Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republican Senate, using a parliamentary maneuver that seemed to take Democrats by surprise, passed legislation that took away the bulk of bargaining rights for public sector unions in Wisconsin yesterday. The Republicans stripped out of the bill the fiscal portions, allowing them to move forward without the Democratic senators who took flight to try to forestall that very vote. A clear victory for Governor Walker in the short term, with both sides preparing for protracted political battle, including the possibility of “recall” campaigns being launched against elected officials on both sides. The Governor will try to consolidate his victory, while the Democrats will try to keep their troops mobilized to prevent that consolidation. Those politics promise to be brutal.
Today’s Washington Post has a piece by E.J. Dionne, who talks about some potentially negative consequences for Republicans from the Battle of Wisconsin. Dionne comes to the discussion with pro-union sentiments, but makes the point that Republicans are burning their bridges with a constituency that has supported them in the past, blue collar working people, or Reagan Democrats. Of course that impact may change, and Walker is not due for re-elect until 2014, but I tend to agree that Republicans have been able to pick up a fair share of union households in the past. That very well may change. A seminal battle for labor, with the first round going to the Republicans.