Dane County is the political base of Wisconsin’s public sector unions. It is home to both the state capital, with its thousands of unionized workers, and the University of Wisconsin, with its starry-eyed college students and aging hippie professors. It is easily the most left-wing county in the state–think San Francisco in the heartland. It is exactly the place where Big Labor and its champion, Kathleen Falk, who served as County Executive for 14 years, should have had their best showing in the primary. Instead, she was absolutely trounced.
Falk lost her home county by 31 points–62-31. In contrast, she lost the state by “only” 20 points. Public sector unions spent millions of dollars from their members’ paychecks to support her campaign. They accused her opponent, Tom Barrett, of supporting Walker’s budget reforms. They, along with Falk, mobilized dozens of left-wing activist organizations, most of whom are headquartered in the county. The unions members make up a sizable percentage of the county’s electorate. And, the unions’ members soundly rejected their preferred candidate.
Since the passage of Walker’s budget reforms, public sector unions and their shills in the media have repeated the claim that voters would reject Walker’s “divisive” policies. We have heard ad naseum that voters would stand in “solidarity” with the unions against the reforms. But, hell, even the union members won’t stand in solidarity with the unions.
Change is blowing across the country. Voters understand that the status quo will no longer meet the challenges we face. That some measurable percentage of union members rejected their own union’s candidate tells you that the unions are a paper tiger. That Scott Walker, in a largely uncontested primary, can attract almost as many votes as 5 Democrats combined tells you that voters see at least some benefit to his reforms. It also tells us that a reform wave is building strength.
The national GOP should take this lesson to heart: Courage wins.