Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Once and Future Recalls

If you missed the State Journal's piece on the the midpoint of the recall efforts around the state, give it a quick read.

It's worth pointing out that if Dems manage to pull in all the signatures required to recall the 8 eligible senators that would have no less than 138,671 signatures, all of whom would presumably be game to sign recall petitions against Scott Walker. That's just over 25% of the 540,206 signatures needed to recall Scott Walker -- all of them coming away from the Democratic strongholds and population centers of places like Milwaukee and Dane counties (not to mention other target rich environments).

This is probably one of the reasons spending time and money trying to recall Grothman and Lazich aren't necessarily bad ideas. Both senators should be able to handily beat back any recall elections, but there are bigger points to be scored. 40,000+ signatures represent over 7% of the total needed to recall Walker and if the Dems can pull those kinds of numbers out of extremely hostile territory they shouldn't have too much trouble finding signatures elsewhere.

The GOP doesn't have this kind of fall back plan. Those poor cats running through Mark Miller's district looking for signatures? Those names will probably just end up on a list they already belong on. And the volunteers? They'll probably end up pretty demoralized. The situation would only get worse if Dems manage to force 3-6 recall elections, while the GOP fails to force any. (And this is a decent possibility, since the only district they seem to have a fighting shot in is Holperin's, which is difficult to traverse on account of its ruralness.)

So on January 3rd, 2012 Dems wake up with a list of 140,000 people who want to recall Scott Walker, and that's before the even unlock the offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Racine, Eau Claire, Superior, Appleton/Neenah/Menasha, Stevens Point, Sheboygan, parts of Green Bay and so forth. They'll also have funds to go after the 11 senators who become eligible for recall the same day that Scott Walker does.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

Maryann Sumi has Made Her Decision; now let Her Enforce It!

Scott Walker thinks he's Andrew Jackson.

There's a good chance that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be asked to decide the legality of  Walker's union-busting bill in the near future. Given how receptive Walker has been to the legal system, one can reasonably assume that if the Court decides against his favor, Walker will essentially ignore the ruling -- and, in essence, an entire branch of state government. That will prove to be an actual "constitutional crisis" of the kind Scott Fitzgerald tried to gin up earlier this month.

It's now also entirely possible that voters will deprive Walker of control of another branch of government -- the legislative -- before the biennial budget has a chance to be passed later this summer, which will undoubtedly result in the kind of political gridlock which leads to the kind of fiscal crisis that Walker has tried to gin up since his first day in office. That will provide him with an branch of government to ignore.

I'm not saying it's going to happen, but don't be surprised if it happens.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Wisconsin GOP Must Crave Attention more than a 16 year-old Cutter with Daddy Issues to Pull Another Stunt Like This

So very nice of them to pull this shit at the end of a Friday (you know, because the courts are closed until Monday):
Madison - A controversial bill limiting collective bargaining for public workers has been officially published despite a temporary restraining order barring its publication by one state official.
The legislation was published Friday with a footnote that acknowledges the restraining order, but says state law "requires the Legislative Reference Bureau to publish every act within 10 working days after its date of enactment."
The restraining order was issued against Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette, but the bill was published by the reference bureau. The reference bureau was not included in the temporary restraining order.
Laws normally take effect a day after they are published, and Gov. Scott Walker's administration is proceeding as if it takes effect Saturday.
"Today the administration was notified that the LRB published the budget-repair bill as required by law," said a statement from Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch. "The administration will carry out the law as required."
So is it actually a law, even thought the published version specifically acknowledges the restraining order against its publication? Damned if I know. Damned if anyone else knows, for that matter, but it sure as hell doesn't legit. All it does is drag out this incredibly bitter conversation in an environment where Democrats are trying to gather enough signatures to recall GOP senators.

Oh, that's right! They're doing this precisely because they're getting creamed in the recall effort and must now believe that the upcoming Supreme Court election is rapidly becoming a lost cause. Best get this shit done now before the levers of government are wrested from the GOP.

Again, on a day when the watchword around the state was McCarthyism, there is no better friend to the long-term interests of Wisconsin Democrats than Wisconsin Republicans.

On What Planet did the Wisconsin GOP Think this would be a Good Idea?

It's really insulting just how stupid Scott Walker thinks the people of Wisconsin are:
Professor William Cronon, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is now in a serious tangle with none other than the state Republican Party, in yet another battle over Scott Walker's new anti-public employee union law. After Cronon posted a piece on out-of-state think tanks and interest groups that would spur the law, the GOP has responded with an open-records request on Cronon's own state account e-mails.

On March 15, Cronon posted a blog entry entitled, "Who's Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn't Start Here)", seeking to focus attention on out of state conservative groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the infamous phone call that Walker had a month ago with blogger Ian Murphy, who posed as Republican financier David Koch.

"I don't want this to become an endless professorial lecture on the general outlines of American conservatism today, so let me turn to the question at hand: who's really behind recent Republican legislation in Wisconsin and elsewhere?" Cronon wrote. "I'm professionally interested in this question as a historian, and since I can't bring myself to believe that the Koch brothers single-handedly masterminded all this, I've been trying to discover the deeper networks from which this legislation emerged."

Then on March 17, as Cronon announced in a blog post Thursday, the state Republicans have filed an open-records request -- seeking to read his e-mails from his state university account.
I'm amazed that Walker supports are even able to feign such cluelessness of the absolute vitriol he inspires in opponents. There's a reason for it and it begins with the abject contempt Walker displays for just about anyone with the ability to add one and one.

