Fitzhugh on Wisconsin

Obama’s main flunky David Axelrod informed reporters on Sunday that an “army of lawyers” will be in the Badger state “to protect” the vote during the recall election.

And, sure enough, Attorney General Eric Holder is sending the troops in:

The Justice Department announced today that it will monitor elections on June 5, 2012, in the following jurisdictions to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other federal voting rights statutes: Alameda, Fresno and Riverside Counties, Calif.; Cibola and Sandoval Counties, N.M.; Shannon County, S.D.; and the city of Milwaukee.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group. In addition, the act requires certain covered jurisdictions to provide language assistance during the election process. Fresno County, Riverside County and the city of Milwaukee are required to provide assistance in Spanish. Cibola, Sandoval and Shannon Counties are required to provide language assistance to Native American voters. Alameda County is required to provide language assistance to Hispanic, Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino voters.

Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to send federal observers to jurisdictions that are certified by the attorney general or by a federal court order. Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Shannon County based on the attorney general’s certification and in Alameda, Riverside and Sandoval Counties based on court orders. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Fresno County, Cibola County and the city of Milwaukee. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

Why is today’s Recall Election attracting so much attention?  To answer that question, we need to examine what is going on within the state itself.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Triggered by a backlash against the Republican governor’s move 15 months ago to crimp collective bargaining for the state’s public employees, the recall race has pitted neighbor against neighbor, damaged decades-old friendships, and, in one case, led a woman to drive into her husband when he tried to stop her from voting for Mr. Walker’s opponent in a primary last month.

Wisconsin has long been a purple state with a fluid middle. Its U.S. senators have included both Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the progressive champion of the early 20th Century, and Joseph McCarthy, the fiery anti-Communist senator of the 1940s and 50s. Four of its past eight governors have been Democrats; four have been Republicans. While Wisconsin has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1988—Barack Obama won in 2008 by 14 percentage points—the 2010 election gave Republicans control of both houses of the state legislature and ushered Mr. Walker into office.

Mr. Walker and his supporters say curbing public union’s collective-bargaining rights is essential to balancing the state budget, lowering property taxes and creating a business-friendly environment. Union members and many Democrats say public-sector unions weren’t the cause of the state’s budget problems and argue that Mr. Walker has used his office to drive an ideological agenda well to the right of what most Wisconsinites want.

Both sides, along with the national political establishment, would see a victory Tuesday as a validation of their position and a harbinger of the public mood heading into November’s presidential election.

This spring, as the recall entered the home stretch, political positions have become so hardened that a Marquette University Law School poll late last month found only one in every 50 likely voters hadn’t decided how to vote. The poll showed Mr. Walker ahead of his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by seven percentage points, within the margin of error. More than one-third of respondents said they had stopped speaking about politics to someone because of disagreements over the recall.

“I don’t have any of them for friends anymore,” Mr. Ertel said of those with whom he might disagree. “It’s just better to ignore them.”

The race has drawn tens of millions of dollars in political donations—much of it from outside Wisconsin—into a state of just 5.7 million people. Much of it has found its way into negative advertisements. In Sheboygan, a Republican-leaning middle-class city of 50,000 on Lake Michigan roughly halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay, yard signs are ubiquitous and bumper stickers run to the demeaning.

Carol Zoren, a 73-year-old Democrat, sports a bumper sticker on her car that says “Vote Republican Values: Debt, Corruption and Invented War.” A few weeks ago, a man started screaming at her in a parking lot. “He said he was a veteran and he didn’t fight for people like me,” she said. “I told him to buzz off.”

Politicians have tapped into the discord. At a bratfest behind the Sheboygan County Republican headquarters, State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, told a crowd: “The Democrats will do anything to steal an election; I do believe that.” The comment drew loud applause.

Hence, the ” uninvited oversight” from the Obama White House, while the “Boss”, in true Chicago Politics style, remains as removed from the situation as possible, in order to claim plausible deniability.

Stay tuned.

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One Response to Fitzhugh on Wisconsin

  1. I am Sparticus says:

    Race just called for Walker… God bless America, we may have a chance after all…