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Wisconsin outcome signals opportunity for Romney

By Thomas Beaumont
Associated Press


MILWAUKEE » Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recall victory in Wisconsin sets the stage for what's now expected to be a hard-fought presidential battle for this Midwestern state.

The Republican's solid victory served as a warning for President Barack Obama about the potential hurdles he faces as he fights to hang onto a traditionally Democratic battleground he won comfortably in 2008. And, at least for now, it gave presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney a reason to feel optimistic about his chances of winning a state that has voted for the Democratic nominee in the past six elections.

The Wisconsin election tested voter attitudes toward Walker's aggressive governing style as well as a law that ended collective bargaining for most public employees and teachers.

"Gov. Romney has an opportunity ... to come in between now and Nov. 6 and make the case that he's willing to make those same sort of tough decisions," Walker told Fox News Channel on the eve of his victory.

In the coming days, national Republicans and Democrats alike will re-evaluate the Wisconsin political landscape. In setting their presidential campaign strategies, they will take into consideration the state's 6.7 percent unemployment rate — lower than the national average — the heavy chunk of independent-minded voters and the partisan atmosphere that led to the effort to recall Walker.

Both Obama and Romney had been waiting until after the recall election to determine how hard to compete here. Even so, their teams had been hinting in the days leading up to the recall about how Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes fit into their state-by-state game plans for reaching the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

Obama's team, which has been on the ground organizing but hasn't spent money on advertising for months, signaled this week that it believed the state had grown more competitive. In May, campaign manager Jim Messina had said Wisconsin was trending toward the president. By Monday, he was listing Wisconsin as "undecided."

There's no doubt now that Obama will defend his turf. Not that he has much of a choice.

Romney now plans to compete in the state aggressively, looking to capitalize on the Republican momentum that carried Walker to victory. His team considers Wisconsin a top target, along with Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and more attractive than even Romney's native Michigan, where the campaign had hoped to establish an Upper Midwest beachhead.

"The close vote on Tuesday confirms that Wisconsin will be a swing state," said Republican strategist Terry Nelson, an adviser to George W. Bush.

An exit poll of voters Tuesday that was conducted for The Associated Press sketched the state of the race in Wisconsin five months before the election, though November's electorate might be substantially different.

Walker supporter Susan Piekenbrock said his victory would likely mean she'd support Romney but not guarantee it.

"Do I like everything Romney says? No," said Piekenbrock, a longtime Democrat-turned-independent from West Allis, a western suburb of Milwaukee. "I'll support Romney if the reform theme is the same as Walker's."

Danielle Scriver's support for Walker is synonymous with Romney. "When you consider Obama is the alternative, it's automatic," the Republican from Racine said.

Obama had a 51-44 percent edge over Romney in exit polling, and more Wisconsin voters said that the president would do a better job improving the economy and helping middle-class voters than his GOP rival would. A sizable 1 in 5, however, said they trust neither party's candidate on the economy, the main issue in the presidential campaign.

"These data points clearly demonstrate a very steep pathway for Mitt Romney to recover in the state," Obama's Wisconsin campaign director, Tripp Wellde, said in a statement.

But there are warning signs for Obama, too.

Independent voters, who made up a third of the recall electorate and typically decide close elections, broke for Walker 53-45. And the power was on display of both the GOP's robust national get-out-the-vote effort and of deep-pocketed Republican super political action committees, which poured $18 million into the state to help Walker. Unions, a key Democratic constituency, failed to get their rank-and-file members to rally behind Barrett, an ominous sign for a Democratic presidential candidate counting on those ground troops.

Four years ago, Obama won the state by 14 percentage points. Democrats John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000 carried the state by less than a single percentage point. Observers say Tuesday's results may foreshadow a similar scenario in November.

Neither Obama nor Romney had run TV ads in the state though that likely will change, with campaigns and super PACs alike gearing up to pour money into Wisconsin.

Expect both candidates to visit more frequently, too. Obama and Romney had steered clear of the state in the heat of the recall campaign.

Obama, careful not to weigh too deeply into what ended up being a losing race, didn't campaign for Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Instead, the president posted an endorsement of Barrett on Twitter and emailed a Web video to Wisconsin supporters encouraging them to back Barrett. Obama also dispatched top surrogates including former President Bill Clinton and Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to the state.

Romney, for his part, has not visited Wisconsin, advertised here or had staff on the ground since winning the Republican presidential primary in April. Campaign officials said the former Massachusetts governor plans to convert the 26 offices that helped Walker into get-out-the-vote centers for his candidacy.