MORE: Seriously, these people are tone deaf. From the MJS:
Thompson was not available for comment. But in an statement, Mark Jefferson, the party's executive director, said, "Like anyone else who makes an open records request in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Wisconsin does not have to give a reason for doing so.

"I have never seen such a concerted effort to intimidate someone from lawfully seeking information about their government.
Un-fucking-believable. This asshole now thinks he's the one being intimidated!

And unlike anyone else "who make an open records request in Wisconsin" the state GOP is major political party. It may not be required to explain it's reasoning, but it sure looks suspect if it doesn't. Here's the rest of Jefferson's asinine statement. It's a shining example of transparent douche-baggery as you'll ever read:
"Further, it is chilling to see that so many members of the media would take up the cause of a professor who seeks to quash a lawful open records request. Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner. The Left is far more aggressive in this state than the Right in its use of open records requests, yet these rights do extend beyond the liberal left and members of the media.

"Finally, I find it appalling that Professor Cronon seems to have plenty of time to round up reporters from around the nation to push the Republican Party of Wisconsin into explaining its motives behind a lawful open records request, but has apparently not found time to provide any of the requested information.

"We look forward to the University’s prompt response to our request and hope those who seek to intimidate us from making such requests will reconsider their actions.”
The Wisconsin GOP seems hellbent on destroying the party brand. Keep digging, folks!

The Surgery that Saved Ron Johnson's Daughter's Life was Probably Developed in Socialist Hellhole that doesn't Speak the King's English

From Wonkroom:
America has certainly had its share of medical breakthroughs, but the procedure Johnson’s daughter received may not have been developed in the United States but rather in Brazil or France — nations that now benefit from some form of universal coverage.
According to CAP Senior Fellow (and resident biochemist) Dr. Lesley Russell, it is most likely that the surgery Carey had was first performed and reported in Brazil in 1975, where doctors described their version of the procedure as “the first successful report of total correction of transposition of the great vessels at the arterial level.” Alternatively, Johnson’s daughter may have had what’s known as The LeCompte procedure, which was developed in France in 1981.
OK, so Johnson goes national with the story of his daughter's surgery on Wednesday and two days later a little fact-checking turns out that one of the central origin myths of his campaign turns out to be dubious. Last year, however, the same story went unchallenged in the state of Wisconsin for six months. I know we don't have tthink tanks that can tackle the issues like CAP (unless you're in the mood to do the bidding of the Bradley Foundation), but couldn't someone have discovered this bit of information with a simple phone call to, say UW Hospital or the Mayo Clinic or something?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Senator Johnson has this completely backwards."

I was going to take some time to go over Ron Johnson's rehash of his health care argument form last year's campaign in the Wall Street Journal, but someone has already done a much better job of doing so. Enjoy.

MORE: Memeorandum has more on just how shallow Johnson's argument is: Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, LA Times, Krugman, and Steve Benen, Steve Benen again, and Igor Volsky.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Voter ID Advocates getting ready to Screw U.S. Military Personnel

We've been harping on the Voter ID issue for a week or so now and today we were given a sparkling example of just what's kind of reform Voter ID advocates will be pushing for in the near future.

Over at the Northwoods Patriots blog (a tea party group based up north), there is a post detailing just how difficult Voter ID folks want to make proving one's identity at the polls. Not only are driver's licenses not acceptable forms of identification in their view, but neither are military IDs:
The MILITARY ID is not acceptable because you do not have to be a U. S. citizen to be a member of the U.S. military. The U.S. military does have as members, citizens of other nations.
Not once in the post is there any solution offered to any of its objections.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yet Another Sketchy Randy Hopper Story

The guy is nothing if not prolific:
Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) told WKOW27 News he played no role in the recent hire of a state employee.

Sources told WKOW27 News the employee is the same woman Hopper’s estranged wife,  Alysia Hopper referred to as Hopper’s mistress in a public statement and in a letter to a radio station.

Department of Regulation and Licensing spokesperson David Carlson said the woman, 26, was hired in February as a limited term communications specialist.  
And then...
In a telephone interview with WKOW27 News,  Hopper initially refused to respond to whether he had written a letter of reference or recommendation,   or intervened during the woman’s hiring process.

“I want to keep my involvement of anything as a private matter.   So, I’m going to maintain that.”

But Hopper later called a WKOW27 News reporter and said he had no involvement in the woman’s hiring.
And now...
State officials said the pay of a limited term employee  hired last month at the department of regulation and licensing is the equivalent of more than $42,000 annually.

WKOW27 News requested employment information after sources said the worker, 26, was the same person identified by Senator Randy Hopper’s estranged wife as a woman involved in an affair with Hopper.

Hopper denied to WKOW27 News any role in the woman’s hire.

Department of Regulation licensing spokesperson David Carlson said the employee was hired Feb. 7 to a limited term position as a communications specialist.

Carlson said the worker’s hourly wage is equivalent to an annual salary of $42,328.
Maybe I'm wrong, but a "communications specialist" who probably can no longer talk to the press should be paid a little less than the annual equivalent of $42,000.

Reagan on Unions

We've noted this before, but Ronald Reagan supported collective bargaining and he supported unions. Let's look at the tape:

The Amazing Paradox Implicit in Randy Hopper's Residency Woes and the Wisconsin GOP's Voter ID Agenda

Seriously, does anyone know where Randy Hopper voted last fall?

