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Recall seems like one big waste of money

June 7, 2012
Marshall Independent

Wisconsin once again has it over Minnesota.

Its major college sports teams beat ours on a regular basis, its pro football team has enjoyed taking it to ours quite often during the last couple of years, apparently they make better cheese in Wisconsin, and now it's trumped us in yet another category: dysfunctional government and crazy, costly elections.

And here we in Minnesota sat, thinking we have a messed up system. Before Tuesday's recall-to-end-all-recalls election between Gov. Scott Walker and his challenger Tom Barrett, we seemed to have the market cornered for attention-grabbing races. We had the eight-month Coleman-Franken recount and more recently were blessed with the Dayton-Emmer recount. And as far as out-of-whack legislation, who can forget the three-week government shutdown of a year ago?

Ahh, memories.

But our good neighbors to the east have once again wrestled the spotlight away from us with a recall election that cost millions upon millions of in-state and out-of-state dollars, only to come to the same conclusion - that Scott Walker is the state's governor. No need to wait until November in Wisconsin, a state clearly politically divided, even moreso than Minnesota. Yes, the controversial Gov. Walker won, just as he did in the last election, in what was reportedly the most expensive campaign in Wisconsin history.

The roughly $63 million spent in this election is about double what was spent in the 2010 race, and about $16 million of the $29 million pro-Walker money spent came from outside of Wisconsin.

Was all that money spent really worth it? We suppose if you're a Walker backer it was, as he defeated Barrett by a wider margin this week than he did in 2010. Obviously settling political civil wars is expensive. But did anything really get settled?

Walker burst onto the national spotlight in 2011 when, in one of his first moves in office, he unveiled his plan to plug a $3.6 billion budget shortfall in part by taking away the union rights of many public workers and requiring them to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits.

Soon after, you could almost see the writing on the wall - that a recall was imminent. Turns out, Walker's union-busting idea ended up costing him more than even he could've imagined. Apparently, spending tons of money really does pay off.

Give credit to the people of Wisconsin, who turned out in droves to vote Tuesday - the unofficial turnout surpassed the 2.16 million who voted in the 2010 race that Walker won. The governor won 38 percent of the vote among members of union households, exit polling showed, roughly reflecting the partisan breakdown among union members.

Those numbers were barely unchanged from the 2010 race between the same two candidates.

The only thing that did change this time around is the amount of money spent on the election.



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