Ohio voters came out in full force Tuesday to repeal the state’s controversial anti-union law that stripped government workers of virtually all of their collective bargaining rights.The law, known as Senate Bill 5, was overturned in a nearly two-to-one vote. The results were a huge win for public-sector unions and their Democratic backers, nationally as well as in the state.
At the same time, the outcome was a major blow to Republican Gov. John Kasich, who had made the bill a central piece of his legislative agenda. Kasich used a lot of his political capital promoting SB5, even as it became clear that the law was unpopular. The bill — which limited bargaining even for first responders — was widely seen as overreach, even among those who believe public-sector unions should be curtailed.
In the end, Kasich was out-campaigned — and outspent — by the unions, who poured more than $30 million into the repeal effort.
“When you get beat, you got to admit it,” Kasich said in a press conference tonight, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s clear that the people have spoken.”
Democrats were emboldened by the outcome, which handed the party an early win in a key 2012 battleground state and proved that liberals haven’t completely lost their mojo since 2008.
“Tonight, Ohio’s voters rejected Issue 2 as a blatantly partisan attempt to lay the blame for our economy on middle class Americans, while letting the wealthiest and special interests off the hook and not asking them to pay their fair share,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “Tonight’s vote was a defeat for Ohio Republicans, and it was a defeat for Republican presidential candidates like Romney who supported the effort to take away the rights of Ohio’s workers. Their actions were an insult to working families across the state — an insult Ohio voters won’t soon forget.”
Even the Obama administration shared in the gloating, with White House Press Secretary issuing this statement:
The President congratulates the people of Ohio for standing up for workers and defeating efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights, and commends the teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers and other workers who took a stand to defend those rights.
Vice President Joe Biden was much less reserved:
Tonight the people of Ohio delivered a gigantic victory for the middle class with their overwhelming rejection of a Republican attempt to strip away collective bargaining rights. Fundamental fairness has prevailed. By standing with teachers and firefighters and cops, Ohio has sent a loud and clear message that will be heard all across the country: The middle class will no longer be trampled on. The people of Ohio are to be congratulated.
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