If I'm starting to sound like a broken record it's only because there are some rather significant ramifications that result from the answer to this question. There's also a pretty fascinating paradox that is evolving from this situation that should have ethicists and political scientists devouring this recall like an ice cream social at fat camp.

The Cap Times apparently knows the address of Hopper's current residence, but is keeping it under wraps in deference to security concerns. Fair enough (for me, at least, and at the moment; I'm sure there are some legal issues surrounding no one knowing where a law-maker lives, but in this case at least someone does). Determining where Hopper voted should be a pretty easy trail to follow considering records of who voted in each election are public information.

The residence Hopper vacated when he filed for divorce is in the Town (as opposed to the City) of Fond du Lac, where the polling place is at Town Hall. Keeping that in mind, there are a number of ways in which Hopper may have broken the law last November. Again, let me stress this is all hypothetical, since we don't know the details where he voted. We're outlining these scenarios in the hopes that someone will track this information down (something that anonymous bloggers can't really do).
  • If the address Hopper gave to the Cap Times is located outside the town of Fond du Lac, then we next have to see where he voted. If Hopper's new digs are outside the town of Fond du Lac and he continued to vote inside the town of FdL, even though he has said publicly that he moved out 10 months ago (presumably to this new "apartment" cited by his staffers), we have a problem.
  • If Hopper's new abode is inside the town of FdL he would still vote there, where, presumably, he would still be registered. However, a poll worker would have likely asked him if he still lived at the address he is registered at in the voter rolls. If he answered yes for the sake of convenience, and had not changed his registration since moving out, we now have to ask ourselves if this constitutes lying to a poll worker.
  • If Hopper voted absentee or early voted, he would have had to essentially sign an affidavit confirming his residence. (Note: that's how it works in Winnebago County and I'm told that every county in Wisconsin has slightly different rules, but I can't imagine absentee/early vote procedures are all that different.) In any event, if Hopper did early vote, as many politicians and campaign workers apparently do, there would be a paper trail, a document that makes this all very cut and dry. He would have also been required to show a photo ID (again, at least in Winnebago County), and on that particular detail we have much more below.
Again, these are all hypothetical situations that could probably be dismissed with a quick trip to the Fond du Lac County Clerk's office and an open records request, but all of this is small ball compared to the larger Voter ID issue coming soon to a state legislature near you.

For years Wisconsin Republicans have been crying foul with allegations of voter fraud and stolen Elections. They've claimed that the only way to maintain the integrity of the vote is to require people to show a photo ID at the poll without giving much consideration to the lives lived by students, minority and low income families (traditionally Democratic voters, by the way) that have lives with less housing stability and can't take off 1-3 hours to go stand in line at the DMV between the hours of 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday.

Hopper is also a busy guy, which is why I'd wager that Hopper availed himself of either early voting or absentee voting and in so doing left a paper trail that can resolve a lot of these questions. In both cases he would have had to sign documents certifying his residence. If he voted early (or "in-person absentee" as the kids call it), then he would have been required to show a photo ID.

Why is that important? Because when we look at the big picture of not just Hopper, but the laws governing how millions of people vote each year an amazing paradox becomes clear:

If Hopper has a state-issued photo ID for his current address, the apartment cited by his staff, which he received prior to last year's election when he voted legitimately at the proper polling place, then all of this discussion is kinda pointless. However, if he doesn't, as is his current right as a voter in Wisconsin, then the Wisconsin GOP's Voter ID argument falls through the floor. If the party backs him, Hopper becomes an extreme case of someone who can still vote legitimately despite serious questions about his ambiguous legal residency, which legitimize similar conditions for anyone who is not a state senator and demonstrates that IDs aren't necessary. Or the party can remain true to its own rhetoric, throw him under the proverbial bus and possibly lose the chance to push comprehensive Voter ID reform through the senate.

That's a dilemma that's almost cinematic in scope (albeit long on minutia). There's a lot going on here, but there's also a lot at stake. Voter ID is on its way and given the events of the last 6 weeks its entirely possible that Scott Walker will order it passed if he starts to get nervous about losing the senate. All of these questions and conjectures and hypotheticals can simply disappear with just a few answers. Unfortunately, Hopper's constituents -- of which I am one, may I remind you -- aren't being given those answers and that vacuum seems to get filled with even more questions.

MORE: This according to WKOW:
Campaign manager Jeff Harvey said Monday Hopper rented an apartment in the district.   But when an aide in Hopper’s senate office provided the address,  property records reflected a single family Town of Empire home co-owned by an employee of one of Hopper’s radio stations.   Campaign finance records also show the employee has contributed $450 to Hopper’s senate campaign committee.
Great. How long has he lived there? And where did he vote last November?

Crowdsourcing is hard.

MALcontends has more, as well.

"The Facts Will Set You Free"

Scott Walker has found his epitaph:
Walker, whose office released a detailed analysis of savings schools and local governments could attain, said many school officials are supportive but afraid to speak out. “And I understand that. We’ve seen the pressure, we’ve experienced that,” said Walker. “The facts will set you free. The facts are clear, and the facts clearly show that there are more savings for school districts across the state, then there are net reductions.”
Here's Politifact on Walker's tenuous grasp on the facts.

Here's Rusty King's instant classic "20 Lies (and Counting) Told by Scott Walker."

Here's the Journal-Sentinel saying that the Walker-led state GOP "did what they had said they would not do."

