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Walker Signs Anti-Union Bill in Wisconsin; Democrats Begin Advertising Against GOP Legislators

Gov. Scott Walker signed into law today a bill that strips collective bargaining rights from most public employees, among other things. He will hold a public signing ceremony later today, and then a press conference, because the guy can’t seem to get off the teevee. When I was in Madison, local reporters marveled at what a camera hog Walker has turned out to be during this whole situation.

Walker also rescinded layoff notices sent out to 1,500 state workers as a result of the bill passing. Of course, that’s the bill with no fiscal impact.

But if the legislative battle has ended, the legal and electoral battles are just beginning. And on the electoral front, Democrats have released two ads today that highlight Walker’s assault on workers’ rights.

The first is distinct to Milwaukee. In my story on the landscape in Wisconsin, I forgot another imminent election that will be a proxy vote on the action of state Republicans. When Scott Walker won the governor’s race, he left his post as Milwaukee County Executive. That position is being filled in a special election on April 5, the same day as the state Supreme Court election. It turns out that the Republican seeking the office is Jeff Stone, a member of the State Assembly who voted for Walker’s rights-stripping bill. His opponent, Chris Abele, has released an ad that highlights this vote. The ad also attacks Walker for his past performance as County Executive. And it ties Stone to Walker the way Democratic ads in 2006 tied Republicans to George W. Bush.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which endorsed Walker in the Governor’s race, endorsed Abele for this seat.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, an organization that helps elect candidates to state legislatures, also has an ad out today, pointing at one of the Republican 8, Sen. Luther Olsen, who also voted for Walker’s bill, and who is up for a potential recall. The spot highlights Olsen’s prior statement that stripping collective bargaining is “pretty radical.” There’s no election at the moment, so this is nominally an “issue ad.”

Honestly, I don’t even think it’s going to take much advertising to raise awareness on Republican perfidy. The awareness is there in Wisconsin. The party and the grassroots are in sync on extracting some measure of payback for the stripping of workers’ rights.

Meanwhile, in Washington, no member of the White House press corps asked President Obama about the events in Wisconsin.

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David Dayen

David Dayen