Money and the Recall

Paul Secunda, as a labor law professor, weighs in on the aftermath of the recall. He makes some good points. But as (I think) one of two people in Wisconsin who teach Election Law (Mike Wittenwyler, an adjunct at UW, is the other), I would like to revise and extend his remarks.

Paul complains of the “8 to 1” spending advantage said to have been enjoyed by Scott Walker and suggests that this somehow can be attributed to the the results of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. This advantage, while overstated, is the result of a law. But that law has nothing to do with Citizens United.

First, a caveat on the “8 to 1” figure.

As my colleague, Tom Kamenick, pointed out (and not at my direction, I was off in DC), this metric doesn’t reflect the situation on the ground. 

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“Playing Offense from the Center” Urged as a Step to Increase Civility in Governing

Keynoting the annual Restorative Justice Conference at Marquette University Law School on Friday, news commentator and author John Avlon called for those who want to see more civility and cooperation in government bodies to assert themselves.

“You have to play offense from the center,” said Avlon, a columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast and a frequent commentator on CNN. “Part of the problem with moderates is that they’re moderate.”

Avlon told a capacity audience in the Appellate Courtroom in Eckstein Hall that there is more that unites Americans than divides them, but some act like the opposite is true. He said people in both the Republican and Democratic parties need to take stronger stands against those who oppose working with people of differing views in reaching solutions to problems facing the nation.

“Principled compromise is the basis for a functioning democracy,” he said.

Avlon’s remarks were part of the day-long conference, “Restoring Faith in Government: Encouraging Civil Public Discourse,” which included discussions about the state of political campaign advertising, media coverage of politics and policy, and what, if anything, can be done about frequent expression of political hostility in comments on the Internet.

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Wisconsin Recall Post-Mortem: Implications for Labor

Cross posted at Workplace Prof Blog.

As one of the few labor law professors here in the State of Wisconsin, and as a close election watcher, I think it is incumbent upon me to give my two cents on the meaning of the Walker recall election for the labor movement in Wisconsin and in the United States.

Although Governor Walker survived the recall with a 53%-46% margin, there are a number of points I wish to emphasize:

1) First and foremost, the Citizens United decision played a huge role.  Walker raised some $31 million for the recall (much from out-of-state billionaires like the Koch Brothers) while Barrett raised only $4 million. Given the 8-1 disparity in spending, perhaps it is surprising that there was a not a bigger win for Walker.  Also, these numbers belie the sometime allegation of conservatives that unions are raking in huge sums of cash through union dues.  Citizens United primarily favors large corporate donors, plain and simple.

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