May Your St. Patrick's Day be as Merry as Glenn Grothman's Really Weird Encounter with some Random Dude

Police Incident PDF
via WSJ

Scott Walker's Plan for the Federal Government

Walker takes to the Washington Post editorial pages this morning to graft his budgetary solutions for Wisconsin on to the Fed's books. The only opponents he bothers mentioning in the piece are President Obama and "union leaders in Washington." and its not because he's already won the fight against Wisconsin Dems.

This entire budget/-repair fiasco has nothing to do with Wisconsin and everything to do with Scott Walker positioning himself to reach the next office.

Now This is Rich!

State Sen. Randy Hopper (center) posing with several marks union thugs constituents in what appears to be his capitol office.

Who is that fine-looking stud in the upper left hand corner?

[via Zach, who has been battling some epic technical issues due to a ton of traffic, but continues to soldier on.]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Should Probably be the End of Randy Hopper

There isn't a radio ad in the world that save someone from this shit:
Matt Phillips, Hopper's policy adviser, said Monday that Hopper is not breaking state law because he is living in his district, which includes Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Waupun and Omro.

Phillips provided The Capital Times with the address where Hopper is living in Fond du Lac on the condition the address would not be made public. He and Rebecca Hogan, Hopper's chief of staff, cited ongoing threats against Hopper and his family as the reason.

According to the online Fond du Lac County property tax map, the address is not an apartment, as Phillips said, but a roughly $600,000 home owned by a high-ranking employee of Hopper's media company, Mountain Dog Media.
Cue the filing of an official complaint! That's going to leave a mark.

If the above is confirmed, it will be a classic case of the cover-up outshining the "crime." Regardless of where Hopper was living he could have argued it satisfied the residency requirements (just as his opponents could have argued the opposite) and regardless of the outcome, he could have done so in good faith the same way folks have been earnestly arguing how many angles can dance on the head of a pin for centuries. But if, as this article suggests, his staffer passed on what appears to be a lie, then there will be hell to pay. It may not be in a court of law or before his colleagues in the senate, but it will be in terms of public opinion.

[via FW]

Hopper's Radio Ad

Audio here.

The ad actually contains the line "They (i.e. unions) want to hand-pick a senator that will vote the way they tell him to."

As if Hopper is a towering monument to independence that doesn't do exactly what the GOP leadership tells him to do...

Greg Sargent points out the inaccuracies in the ad and calls it evidence of Hopper's panic. Unfortunately, radio ads like these are fairly common around here during election season. While I agree that they certainly do get run from a position of weakness, negative garbage like this is usually the harbinger of an exchange of attack ads from both sides that lasts until the end of the campaign, which in this case might not be until June or July.

That means Hopper is taking the "high road" -- by which I mean he's going straight into the gutter so as to make people so sick of negative campaigning after being bombarded for months with the stuff that they lose interest.

Anyway, for something that might inspire a small chuckle take a look at the first entry under the "Likes" section of Hopper's Facebook page. Good stuff.

Everyone Hates Music Critics

I find this line profoundly hilarious:
One GOP aide unloaded on the conservatives, offering a more colorful view privately held by many other Republicans.

“These people aren’t thinking clearly. Their logic doesn’t pan out. They have NO plan. What concessions were they going to get if it failed? They were going to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood?” the source said, “It was totally reactionary. These people got elected to lead. Instead they got jerked around by the political equivalent of music critics. If these people knew anything about governing, they’d be in Congress, not lobbing bombs from the cheap seats and sending out fundraising emails.”
MORE: Wow, this post keeps giving!

So the very next line in this post is as follows:
The aide offered contempt for Pence in particular. “Pence is running for governor, and has to get through a primary, so his position is about as genuine as a $10 Gucci hand bag on Sunset Boulevard.”
To which epic asshole, RedState.com founder and, yes, CNN contributor Erick Erickson quipped:
I’ll first point out that Eric Cantor is well known to wear Gucci loafers. Second, I will pass comment on the sexual orientation of whoever came up with the Gucci hand bag line. Third, I would like to ask exactly whose side these Republicans are on.
In other words, "I'll just insinuate the aide is a fag instead of calling him one outright."

Which I find amusing largely because the gender of the aide is never mentioned and Erickson seems to dismiss the possibility that aide could be a woman out of hand.

He's also a homophobic dick, but you already knew that.

Spin of the Day

Oh, this comment was delightful:
"Timing is everything," said Robert Wood, BGR's government affairs president and a former top aide to Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R). "With Democrats' groups like MoveOn, Public Citizen and the International Socialist Organization committing upwards of $2 million in each of these potential Senate recalls, every dollar can help."
I'm going to wager that it took Mr. Wood every ounce of restraint in his body to keep himself from rubbing his nipples as he feed the reporter that quote.

I actually think this is a pretty positive development for Dems: instead of just being called socialists, Republicans are now citing specific socialist organizations to which they are allegedly aligned.

Also, the ISO must be making a killing selling enough copies of the "Socialist Worker" newspaper to pony up some political donations these days. My, how times change.

A Brief History of how Randy Hopper Lost Touch with his District

The big story in the paper today is that state senator Randy Hopper has hired  an out-of-state campaign operative to fight allegations that he doesn't live in his district, as well as to manage the recall campaign against him. This was probably counterproductive, in so far as it feeds into one of the long-broiling criticisms of Hopper: namely, that he's become too cool for school.

