Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claims that Ohio’s overwhelming rejection of anti-labor legislation modeled on the measures he developed and promoted in the Badger State will have no bearing on the debate about whether he should remain in office.
The governor is in full spin mode.
No surprise there. The governor faces the threat of a recall drive that begins at 12:01 am Tuesday—a grassroots initiative organized by the same sort of labor, farm and community coalition that overturned the Ohio law.
By any measure, last Tuesday’s election results from Ohio represented a devastating rejection of the agenda Walker and his allies have been peddling since February. Offered an opportunity to endorse a Walker-style attack on collective bargaining rights for state, county and municipal workers and teachers, Ohioans voted “no” by 61-39 percent.
Of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties—with big cities, small towns and rural areas—eighty-two voted to defend public employees and their unions.
More Ohioans took a pro-union position in 2011 than voted for the governor who promoted the anti-labor legislation, John Kasich, in 2010.
Faced with the facts, Walker’s political team claimed that comparisons of Wisconsin and Ohio were “ridiculous.” The governor, appearing at a hair-styling school in Green Bay, said of the Ohio results: “I don’t think they will have any correlation [here in Wisconsin].”
Funny, that’s not what Wisconsin’s governor was saying back in February, when he refused to negotiate with unions representing state employees, and when he and his aides tried to lock hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites out of the state Capitol.
Back when he was refusing to talk to state employees and citizens, the governor did take a call that he thought was from billionaire political donor David Koch.
During that call, Walker and Koch spoke at some length about how the fights in Wisconsin and Ohio were the same, and about how Walker was guiding Ohio Governor Kasich through the process of undermining labor rights and unions.
“I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio,” Walker told the caller he thought was David Koch.
Walker said that Kasich was one of the new Republican governors who, like the Wisconsinite, “got elected to do something big.”
“You’re the first domino,” the Koch caller said of Walker’s anti-labor push in Wisconsin.
“Yes,” replied Walker. “This is our moment.”
Throughout the conversation, Walker portrayed himself as the quarterback of a national push to cut pay and benefits for teachers and other public workers, and to crush unions. And he suggested that Kasich was on his team, carrying out the same mission in Ohio that Walker has undertaken in Wisconsin.
“Little did I know how big it would be nationally,” Walker chirped. “This is our time to change the course of history.”
It is true that this is a “change the course of history” moment. Ohio started the change with the referendum vote. Wisconsin will take it the next step with the recall.