Romney hailed Walker's triumph as an endorsement of conservative fiscal policy, not a plug for the status quo, with national implications.

The results, he said in a statement, "will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin."

While Obama has included Wisconsin in most of his scenarios for winning the White House, he conceivably could win a second term without it. But having to compete aggressively for Wisconsin means Obama will have fewer resources to spend in high-priority targets like Ohio and Florida.

"As both campaigns look at the data in the coming days and weeks, I think it's going to show that Wisconsin is a state that's a toss-up in the presidential campaign," said Romney's political director, Rich Beeson.

Democratic pollster Paul Maslin is betting that Walker's win will motivate Obama supporters from 2008.

"People aren't going to abandon their judgment," said Maslin, who is based in Madison and polled for Barrett's primary opponent Kathleen Falk. "That's why I think, at the end of the day, if it's really close, Obama wins."

Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in New Hampshire and Scott Bauer in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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serious wrote:
Wonderful news: a politician with guts to face the Unions. If JFK were to write his Profiles in Courage today, it would have just one person: Governor Walker!!! Glad the voters in Wisconsin did the right thing!
on June 6,2012 | 03:43AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Hello Hawaii politicians, do you have the courage to reform public UNIONS? Or, are you too busy feeding at the UNION trough?
on June 6,2012 | 05:46AM
Changalang wrote:
The State Constitution insures the taxpayers will cover any pension shortages by whatever means possible in Hawaii. That is why Lingle's AG was pushing for a Con-Con so hard.
on June 6,2012 | 07:30AM
tiki886 wrote:
Didn't Cayetano at one time push for Civil Service reform? Did that involve any collective bargaining issues?
on June 6,2012 | 07:54AM
Changalang wrote:
I can't remember. I was not totally awake at that point in my life. All I know is that the pension is Constitutionally protected and as an fiscally savvy individual, it is a much greater threat to the cost of living in Hawaii for the next generation than anything else. I am just clearly identifying that Hawaii is the opposite of Wisconsin and defining the hurdles towards changing it. Any Legislature will not amend to let the pension funding off the hook, because many are double and triple dipped. Best to plan for the inevitable. My goals are to share information so my neighbors can plan as well.
on June 6,2012 | 08:58AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Still sleeping somewhere?
on June 6,2012 | 09:27AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
I hope not at Stadium Park, lol.
on June 6,2012 | 09:28AM
Changalang wrote:
I'll bring some cash by your tent hoping you'll spend it on food instead of continuing your obvious generous use of street drugs. On second thought, I'll just give you some McDonald's coupons so you can walk around the corner for a McDouble. Talking and joking to yourself is rampant within the drug induced mentally ill segment of the homeless. We don't blame you, but choices have consequences. :)
on June 6,2012 | 10:01AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
That is what u think? Wait until u find me at City Hall.
on June 6,2012 | 01:03PM
Changalang wrote:
Just a short walk to Kekela from there. :)
on June 6,2012 | 02:31PM
cojef wrote:
Spomewhere there is a negotiable area in regards to pension reform. Contribution %; health insurance premium participation; collective bargaining in certain governmental functions, are sum areas that can help in balancing the budget. Otherwise, entitlements leads to a road similar to Greece, Spain and Italy, when you "kick the can down the road" forever. Also, you can look for street demonstrations of likes never before experienced.
on June 6,2012 | 09:31AM
Changalang wrote:
Preparation for worst case scenario is always the prudent path to insure survivability. No other State has so strong a dialed in pension burden to the taxpayer. Hawaii is the Alamo for entitlements. I prefer to stay warm next to the union fire simultaneously paying my determined share as a private sector non-pension working neighbor/citizen.
on June 6,2012 | 10:05AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
They need hay to continue their sustenance. However it needs to be noted that Lingle was a two term governor, a title that Frank could not hang a feather on because Pope Ariyoshi hung on to the job like FDR. Thank goodness for term limits and had it not been for the mudslinging in the Heftel Waihee battle, things at Washington Place would have turned out much different that Hawaii history has seen. This is Reggie, over and out. Danke Schoen.
on June 6,2012 | 09:24AM
kainalu wrote:
When "the Greatest Generation" came back from saving the world after WWII, they came home to a United States of America where 4 in 5 workers were in Unions. Unions formed of course, to protect the working-class. Most people in the United States work under conditions established by Unions: 8-hour work-day, 40-hour work-week, hourly wages, pensions, lunchbreaks, annual and sick leave, equal-opportunity and overtime. Now, only 1 in 5 work in Unions, and the divide between the "haves" and "have nots" has reached a level not seen since before the Great Depression. If you're a working-class STIFF that's spewing anti-Union garbage, the Corporate-rich and those Republicans in their pocket have you right where they want you. Get ready to work 10-hours for 8-hours pay - 50-cents an-hour or two-bucks-a-day - and if you're a female expecting a paycheck? On your knees. That's how it was before the working-poor challenged the rich task-masters.
on June 6,2012 | 07:37AM
Changalang wrote:
Not in Hawaii, the only Union getting blasted are the teachers.
on June 6,2012 | 07:39AM
hawaiikone wrote:
Kainalu, unions have created the mess they're in now. You're totally correct when you predict the inevitable future ahead for the working man, yet the cycle must repeat itself. Unfortunately whoever has the upper hand at the time will repeat the same process that created the need for the other side all over again. Before the unions will become influential again the process you describe must occur.
on June 6,2012 | 09:00AM
lee1957 wrote:
Could we name a few private sector industries where union participation has led to economic nirvanha? Lets see, coal, steel, auto, airlines? Nope, nope, nope, nope.
on June 6,2012 | 05:08PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Did the coal, steel, auto, and airline unions vastly improve the working conditions and wages of their membership? Yep, yep, yep, yep. Their decline began when they continued to demand unsustainable increases.
on June 6,2012 | 05:42PM
Changalang wrote:
Congrats to Scott Walker. Important to note that out of state corporate donors outspent Unions by 7:1. Exit polls confirm that this was a validation of the Governor's work; not a repudiation of Obama. Obama is still up 9 points vs. Romney in Wisconsin, so those 10 Electoral votes are safely for Obama. Romney needs to pull 100 out of the 134 toss up votes to hit 270, and keep all 1700 of his leans and safe "R" votes. The new global recession is dropping gasoline prices, so it is good to keep things in perspective. What does not help Obama is Clinton campaigning for his wife in 2016 at the sitting President's expense.
on June 6,2012 | 07:38AM
suckseed wrote:
Republic 1, Socialism 0
on June 6,2012 | 03:51AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
on June 6,2012 | 01:04PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Oh say can u see, by the dawn's early election, what so proudly we held, our election in November 2012, the final scare shall he Republican 37, Socialism 13. Over the land of the free, and the home .... Of the ... Braaavee !!! Ty Ty Ty .
on June 6,2012 | 01:08PM
peanutgallery wrote:
Government employee unions have bankrupted our country. Their time is at an end. This was great news for conservatives, last night. Even with all the bused-in people and intimidation at the polls, the folks won. Score one for the good guys.
on June 6,2012 | 04:58AM
Ronin006 wrote:
People of Hawaii need to take notice at what happened in Wisconsin. Walker’s victory was a referendum against union bosses controlling and running the government and against out-of-control spending by Democrats, as is done in Hawaii. Hawaii needs to get its house in order, but I do not expect that to happen as long as most voters blindly vote Democrat without knowing the candidates for whom they are voting or their positions on issues that matter to Hawaii. Just keep the welfare checks coming and that is enough to vote Democrat.
on June 6,2012 | 06:01AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
i concur
on June 6,2012 | 07:34AM
Changalang wrote:
Reality is that the only thing dying via public policy is the Hawaii GOP. We will talk more the day after the General election.
on June 6,2012 | 07:41AM
lee1957 wrote:
How can it be dying when it's already dead?
on June 6,2012 | 05:10PM
Changalang wrote:
Zombies at best holed up in protected zones from re-districting. However, Lingle's big charge to rebuild the Party on her Senate charge should be self defining after the election. Am curious what will come out of the ashes vs. just another walking dead recycled politician running again. Zombies must be neutralized first for a true Phoenix moment to occur.
on June 6,2012 | 08:06PM
st1d wrote:
workers should be able to be employed without being forced to join a union.
on June 6,2012 | 06:44AM
tiki886 wrote:
More importantly, if individual members were given the choice of paying dues or not the union would fall apart. Union dues are actually a form of money laundering because the dues paid by the employer (State of Hawaii) never touches the members hands or is never in the possession of the member to exercise any ownership of those funds.
on June 6,2012 | 08:15AM
tiki886 wrote:
More importantly, if individual members were given a choice to pay or not to pay union dues, the union would collapse. The way union dues are handled is a form of money laundering because the money that the employer (State of Hawaii) pays, never comes into possession of the union member to exercise any control or "ownership" of the funds. It merely flows through the member's paystub as a notation but the real money is a direct transfer from the State to the union coffers.