The thing(s) about the Hopper residency issue debacle is that isn't only that it's happening at a time when he's being recalled for unrelated reasons, but primarily because it's happening only after he's been in office for about two years. Why is that a big deal?

By all accounts, Hopper is really a splendid retail politician. He charmed the pants off a ton of people in his district (and apparently a few staffers in Madison, literally -- rimshot!). In fact, the word used to describe Hopper that I heard most frequently was "smooth." He campaigned as a reasonable, common-sense moderate in front of a good deal of locals who, not surprisingly, thought he would govern that way.

He may have only won by 187 votes, but he did so during 2008, a year that lesser Republican campaigns and candidates would have gotten steamrolled.

Needless to say, folks were a bit disheartened when he lurched hard right immediately upon taking the oath of office. During Hopper's first year in the Senate many folks began to get the impression that he enjoyed being a politician, and not necessarily "the representing his constituents part," a lot. Perhaps too much. So by the end of his first year Hopper had developed the reputation as someone who had gone Hollywood, er, Madison: he enjoyed the perks of office and was content with just being told what to do by the leadership.

At the same time it was clear the GOP leadership saw him as a potential rising start. Even as a freshman legislator he was given a leadership role on the partisan sideshow known as the Wisconsin Jobs NOW Task Force, a traveling series of listening sessions that concluded its business with a report that "coincidentally" (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) parroted the recommendations advocated by the local chapter of the Koch Brothers'-funded Americans for Prosperity. Hopper was proving to be a good soldier in Madison, and rumors started to circulate that Hopper was being groomed to inherit Rep. Tom Petri's congressional seat (or even something bigger).

Rumors of Hopper's issues back home really started to make the rounds among Oshkosh's water cooler in the fall of last year. By the time 2011 started, it was something of a shibboleth among people who kept up with public affairs, but weren't eager to appear as gossips. When Hopper earned an appointment to the powerful Joint Finance Committee in November, many people were incensed that Hopper was being rewarded with a prime seat at the cool kids table despite his lack of seniority and extracurricular issues.

Hopper's base has always been in Fond du Lac County, where he, um, resides. That portion of his district is much more conservative than the Winnebago county segment (FdL Co. voted for Scott Walker with a whopping 65% of the vote in 2010). Fondy is home to a good deal of union households who have jobs working for Mercury Marine, which explored relocation to Oklahoma (a so-called "right to work" state) in 2009. At the eleventh hour Mercury canceled the move after receiving generous tax incentive packages from state and local governments, as well as significant concessions from the union. The move would have cost Fondy at least 1850 jobs, in addition to many ancillary jobs from suppliers and so forth, and would have essentially decimated the city.

But Mercury didn't move and Hopper was visible in the negotiations that kept them here. A victory, right? Not quite. Last March Mercury started paying out bonuses to salaried employees, a move that did not sit well with hourly workers. Many of these folks are classic Reagan Democrats who have probably been voting Republican for years and may now realize that that they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

If perception is reality in politics, then the pervading perception of Hopper is that he's "gone native" during his brief time in Madison. For some elected officials it takes years, even decades, to earn this reputation, but Hopper fell into it so quickly that it's hard to both miss and defend. None of these issues by themselves are exactly minor -- the relationship with a Madison staffer/lobbyist, the residency questions, the out-of-state operative hires -- but they all come together to form a narrative of a fundamental disconnect between Hopper and his district, and that's before anyone mentions that he's been in unflinching lockstep with Scott Walker since January.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PPP Looks at the Recall Senate Districts

Above all, this data is fascinating in so far as it represents the rare occasion whereby state senate districts are given a thorough polling and then the results are made public. There's a funky chart you don't want to miss at the link, but here's the take-away:
"Vote Incumbent" and "Vote Democrat" summarize data from our most critical question. We asked poll-takers whether, in a hypothetical election that would be held later this year, they'd support the incumbent (whom we mentioned by name), or his/her "Democratic opponent." (This sort of question is often described as testing a "generic Democrat.") Here, the results give us reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Three Republican incumbents actually trail "generic Dem": Luther Olsen, Randy Hopper, and Dan Kapanke. Two more have very narrow leads and garner less than 50% support: Rob Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf. And one more, Alberta Darling, holds a clear lead but is still potentially vulnerable. (Two recall-eligible senators, Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, sit in extremely red districts and look to have safe leads.) These numbers suggest we have a chance to make five and possibly six recall races highly competitive.
 Also worth noting:
One final detail: You'll notice that in the table up above, the last column reads "Number of Responses." That refers to how many people actually completed our poll when we called them. If you're familiar with electoral polling at all, those numbers are simply eye-popping, particularly for state senate districts. Our target was 600 to 800 respondents per poll, and yet we got well into the two thousand range for all but one of them (and even that outlier had over 1,300). What does this mean? The only reasonable conclusion is that an unusually high proportion of Wisconsinites are tuned into this conflict, and when given the opportunity to make their opinions heard, they jumped at the chance. While we can't yet say for sure whether the enthusiasm gap has been erased, we do know that folks in Wisconsin are very definitely paying attention.

Monday, March 14, 2011

45% of Recall Signatures

From Greg Sargent:
Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from roughly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.

In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the alloted time remaining.


According to Wisconsin Dem spokesman Zielinski, Dems are ahead of pace in signature gathering in every single one of the eight districts being targeted, and in three of the districts, Dems have well over 50 percent of the number required.
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out in Grothman's and Lazich's districts, which are the most conservative of the eight eligible. I would have thought these were lose causes from the get-go, but these figures suggest that perhaps a Dem might be able to slip into those seats during a special election wherein the the conservative base to dispirited or otherwise occupied with something else. I wouldn't count on it happening, but the odds seem a little less ridiculous than they did just a month ago.

