On the campaign trail: Wisconsin voters back Walker


Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker will remain in office now that the state’s voters have rejected an effort to have him recalled.

After an intense campaign by Democratic Party activists and labor organizations to have Walker ousted, he was able to defeat Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a 53-46 percent margin in Tuesday’s recall election – a bigger lead than when Walker defeated Barrett in the 2010 governor’s race.

The recall campaign, which had been raging in the Badger State over the past 16 months, could be summarized as a battle of “the Koch brothers versus labor unions.”

Walker, who was strongly supported by the industrialist Koch brothers and other conservative corporate donors, touched off the recall effort when he signed legislation that rolled back the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin’s public employees.

With an estimated 8-to-1 advantage in campaign funding and a more enthusiastic base of voters, Walker prevailed over Barrett in the recall election and now becomes a leading prospect to be the vice presidential running mate for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Georgia Republican Party Chairman Sue Everhart exulted over Walker’s strong showing and contended that he “has truly changed the way that Wisconsin does business, and voters have taken notice. . . . As we move forward towards November and beyond, it is my sincere hope that our party continues to elect strong, bold leaders in the likeness of Governor Walker.”

Republicans also contend that Walker’s victory means Wisconsin is in play for this fall after going for Barack Obama in 2008.

Exit poll data from Tuesday’s election was a little mixed on that prospect:  even though they decided to keep Walker in office, Wisconsin voters said they favored Obama over Romney by a 51-44 percent margin in the presidential election.

Roughly 18 percent of the voters who said they would vote for Obama also voted for Walker in the recall election.

Who’s for a lobbyist limit?

Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal surveyed the field of legislative candidates in Cobb County and found a division over the issue of signing an ethics reform pledge.

Those who said they would sign a pledge not to accept more than $100 worth of gifts from lobbyists included Sen. Lindsey Tippins, Sen. Judson Hill, Rep. Stacey Evans, and two opponents of Rep. John Carson: Republican Martin Hawley and Democrat Kevin Westphal.

Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) and two of his prospective Republican challengers – Hunter Hill and Josh Belinfante — said they would not sign the pledge.  GOP candidate Drew Ellenburg said he would sign it.

From Gillooly’s report:

Republican state Rep. Sharon Cooper of east Cobb told the Journal she never signs pledges of any kind.

“I have learned not to sign absolute pledges because they can be a trap,” Cooper said. “I wait until I see the actual legislation, because a lot of bad can be added to a good bill.”

State Rep. Don Parsons of east Cobb also said he would not sign such a pledge, although his Republican primary challenger, JoEllen Smith, has already signed it.

Parsons said lobbyist gifts are reported under current law, and are available for viewing on the Internet.

“Most people don’t know that level of transparency exists, and therefore the caps sound good to them,” Parsons said. “My pledge is to serve the citizens in my district as an effective legislator.”

Smith said she was one of the first to sign the pledge and did so before qualifying to run for office.

Republican state Rep. Judy Manning of Marietta did not return calls or emails for comment, although her primary opponent, Republican Charles Gregory, said he would sign the pledge.

State Rep. Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb) said he would sign a pledge to cap lobbyist gifts at $100, so long as it didn’t come from Common Cause Georgia.

“I’m not going to sign a pledge from any special interest group, especially the Obama Democrat-supported group, Common Cause,” Dollar said.

Both of his opponents in the July 31 primary, Cynthia Rozzo and Nick Johnson, said they would sign the pledge.

Democratic state Rep. David Wilkerson of Austell said he would not sign the pledge. He does not have any challengers in his re-election bid.

“I agree that changes need to be made to our ethics laws. I don’t believe making a pledge is the answer,” Wilkerson said.

State Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) said he is undecided about the pledge proposal and doubts it will solve the problem.

He’s agin’ Ginn

A lot has been written about the fact that veteran state Senate Republicans like Chip Rogers, Don Balfour, Cecil Staton and Bill Heath have drawn opposition within their own GOP primaries.

It’s worth noting that there is also significant Republican primary opposition for one of the upper chamber’s freshman members, Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville).  Danny Yearwood of Winder decided not to run for reelection as Barrow County Commission chairman and instead is challenging Ginn.

Blake Aued reported in the Athens Banner-Herald:

He said he’ll support less government and lower taxes and listen to taxpayers as a state senator.

“Mr. Ginn has never done anything but work for government and support bigger government,” he said. “We’re totally opposite people when it comes to what government should do.” . . .

Yearwood had a tumultuous term as chairman, battling the rest of the county commission over the budget and whether the chairman should be full-time or part-time. He said he turned a $5 million deficit when he took office in 2008 into a $2 million surplus.

“Fighting (the board) every step of the way, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,” he said.

Obviously not a faith-based campaign

It appears that the one candidate running for a General Assembly seat who was a declared atheist has decided not to run after all.

From a report in the LaGrange News:

Open atheist candidate Mike Smith announced Thursday that he decided to terminate his campaign for Georgia House District 69.

Smith said he made the decision after learning of “a qualifying error that cannot be corrected.” He said he telephoned his Democratic opponent, Herbert Giles of Carrollton, to notify him of his withdrawal. Smith said he congratulated Giles on becoming the sole Democratic candidate for the seat and “wished him the best in the general election against the Republican incumbent.”

Smith said that he will continue to be “an outspoken atheist and an advocate for legalizing marijuana, outlawing all lobbyist gifts to Georgia legislators, and making taxes fairer in Georgia.”

“From just those few days as a candidate, I learned that there is very strong public support for these three issues among Georgia voters,” Smith said. “My website received more than 10,000 visitors in just five days, and I received thousands of favorable comments. It is clear that supporting these issues can help Democrats win in November.”

The secretary of state’s website still lists Smith, a LaGrange attorney, as a Democratic candidate in House District 69 along with Giles, a Carrollton courier.

If Smith truly has terminated his campaign, it eliminates the possibility of what could have been an intriguing matchup in the general election.  The Democratic nominee will face incumbent Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), who is a pastor at the Hillcrest United Methodist Church in LaGrange.

© 2012 by The Georgia Report


Tags: atheist candidate , Danny Yearwood , ethics reform pledge , Frank Ginn , Randy Nix , Scott Walker , Wisconsin recall