Yesterday’s Wisconsin election results, in which Gov. Scott Walker (R) held onto his office—thanks to a $50 million war chest—but lost the state Senate, “is not the end of the story, but just the beginning,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at an afternoon press conference today.
Noting that Walker was the best-funded politician in state history, Trumka said, “We knew a recall election would be tough, and we knew we would be outspent.” But he added Wisconsin working people provided an incredible counter to Walker’s mostly out-of-state funded campaign that held a seven-to-one spending edge.
We have been awed by the tremendous outpouring of solidarity and energy from Wisconsin’s working families, against overwhelming odds.
While some right-wing pundits and media outlets have claimed that Walker won significant support from union families, an election night poll of Wisconsin union members by Hart Research Associates for the AFL-CIO shows a huge majority of union voters backed Tom Barrett. Overall union members supported Walker’s recall by a 75 percent to 25 percent margin, with public-sector union members coming in at 85 percent to 15 percent for Barrett. Union members, says Hart’s Guy Molyneux:
are not climbing aboard the Walker agenda.
Union voters also stood strongly for Barrett despite the multimillion-dollar barrage of TV and radio ads. Some 69 percent of union members say they saw and heard far more ads for Walker than Barrett during the course of the campaign.
Wisconsinites also voted to return the state Senate to Democrats. Sen. John Lehman's victory over Walker ally state Sen. Van Wanggaard gives Democrats a one-seat (17-16) majority in the state Senate, making it much harder for Walker to push his virulently anti-worker agenda.
Trumka noted Tuesday’s results are “not the crystal ball that predicts the future,” and added that as the November elections approach, “working people will mobilize every day to create a future America worthy of our great country.”
The new model that Wisconsin’s working families have built won’t go away after one election—it will only grow. The Wisconsin recall was never by itself going to end the struggle for economic justice in Wisconsin or the country. Just as working people’s defeat of John Kasich’s S.B. 5 in Ohio didn’t. Yesterday’s historic recall elections were an important moment, and an important message has been sent—politicians will be held to account by working people.