MORE: This will not help things:
As WisPolitics reports, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) sent a letter to his fellow Republicans, reminding them that they had previously found the Democrats to be in contempt of the chamber -- and as such, they are not to be allowed to vote on committees.
It will be absolutely fascinating to watch happens to Fitzgerald should he suddenly find himself in the minority in the next six months. From the outside it appears that Fitzgerald doesn't seem to care what kind of damage he is doing to his relationships with his colleagues across the aisle, so long as he is able to shepard Walker's legislative agenda through the senate. It will be interesting to see what kind of recriminations, if any, he will have to deal with in the future.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sheboygan Press Excoriates Scott Walker

Yeah, it was three days ago, but it minces no words doing so:

The shell game Gov. Scott Walker has played the last two weeks is pathetic. Say one thing, and then do another.


We can't say if the conference committee meeting that led up to the "new" budget repair bill — which used the "emergency" and "special session" exceptions to the 24-hour notice required by state Open Meetings Law — was illegal. But the way Republicans conducted themselves was unethical.


Last fall, The Sheboygan Press endorsed Walker, Sen. Joe Leibham, Rep. Steve Kestell and challenger Mike Endsley (over incumbent Terry Van Akkeren) because each of the four, in interviews, public forums, debates and campaign literature, listed their primary goals as job creation and balancing the state budget.

In retrospect, had any of them even hinted at the draconian measure of scraping collective bargaining for public employees, we would most likely have thought differently.


But the way things have gone these last three weeks, it appears Walker's motive all along has been equally focused on union busting as budget balancing.

He said nothing about taking away collective bargaining when he demanded in December that Democratic Senators — who were soon to be in the minority — not push through new state employee contracts. Walker said he wanted the ability to get concessions from state workers. It wasn't until then that Walker said he would consider abolishing state employee unions if he didn't get his way and he apparently had no intention of ever negotiating or even talking with unions.

Like many others who supported Walker and Republicans last fall, we are feeling like we've been duped.

Friday, March 11, 2011

State Senator Randy Hopper Needs to be Investigated for Voter Fraud and Embezzlement


In Wisconsin legislators who live outside Dane County get a per diem of $88 a day when they travel to Madison for work (inside Dane Co. legislators get $44/day). If Hopper claimed the outside Dane County per diems when he was, in fact, living inside Dane County, now we're talking about possible embezzlement charges. This would probably make him subject to Dane County prosecution. If that's the case, he should be investigated by the Dane County DA.


Alright, this post was inspired by a painful conversation Zach is having with a troll over at Blogging Blue, so let's go through some of the residency issues associated with Randy Hopper's displacement.

Evidently, he no longer lives where his state web site says he lives.

That's a problem. Now, since he's going through a divorce and houses are usually contentiously disputed items between parties, there's a possibility that Hopper still owns part or all of his home and pays property taxes on the residency. Fair enough, but he wouldn't be the first legislator to own two residencies. His predecessor in the 18th district, Carol Roessler had homes in Oshkosh and Waukau, for example (and towards the end of her tenure in the senate she was criticized for spending more time outside the district than in it), so it could be an issue of determining what Hopper's "primary" residence is.

One of the ways of determining this would be to compare the number of nights he's spent in Fondy to the number of nights he's been in Madison. Presumably Hopper didn't stick around Fondy after he filed for divorce on August 18th of last year and there's a possibility that he's been crashing in Madison every since. If that's the case, then Hopper is a Madison resident when it comes to voting.

In fact, if Hopper lived in Madison between August 18th and the November 2nd election, yet returned to Fond du Lac to vote during the midterm election, he may have committed voter fraud. Voting laws in Wisconsin require people to vote at the polling place for where they have been living for 10 days prior to the election (that's the extremely short version of the law). If Hopper was essentially living with his girlfriend during that time then his proper polling place should have been in Madison.

Now we have to ask ourselves what constituents "living," which isn't an easy question to answer under the circumstances. Did Hopper plan on returning to Fond du Lac? If so, did he make an effort to find another residence in the district? When? How often? How many nights did he spend in Fondy? How many in Madison? Did he co-sign the lease with his mistress when they moved in together? Has he payed part or all of the rent of his Madison residence? What about the phone bill for a land line? Does he rent a parking space in Madison? These may seem like trivial questions but they will now have to be asked to determine a pattern of living that should dictate where Hopper should have voted during the last election.

Right now there's a very good case to be made that Hopper is a Madison resident, has been for the last 6-7 months, and was on November 2nd of last year. If he voted in Fond du Lac, he may have committed voter fraud. It's entirely possible he committed voter fraud unintentionally, but he still broke the law. There's a very similar case involving an elected official in Indiana moving through the courts as we speak.

Let me stress the conditional nature of everything written above. It's entirely possible Hopper's done nothing wrong. The nature of the information currently available to the public, however, seems to suggest otherwise. I'm going to go ahead and assume that Hopper is on good enough terms with the Fond du Lac county district attorney that he won't be investigated by that body, nor will the J.B. Van Hollen give much thought to the matter. I doubt the Dane County DA would have an jurisdictional authority to look into something like this (I could be wrong, but doubt it). [See update above.]

