It's Election Day in Wisconsin, and collective bargaining is the issue
Millions of dollars have poured into Wisconsin for Election Day. At stake: a desire to swing the state Supreme Court majority on the issue of collective-bargaining power for unions.
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“Because of what happened there in the last month and a half, [the election] is giving the electorate the first opportunity to express their opinion via the ballot box ... and I think people are seizing the opportunity,” McCabe says.Skip to next paragraph
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The election’s outcome is seen as so pivotal that national special-interest organizations from outside the state are getting involved. According to data compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, a nonpartisan public-policy organization, spending on television advertising for the election reached $1.4 million by March 27 – and special-interest groups accounted for 82 percent of the spending. By comparison, during the last state Supreme Court election in 2009, special-interest groups were responsible for just 23 percent of all spending for television advertising.
For the current election, both candidates were provided $100,000 in public money during the primary and $300,000 for the general election. But the greatest increase in spending for television advertising was expected to take place last week. By Tuesday, McCabe estimates, the combined spending for both sides will total almost $5 million.
Among the biggest spenders, according to data compiled through March 27, are the Greater Wisconsin Committee, a liberal organization that spent more than $575,000, and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent about $415,000.
Sarah Palin weighs in
The Tea Party Express, a national political-action committee (PAC), has spent more than $150,000 on television advertising so far disparaging Ms. Kloppenburg. Sal Russo, whose firm operates the PAC, told Politico that his organization became involved “because the left wants to use success in Wisconsin as a warning to fiscal conservatives in other states.”
Sarah Palin also weighed in this week, tweeting to followers to vote for Justice Prosser and to visit his website.
The heightened attention is expected to result in greater voter turnout, especially in Dane and Milwaukee counties, which are the most populated and most Democratic counties in the state. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board is predicting a 20 percent voter turnout, although local experts say it will be higher.
Whatever the outcome, a resolution over the collective-bargaining law is not guaranteed. John McAdams, who teaches political science at Marquette University in Milwaukee, says the issue “will be a battle” once it reaches the state Supreme Court because of the variety of challenges to the law. Some argue its passage violated procedural law, while others say it is constitutionally flawed.
“Pretty much everything will be litigated,” he says. “This whole business is an invitation to prolonged trench warfare.”