Government and Political News: Talk has begun about recalling Lehman, who hasn't even offiicially won his seat yetWisconsin News
-- John Lehman has not officially won his state Senate election from this week – and there’s already talk about recalling him just over a year from now.
John Lehman has not officially won his state Senate election from this week – and there’s already talk about recalling him just over a year from now. Tuesday night’s totals showed that Lehman unseated Senate Republican Van Wanggaard of Racine by just one-percent, thus giving Democrats the majority in the Senate at least until November. But the final absentee ballots are due in today. And Wanggaard has said he might order a recount, depending on what the totals show in a canvass of the ballots that begins next Tuesday. But Lehman – who has declared victory – says he’s not worried. He says the earliest he could be recalled would be the end of 2013, and he’s up for election the following year anyway. And Lehman said the short time gap would discourage a recall effort. This week’s election was held using the old districts drawn up 10 years ago. But officials say Lehman will represent a lot more Republicans after the G-O-P’s redistricting plan from a year ago. And if there’s a recall effort a year from now, the Government Accountability Board said Lehman would have to run in the new district. Also, Assembly Republican Robin Vos points out that Lehman will represent people who didn’t get a say in Tuesday’s recall, including those in Burlington. Vos said the state was wrong to use the old districts. And he said the new districts should have been used, even though the Government Accountability Board said the law dictated otherwise.
Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson was one of only eight U-S senators who tried to stop the Senate’s version of the 2012 Farm Bill from reaching the floor of that chamber for consideration. The Senate voted 90-to-8 yesterday to send the federal farm policy package to the floor for a debate and a consideration of amendments that could take several weeks. Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl voted with the majority that let the bill proceed. There was no immediate word on why Johnson tried to block the package. Among other things, it would cut spending on federal farm programs by almost 24-billion-dollars over a decade – mostly in direct payments to farmers. There have been disagreements on various parts of the Farm Bill, mainly by geographic lines. Lawmakers from the South said it hurts the safety net for peanut-and-rice farmers, while favoring Midwest crops like corn and soybeans. And the Brownfield Ag News Service says the dairy industry remains divided on parts of the Dairy Security Act that’s in the Farm Bill. Some say a supply management control would discourage investments in dairy growth, and possibly make the U-S an unreliable supplier on the world market. Others say the plan doesn’t do enough to secure the incomes and futures of dairy farmers.
A U-W Madison professor says Wisconsin should not limit recalls without giving voters another way to influence the political process between elections. Barry Burden says he would hesitate to take control away from the people, because Wisconsin does not allow direct legislation by referendum as in some states like California. Exit polls this week showed that 6-of-every-10 Wisconsin voters would favor limiting recalls to officials who become incapacitated, or commit crimes during their terms. Republican Assembly Finance Chair Robin Vos is trying to pass a constitutional amendment to limit recalls to reasons of malfeasance. He said voters needlessly spent 18-million dollars the past two years on 15 recall elections that were scheduled simply because of ideological differences. Democrats gained at least three Senate seats and maybe four in those contests – and while they appear to have regained control of the Senate, there’s a chance they’ll lose it again in November. Burden told Gannett’s 10 Wisconsin newspapers it was a “meager return” for the Democrats, considering all the time and money that’s been invested. And he believes the recall fever has subsided, because the state is running out of people to recall. Governor Scott Walker cannot be touched again until his next scheduled election in 2014. Vos says there might be a chance that Racine Senate Democrat John Lehman might be a recall target in a year, if his close election numbers from this week are confirmed.
Some Wisconsin election observers say we’ll see more big-money political races – but it could be a long time before we see another governor’s contest in which 80-million-dollars is spent. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign estimated yesterday that 80-million had been spent on the governor’s recall battle which Republican Scott Walker survived on Tuesday. That’s more than twice the previous record set in the 2010 governor’s race. Mike McCabe of the Democracy Campaign said much of the late spending was done by national groups who tried to get the vote to fit their agendas. But it didn’t have much of an impact here. Exit polls showed that 86-percent of voters made up their minds over a month before the election. And in the end, other polls showed that at little as two-percent were undecided, while special interests kept spending millions on ads to try and influence them. Democrats say Walker’s large funding advantage is why Tom Barrett lost by seven points on Tuesday. Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said it allowed the governor to quote, “muddy the waters” on his jobs record, budget cuts, and his possible involvement in alleged corruption by his former aides in the Milwaukee County executive’s office. But Marquette pollster Charles Franklin said that if money was such a big factor, Walker would have had a much bigger lead in the polls. Franklin said that if all the negative ads had any effect, it was more on Barrett’s favorable ratings – which dropped from a statewide high of 35-percent in the Marquette polls in January and February.