So this is now a job for an aggressive an inquisitive media. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cap Times, State Journal, Oshkosh Northwestern, Fond du Lac Reporter -- this is your time to shine. Again, it's entirely possible that Hopper didn't do anything illegal. Hell, he may not have even voted in last year's election at all, but if he did, he sure as hell better have done it properly.

Why Randy Hopper's Residency Matters

In case anyone doesn't immediately see the consequences of the Randy Hopper Residency question, allow me to explain:

Voter ID is going to be the next thing the Wisconsin GOP rams through the legislature and protecting a senator who may be committing vote fraud as a legislator really undermines the GOP's ability to try and make the case that IDs are need to control fraud at the polls.

Wisconsin will get some kind of change to it's voting laws, that much is certain, but to the extent that Hopper is legitimately living where he claims to be living could determine just how much change we're going to get.

Does Randy Hopper even meet the Residency Requirements to Represent his District Anymore?

Well, here's a funky development on the Randy Hopper recall front:
[P]rotesters outside the Hopper house this week in Fond du Lac were met by his wife who reportedly came out and told them: Hopper no longer lives there, but with his 25-year-old mistress in Madison. 
If he no longer has a residence in Fond du Lac, but instead is keeping a love nest in Madison, Hopper might not meet the legal residency requirements for serving his Senate District.

Infidelity aside, this is a legal issue that voters might want to get straightened out.

MORE: Actually, lets take this thought experiment further: If he has not been fulfilling the residency requirements for some time now, has Randy Hopper been ineligibly representing his district in the Senate for however many months he's been living shacked up in his Madison love nest? What does that do to the votes he's since January?

Now those are some questions that will require professional attention.

Citing recent threats during the budget repair bill battle, Republican Senator Randy Hopper says he will not participate in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Fond du Lac.

In a written statement, Senator Hopper said, "I had looked forward to walking the parade route and sharing this celebration with my family, friends, neighbors, and constituents, but I, in no way, want to put the citizens of Fond du Lac in harm's way."
Yeah, I'm sure it has nothing to do with potential YouTube clips of Hopper being booed and heckled continuously during a three mile walk through downtown Fondy.

In fact, I imagine Hopper's going to keep a pretty low profile as news of unique living situation starts to work its way through Wisconsin.

MORE STILL: If I'm reading this correctly, Hopper's roommate might have lost her job today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Word of Advice for Sen. Randy Hopper

There's an ancient Chinese proverb that goes something like this: Try not to cheat on your wife with a 20-something year old Madison staffer on your way home from work.

Maybe it's Japanese, I forget just which one.

Video link here.

All Hail the Internets!


Read Sen. Randy Hopper's Desperate Cry for Help Money, Coming to a Mail Box Near You Soon!

Got this in the mail today. Someone sounds scared:

Hello My Friend,

Last November, you and I witnessed a historic election will not forget. All across the country, voters elected leaders who share our principles of fiscal responsibility and economic freedom.

In Wisconsin, our newly-elected governor and newly-elected majority in the legislature immediately went to work on the issues you elected us to do. Governor Walker called the legislature into a Special Session, and I am proud to say we have already enacted a number of bills to kick-start job creation and economic development in Wisconsin.

But now, more than ever before, I need your help!
Governor Walker recently introduced a budget repair bill to help Wisconsin climb out from the massive budget deficit we face. In order to address our problem, Governor Walker proposed that government employees pay a modest amount of their pension and health insurance costs -- something individuals in the private sector began doing long ago.

But with these bold new measures, comes a battle.

As you have seen, this is not sitting well with the leaders of those government employee unions who are desperately trying to undo last November's election. First, they tried to bully and intimidate me into abandoning my principles. When that didn't work, the minority party in the senate fled the state in an attempt to procedurally block any ability to pass the bill. Now they have filed a RECALL against me and seven of my colleagues. Democrats are amassing a huge war chest to go after those of us who have the courage of our convictions. They are already gathering signatures.

I am asking for your support so I can fight back. Please contribute $1000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or even $25. Please know that any and all contributions are very much needed so I can promote our message of fiscal conservatism.

Government employee union representatives and their members have come out in full force against Governor Walker's proposal. The protests are daily, and the political unrest is escalating. Now they are threatening me with this RECALL for standing firm to my beliefs of smaller government, less taxes and creating jobs in the public sector.

But you and other voters spoke loud and clear in November. You gave us a mandate to change the way government operates in Wisconsin. For too long we have ignored the real problems of our fiscal challenges, and the time to fix them has come. But change is HARD, and the opposition is FIERCE.

I have always said it is more important to do this job than keep it. But I will not lie down. I will keep fighting for what we believe. I know you will join me in this fight.

I look forward to and appreciate your support.



Randy Hopper

P.S. - Our fiscal conservative principles are under attack and I need you help. Please also consider contributing online at XXXXXXXXXXXX or by mailing in the enclosed card today!
This looks like the kind of fund-raising appeal written by some consultant who will collect 30% of whatever comes in; so if you're in a giving mood, why not see just how strong Hopper's convictions really are by dropping some coins in this bucket?

Commence Editorials!

