The most dramatic political development (in terms of state governance) so far this year has been the passage of anti-public employee union legislation in the Middle West.
Next Tuesday, Wisconsin will give us our first look at the political consequences, when people there will vote in a statewide special election for a State Supreme Court seat.
That election has become a de facto referendum on Governor Scott Walker’s legislative (and anti-union) agenda. Our sources indicate that the Republican incumbent, who won the February primary vote in a near-landslide, no longer commands a majority in private polling and that turnout will determine the outcome of the race. All of the turnout juice — the so-called enthusiasm factor — right now is on the Democratic side.
Ohio’s recently-passed anti-public employee union law is, if anything, even more stringent than the one passed by Governor Walker. The cutting off of an extension of unemployment benefits in Missouri and the curtailment of the eligibility window for those benefits in Michigan are two other developments that have not gone unnoticed in Middle America. The fact that Republicans are leading all these efforts raises the question: will there be national political blowback?
The answer is almost certainly “yes.” Exhibit A can be found in this story from Politico. Jeanne Cummings reports that public safety union officials, in the wake of what’s happened in the Midwest, are turning on the GOP. Cummings reports:
It’s a political shift that could have significant repercussions, and not just because these right-leaning union members vote for Republicans in sizable numbers. Angry cops and firefighters make for bad PR – especially after Republicans under President George W. Bush aligned themselves so successfully with the heroes of 9/11 in the years since then.
Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his members are “shocked” by the turn of events.
“Who are these evil teachers who teach your children, these evil policemen who protect them, these evil firemen who pull them from burning buildings? When did we all become evil?” said Canterbury, whose union endorsed Bush in 2000 and 2004 and John McCain in 2008.
He is travelling the country to rally FOP members to rise up against anti-labour laws in their states or in support of their colleagues in other states. “There is going to be a backlash,” said Canterbury, a former county police officer in South Carolina. “We are going to hold them accountable.”
We’ll have more on this next week.
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