Opinion: Recalls bring out worst in GOP

Cory Liebmann

Since Republicans took over state government they have gone about trying to permanently rig the state’s entire electoral system in their favor. Apparently they are intent on misusing every tool at their disposal to ensure their continuing monopoly on political power in Wisconsin. 

After forcing a radical agenda on the state, they clearly seem insecure about their future electoral prospects. Otherwise why would they try so blatantly to stack the electoral deck? They have established one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country – a law that disproportionately affects traditional Democratic voters, including the elderly, students, minorities and the poor.

They tried to wrestle rule-making authority away from the non-partisan Government Accountability Board. They tried to radically redistrict the state behind closed doors. They’re trying to split Wisconsin’s electoral votes in presidential elections.

As if this long list of tampering wasn’t enough, now right-wing Christian Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, is trying to rush through even more disgraceful legislation. 

The recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker is set to begin on Nov. 15, so perhaps we should have expected something like the newly proposed Lazich bills. One is a fairly transparent attempt to make Walker’s recall all but impossible. In it, Lazich proposes that every recall petition must be formally notarized, which would at least slow down the recall effort.

The new law also would open an entirely new set of arguments that Republicans could use when they inevitably file lawsuits challenging the coming recall against Walker. Ironically, Walker himself opposed one of the changes that Lazich has proposed to the law when he served as a state representative in 1999.

A new batch of Republican state senators also will likely face recalls next year, and Lazich is trying to fast-track yet another bill to help stifle that process. The gerrymandering and backroom redistricting that Republicans engaged in earlier this year was set to go into place starting with the November 2012 election. The redistricting was designed to
make it easier for Republicans to win.

But now, facing more recall challenges, Republicans have decided they want to make the new Republican-friendly districts effective immediately. But they only want the effective date moved up for the state Senate, not the Assembly. Only extreme desperation or shocking arrogance can explain such a transparently brazen effort.

The legality of such an effort has already been called into question. GOP state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, recently announced that he would not vote for the legislation, which could prevent it from moving forward. 

Regardless of the end result of these latest Republican abuses, it is the attempt that tells us everything that we need to know about today’s Wisconsin GOP. The only thing that matters to them is winning, and they will do everything they can to keep the public from holding them fully accountable for their radical agenda at the ballot box. 

One thing that has certainly been proven this year is that the threat of being held accountable through recall has truly brought out the absolute worst in Wisconsin Republicans.