The Journal-Sentinel wasted little time in criticizing last night GOP power grab:
But the Republicans went too far in their zeal to bust the unions and too far in their stubborn tactics to accomplish that mission. They are forcing these changes on an unwilling state at great cost - and they still haven't filled the budget hole the original measure was designed to fill.
And then,
Republicans, in the end, did what they had said they would not do: They cast aside provisions in the "budget-repair" bill that actually dealt with the budget and took an up-or-down vote on ending most collective bargaining. Fiscal matters require a Senate quorum of 20; the Republicans have only 19 members.
The editorial specifically calls out the Brothers Fitzgerald, which is almost as much fun as watching video of Scott Fitzgerald running out of the conference committee like a thief being replayed on every news channel this morning.

I'm sure various polling firms are going to be pounding the pavement in Wisconsin pretty hard this weekend. I can't wait to see what the numbers look like next week.

Kickflipping a Surfboard

Since Wisconsin is about to devolve into a rage-filled cesspool of vitriol for what one can only assume will be the next year and a half (seriously, folks, think about that for a second: we may be in the middle of what amounts to a 2 and 1/2 year election season here in the Badger State), so take a moment an appreciate this gnarly use of a surfboard:

Pretty cool, no?

The thing that impresses me the most about this little trick is that the surfer (whose name is Zoltan Torkos, also impressive) is actually wearing a leash. I don't know how he's able to keep it from getting wrapped around the board during the kickflip.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Confessions of a Walker Recall Skeptic Scott Walker is Fucked

Regardless of how the current run of state senate recalls works out, I still think a successful recall of Scott Walker isn't likely, but the more more the Guvna and Fitzgerald try to bull rush legislation, the better the odds that Walker -- or anything he manages to get done during his tenure -- is not long for this world:
We're still trying to clarify the details. But it looks like Wisconsin Republicans have decided to make their move, redefining the union-busting portions of the budget bill as non-budgetary and voting through those provisions tonight.

The irony here is that the union-busting provisions really are not budgetary -- they're simply an attempt to eliminate unions in the state. But Gov. Walker's argument throughout has been that they are budgetary measures and necessary to avert fiscal catastrophe.
More details as we get them.
Late Update: Word we're getting is that the state unions were basically caught flat-footed by this move, did not see it coming.
Unions can probably hold out on whatever Walker does to dismantle them for a calender year, so by all means, please keep up the fine work.

MORE: Let the shitstorm begin! I think we can now expect at least three senatorial recalls, possibly more.

Oh, Lord...

It's sorta pathetic watching someone who really should know better fall flat on his ass when trying to make a point, but if you want to see a tuckus do a Triple Lindy and stick the landing, go no further than to Marquette University's very own  right-wing shill esteemed professor of something John McAdams, who is able to unearth vast demographic insights into the listenership of NPR from a single voluntary online poll.

I'm sure that for his next post Prof. McAdams will explain to the world why Ron Paul will be the next President of the United States.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kindly Return the Kraken to its Humble Abode, Good Sir.

Here's Charlie Sykes trying his damnedest to spin the disastrous results of the recent WPRI poll that came out this weekend:
Bottom line: three weeks into the fight, Walker (a) needs to sharpen his messaging, and (b) while the unions have clearly scored some points, this fight is eminently winnable.
It's such a measured and sedate statement that Sykes had to print it in bold to give it any energy.

Contrast this glass-is-half-full sheen with his post on Election Day morning:
What a difference four months makes.

Hey, You Know What's a Great Idea?

Holding a fundraiser in the midst of a budget 'crisis' and free-falling approval ratings, because that's not at all an easy place for demonstrators to target.

Everything Scott Walker seems to touch seems to turn to shit these days.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ronald Reagan on Unions and Collective Bargaining

Samuel Gompers believed with all his heart that if a worker was properly and fairly paid for his work, he could provide for himself without having to hold out this hand to a caseworker for government-provided benefits. He was a champion of collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining in the years since has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere. Too often, discussion about the labor movement concentrates on disputes, corruption, and strikes. But while these things are headlines, there are thousands of good agreements reached and put into practice every year without a hitch.

Part of successful collective bargaining is honest, straightforward exchanges. A number of Presidents have observed that of all the meetings in the Oval Office, the most direct, productive, and useful have been with the leaders of organized labor. Straight talk has always been a feature of these exchanges, and that’s a tradition I want to continue here today. You and I may not always agree, as President Konyha said, on everything, but we should always remember how much we have in common.

I can guarantee you today that this administration will not fight inflation by attacking the sacred right of American workers to negotiate their wages. We propose to control government, not people. Now, today I want to express again my belief in our American system of collective bargaining and pledge that there will always be an open door to you in this administration.


Some people would have forgotten — except your president very graciously reminded you — that I am the first man to attain this high office who was formerly president of an AF of L - CIO union.
~ Ronald Reagan, 3 September 1981. Remarks in Chicago, Illinois, at the Annual Convention and Centennial Observance of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.
It' important to note that Reagan gave this speech less than a month after firing striking air traffic controllers.

Walker claims he's acting as Reagan would, but the fact of the matter is that Walker does not fundamentally understand how unions fit into Reagan's worldview. Re-read the second to last paragraph quoted above:

I can guarantee you today that this administration will not fight inflation by attacking the sacred right of American workers to negotiate their wages. We propose to control government, not people. 
Scott Walker is proposing to do just the opposite: he's using the levers of government to deny people the right organize for their own economic well-being.

In many of Reagan's other writings, in particular those supporting the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Gipper lays out that unions are a check against government power and abuse. He was incredibly eloquent about reserving a place at the table for unions and that's one of the reasons why there were so many Reagan Democrats, many from union households that supported him. Read the whole speech here.