A Wisconsin state senator who benefited from a groundswell of grassroots conservatives who came to his aide to beat a recall effort has now angered that very base of voters by going all in with his support of the state’s Common Core education scheme.
State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) was one of those state senators whom union supporters tried to have recalled in 2011. Olsen was happy to receive support from newly activated grassroots conservatives who had never involved themselves in politics before, and the Senator went on to win re-election to his seat.
But now those very activists are wondering if they made a mistake helping Olsen beat his recall, since the Senator began going all in to push the left’s disastrous Common Core education scheme on the Badger State.
Several Republican caucuses in the state have passed resolutions of no support on Olsen, who is the state Senate Education Committee chairman, because of his efforts to thwart Republicans who have been working to dump the disliked education standards.
Olsen has gone out of his way to block the growing movement to stop Common Core. One of his backhanded actions was to leak a draft version of an education bill to Common Core supporters so that they could mount a political campaign in favor of their policy.
In another case, Olsen leaked to the press his contention that five Senators would not vote in favor of a bill to undercut Common Core standards – a move that sent Republican opponents of the education standards reeling and effectively killed their efforts to defeat the policy at that time.
The senator has also been working hand-in-hand with the Common Core supporters, updating them on his actions and coordinating on strategy, helping make sure their goals are met.
Olsen was utterly defiant when the Wisconsin Reporter asked him what his intentions were for Common Core.
“Bring it on,” Olsen said. “I went through Act 10 (the recall effort). If I’m the guy who is standing between getting rid of the Common Core and keeping it, I can go to sleep fine saying, ‘Yeah, I think it’s the right thing, and that’s not a problem.”
In another interview, Olsen blew off the anger of his one-time supporters saying, “They’re just upset with people who don’t agree with them on everything.”
Other Wisconsin Republicans are not so dismissive of Olsen’s actions. Many of his colleagues in the Republican Party are also working to undermine Common Core, and it is causing discord.
There is concern that this kerfuffle could come back to hurt Republican Governor Scott Walker’s ongoing re-election campaign as well, especially since Olsen is going around claiming that it is Walker who spurred him to launch his one-man pro-Common Core crusade.
Richard Church, chair of the Adams County GOP, said it was “disappointing” that Olsen would blame Walker, because the Governor has spoken out against Common Core and has said that his state “can do better” than Common Core.
Walker is a detractor of the national standards and supports his state making its own policies. “I think Wisconsin standards should be higher than where the discussion is nationally, and I think they should be set by people in Wisconsin and not people outside the state, and I think this offers a mechanism to do that,” Walker said in February.
These public statements belie Olsen’s claim that Walker caused him to push Common Core.
Church, who filed one of the resolutions withdrawing support from Senator Olsen, says that the Senator’s blaming of Walker was the last straw for him.
Church isn’t alone. One of Olsen’s top grassroots supporters, Dan Krueger, has also had it with the Senator despite having been a big part of the effort to defend Olsen during the 2011 recall election.
“It is kind of ironic. It is irritating,” Krueger told Wisconsin Reporter. “We’re just trying to figure out how can we get rid of him or how can we neutralize him.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com