a huge shift of voters in just a few months. Prosser's crew is claiming that this is proof that the "union thugs" can be defeated.
He'll never admit it, but Walker has been humbled too. Before this race, he had been telling the world that “the people of Wisconsin have spoken” as a justification to any antics he saw fit. Today he tried something new claiming:
"I think it’s pretty clear that you have two very different worlds in this state. You have a world driven by Madison and a world driven by everybody else in the state of Wisconsin."
This can easily be refutted by examining the precints all over the state. Only a few counties were heavily favoring one candidate - many of them were within 10 percentage points of each other switching between the two all over the entire state. But a more striking question arises for me - why is Walker defending Prosser? Furthermore, news was just released that the GOP is now helping fund the recount efforts as well. The GOP and Walker have been claiming all along that this was not a partisan race. Now, their true and ugly colors are splattered all over the place.
The voters have spoken - we are evenly divided. But a 204 lead goes to the victor and Kloppenburg justly claimed it. The win still needs to be certified by the through a special process before it becomes official. The importance of Kloppenburg’s victory cannot be stressed enough for another reason. It has effectively swung the court 4-3 in the other direction. The previous court was known for siding with big business over the working and middle class. This new formula of the court will decide the legality of Gov. Walker’s recent “Collective Bargaining Bill” that was voted on without adhering to the state’s 24-hour open meeting rule.
The most troubling aspect has been seeing the "loser" become even a poorer loser. Prosser's campaign has hired dozens of lawyers and has launched a "Prosser Victory Fund." Here is what they have to say about the result:
"After a challenging battle in which a historic number of votes were cast in a Supreme Court race, we need your help in preserving a victory for Justice David Prosser. The likely next step is a recount, requiring resources to protect the integrity of the ballots cast and deliver a win. Please take a moment to contribute, with your help a victory in this hard-fought battle is within reach!"
To be clear, I'm in complete agreement with re-counts. I would definately want one if Kloppenburg lost by this margin. But this goes beyond that. This blatently disenfranchises voters. And they are unashamed about it.
But, we have to just keep doing what we can at the grass roots level. Keeping our eyes on the next milestone - senate recalls – my husband and I mimicked many other municipalities around the state by setting up a recall booth right outside the polling place in our city. I voted for Kloppenburg with an absentee ballot last week. At the same time I also informed the voting clerk about our intentions of setting up a booth on voting day. I assured her that we would be following all of the legal guidelines laid out for us by the State’s Accountability Board. She was very helpful and gave my son a sucker.
Voting took place between the times of 7 am and 8 pm today. We staffed the booth with a group of enthusiastic retired folks during the day. Nearly every volunteer brought a friend or two with them. In the evening, we had the first grill out of the season and played bean bag toss and a Swedish yard game called Kubb. Kids also kicked a ball around with the first smell of burgers and brats cooking over charcoal filling the air. Voters were able to vote and then cross the street to sign the recall. We were able to garner another 62 signatures today toward the recall.
If this were a real battle field, even the winning side would have few left standing. This was a bloody, brutal win. This election proves to me – and should prove to the country - that the progressive movement is real. The people are still in charge of this state and the people are in charge of this country. But, we will lose sometimes. And when we do - we must pick ourselves up and keep fighting. And we must stand in solidarity, not allowing division to seep in. It will be difficult and we will need perseverance. And, we must do the work for ourselves.