There have been numerous media references questioning the purpose of the recount in the Supreme Court (WI) race between JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent David Prosser. I have to admit similar confusion. Everyone seems to agree that there is no chance of shifting the election results back to Kloppenburg.
However, I have a principle that says, in politics, if something doesn't make sense, you aren't looking at it from the right perspective. In other words, everything makes sense to someone.There is a second principle I subscribe to that states that nothing in the realm of politics is as it seems. Applying these principles and taking as wide a perspective as possible, a sensible scenario began to take shape. I now believe it is the only credible explanation of the thinking behind this seeming exercise in futility.
Kloppenburg's people have alluded to the possibility of a court challenge to the validity of the election. This seems to also have the chances of the proverbial snowball in that hot place. Well, maybe not. Recall that a Madison judge, Maryann Sumi, has already ruled against the acceptance of Gov. Walker's budget repair bill based on open meetings requirements. Her final judgement may go either way, but seems to be leaning in favor of the plaintiffs. Thus, the bill, which eliminates most public service union collective bargaining rights and which is considered a dire threat by organized labor, my very well be invalidated.
The Waukesha County recount has been greatly delayed, mainly due to questions raised by the very expensive team of lawyers in the Kloppenburg camp. In fact, a very large sum has been spent, most likely from union dues, in support of this recount, and continues to be expended. The idea that this is all being done in a clearly futile effort to reverse the election results is simply not credible.
So, what is really going on here. I have considered the options and have concluded that only one scenario makes any sense. The major issue here is not the election of JoAnn Kloppengurg to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That is clearly a done deal for the incumbent, David Prosser. The real issue is the collective bargaining issue in Scott Walker's so-called budget repair bill. This legislation, while passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, is under a legal cloud due to an action in the Dane County court of Judge Maryann Sumi. The Walker folks and the Republican legislators have clearly ticked her off by defying her original injunction against implementation of the bill, an unwise tactic.
Walker's bill clearly diminishes the power of the public service unions who are presently the only shining star in the union firmament. If Walker succeeds in pulling their teeth, other states are poised to follow Wisconsin's lead, potentially creating a domino effect across the nation. Since these unions are stalwart Democrat supporters, there is clearly much at stake for many players. I believe this is the real issue in the Kloppenburg election affair.
The original concept was to bounce Prosser and replace him with a Dane County liberal, thus shifting the present 4-3 conservative tilt on the Supreme Court to liberal. The budget repair bill issue will likely end up before the Supreme Court, especially subsequent to a decision unfriendly to the Walker camp by Judge Sumi. The hope was that the now-liberal Supreme Court would support the lower court's decision.
When the election results tilted markedly to Prosser's side by a clearly unsurmountable margin, the plan changed from the defeat of Prosser to neutralization of the Supreme Court. Here's how. The unions and the Democrats who need them would demand a recount. Kloppenburg was simply the means of implementation. (I suspect JoAnne was promised future support of some sort.) The tactic was to create a delay by demanding a futile recount, dragging it out as long as possible and establishing the basis for a further delaying court challenge of the inevitable result.
By delaying the official certification of the re-election of David Prosser to after August 1st, the end of Prosser's term, the court would be short one conservative justice, creating the potential of a 3-3 deadlock on the budget repair bill issue, which would then affirm the lower court's decision and presumably invalidate the passage of the bill.
The second element in the plan is the recall efforts against Republican senators. If enough of them succeed, and it would take only three, the Senate would switch to Democrat control, effectively blocking re-passage of the budget repair bill and preserving the status quo. Thus, Governor Walker's attempt to weaken the power of the public service unions would fail and other states presumably would be discouraged from trying the same thing.
The only fly in their ointment is the fact that at present only six Republican recall petitions have been certified along with three Democrat. If this holds, then the Democrat-union coalition would need to win half of the Republican recall elections and all the Democrat recalls, or the equivalent, to flip the Senate, which is not impossible but a bit unlikely. Therefore, it is possible that they will not pursue the court challenge to the election recount as being too much of a long shot.
One can only hope.
NOTE: The last paragraph (not the one-liner) was significantly edited to correct an error on my part. Sorry for any confusion.