on June 6,2012 | 08:25AM
Changalang wrote:
And then transferred back to the politicians via campaign donations. Aloha Spirit is pervasive. Lucky we live Hawaii. Live Aloha. :)
on June 6,2012 | 10:08AM
hawaiikone wrote:
Of course it should be anyone's choice to join a union, and presently, since wages are at a level created by the union, many would prefer to not join and enjoy those levels. Yet once unions become completely powerless, how long to you believe both private and public employers will maintain these levels? We collectively are going to find out.
on June 6,2012 | 09:03AM
soundofreason wrote:
LOVED this clip out of Yahoo news...(soiund familiar Ben?- You're on the right "track".During Walker’s initial race for governor two years ago, Wisconsin voters knew that he was a fiscal and social conservative enraged by government spending plans like building a high-speed rail connection between Milwaukee and Madison. So no one should have been surprised when, shortly after taking office last year, Walker ripped up the tracks on the high-speed rail plan, spurning $810 million in federal funds.
on June 6,2012 | 07:17AM
serious wrote:
Yes, and the other two Republican governors in FL and NJ also turned down the funds since they can't afford the upkeep!!!
on June 6,2012 | 09:29AM
soundofreason wrote:
And the feds HAVE NO funds to be "giving"/offering
on June 6,2012 | 07:01PM
Changalang wrote:
The market popped today because Helicopter Ben is going to print more. American taxpayers via the Fed are pumping funds into the IMF to rescue Spanish banks. American taxpayers now carry the Old World entitlement excess too. Ben Bernanke speaks tomorrow.
on June 6,2012 | 08:00PM
tiki886 wrote:
Furthermore, one might argue that State and Federal taxes which are withheld from a member's paycheck are like union dues in that they are never in the possession of the union member as well. Well then, that makes union dues a tax doesn't it? The union has been given taxing authority?
on June 6,2012 | 08:36AM
Changalang wrote:
De Facto.
on June 6,2012 | 10:09AM
HD36 wrote:
The government should not even have public unions to begin with.
on June 6,2012 | 10:22AM
serious wrote:
The public unions are the ones that elect our legislators. The silent majority, as in Wisconsin, just got sick with the situation and united to win. We have the worst enviornment for starting a business and the highest housing prices and the worst traffic, then add the Congressional delegation---been there for an eternity and done?????
on June 6,2012 | 11:03AM
gari wrote:
Can the article be about Walker (objective feedback ) What happened vs Romney (emotional non productive ) ?
on June 6,2012 | 11:24AM
Tipops wrote:
As bad as I think Mr. Romney would be for the country, I'm not convinced President Obama deserves another chance, based on what little he has done in his last four years as our country's leader. Some tough choices coming up this November for all of us. Mr. Obama has demonstrated that he is basically all show and no go. Can Mr. Romney make tough decisions that help all of us and not just the privileged elite? He has yet to prove this to me. It may boil down to which is the lesser evil than the best man. That's a shame.
on June 6,2012 | 03:52PM
tiki886 wrote:
To: Hawaiione: “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.” That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking. That was George Meany — the former President of the AFL-CIO — in 1955. Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd. The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. FDR considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.” Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that unions once recognized. George Meany was not alone. Up through the 1950s, unions widely agreed that collective bargaining had no place in government. But starting with Wisconsin in 1959, states began to allow collective bargaining in government. The influx of dues and members quickly changed the union movement’s tune, and collective bargaining in government is now widespread. As a result unions can now insist on laws that serve their interests – at the expense of the common good. Union contracts make it next to impossible to reward excellent teachers or fire failing ones. Union contracts give government employees gold-plated benefits – at the cost of higher taxes and less spending on other priorities. The alternative to Walkers’ budget was kicking 200,000 children off Medicaid. Gov. Walker’s plan reasserts voter control over government policy. Voters’ elected representatives should decide how the government spends their taxes. More states should heed the AFL-CIO Executive Council’s 1959 advice: 'in terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress—a right available to every citizen. Google, "FDR Warned us", 2/19/2011 heritage foundation / the foundry
on June 6,2012 | 06:59PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Glad to see you agree with me.
on June 6,2012 | 07:34PM
st1d wrote:
on June 7,2012 | 04:14PM
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