Tag Archives: Wisconsin Republicans

Wisconsin Democrats ‘destroyed’

Wisconsin Democrats were destroyed in the Nov. 8 elections. Here’s a closer look at some of the obvious, and not so obvious, winners and losers following the election:

WINNERS:

  • REPUBLICANS: There’s no doubt about it, Republicans did even better than they expected. Donald Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson both won, despite never leading in public polling. Mike Gallagher kept the 8th Congressional District in the GOP’s control and Republicans even picked up at least two seats in the state Legislature when it was Democrats who were expected to gain. GOP strategist Brandon Scholz called it a “seismic” victory, while University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden simply said Democrats were “destroyed.”
  • BETSY ANKNEY: The campaign manager for Johnson’s re-election effort, she steered him to victory in a race that even Republicans had written off as unwinnable. Ankney kept an upbeat, positive attitude even as Republicans pulled money from the race and Johnson struggled with questions about his support for Trump. Johnson said Nov. 9  it was when the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled money from his race that he “felt free.” His campaign had quirky ads, including one where Johnson dodges urine while changing a diaper. Ultimately, Johnson outperformed Trump to become the first Wisconsin Republican to win election to the Senate in a presidential year since 1980.
  • U.S. REP. SEAN DUFFY and PETE MEACHUM: Duffy, the former Real World reality TV star-turned congressman in northern Wisconsin, went all-in for Trump early. His chief of staff, Pete Meachum, took a leave of absence in June to run Trump’s campaign in Wisconsin. Trump shocked Republican and Democratic expectations with his narrow victory over Hillary Clinton, fueled by depressed turnout in Democratic areas and stronger response in more rural parts of the state like Duffy’s congressional district. Duffy is frequently mentioned as a possible challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018.
  • SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD: The Republican leader of the state Senate not only held two Republican seats that Democrats were hoping to win, he picked up at least one seat to increase the GOP majority to at least 20 seats. Republicans privately questioned some of Fitzgerald’s moves on what races he was targeting, but no one was second-guessing him on Wednesday with the largest GOP Senate majority since 1971.
  • GOP INFRASTRUCTURE: Republicans have long pointed with pride to their ground game and infrastructure that propelled Gov. Scott Walker to victory three times in four years between 2010 and 2014. That effort, which worked closely with Johnson and helped Trump as well, is widely seen as besting Wisconsin Democrats operation. There’s no arguing with the results.

LOSERS:

  • DEMOCRATS: Russ Feingold lost for the second time in six years to Johnson, despite being the heavy favorite this year. He passed up two chances to run against Walker for governor, both in the 2012 recall and the 2014 general election, so he could get his rematch with Johnson in a presidential year. The loss could mean the end of his long political career in the state. Hillary Clinton has never won in Wisconsin. She lost the 2008 presidential primary and she lost the primary again this year to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She decided against campaigning in the state during the general election, a decision that the campaign is likely regretting given her narrow loss to Trump. And Wisconsin  Democrats,  faced with losses up and down the ballot in a year when victories were expected, has more soul searching to do.
  • REP. PETER BARCA and SEN. JENNIFER SHILLING: Wisconsin Democrats in the state Legislature didn’t plan to flip either the Senate or Assembly in their favor, but they were expected to at least pick up some seats. Instead, Democrats lost a seat in the Assembly giving Republicans their largest majority since 1957 and Shilling was in danger of losing her race. She’s currently 52 votes ahead and likely headed toward a recount. Even if she wins, her leadership position may be in jeopardy after Republicans picked up a seat in the Senate, giving them at least a 20-13 majority.
  • POLLSTERS and PUNDITS: No public polling ever showed Trump or Johnson winning in Wisconsin. Even Johnson’s campaign said their internal numbers had the race tightening, but he was never ahead. Republicans cautioned, repeatedly, that Trump’s path to victory in Wisconsin was extremely narrow. The outcome left even the most seasoned political observers wondering how it happened. “I am not sure why or how Donald Trump won,” said Scholz, the former state party director. “I’ve been scratching my head the whole time going, ‘What did we miss? What didn’t we see? Where did it come from?’”

Walker eased lead rules after soliciting money from lead paint producer

A leading lead manufacturer was among a host of corporate leaders who donated to a conservative group that helped Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators fend off recall challenges.

The Guardian, a British newspaper, obtained 1,500 pages of leaked documents from a secret investigation into whether Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups. That investigation was halted in 2015 by the Wisconsin Supreme Court under a ruling by right-wing justices who received millions of dollars in donations from the same outside groups that were charged in the case.

The documents show Walker was interested in getting Harold Simmons, the billionaire owner of NL Industries, which was a major producer of lead that was used in paint before such practices were banned, to donate to the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth. That group, backed by the Koch brothers, worked in coordination with Walker’s campaign to fight a 2012 attempt to recall the governor. Simmons gave the group $750,000 in 2011 and 2012, at the height of recall efforts.

After Simmons’ donations, the Wisconsin Legislature’s finance committee tucked language into the 2013–15 state budget granting immunity to lead manufacturers from lead paint poisoning lawsuits. Staff members for three Republicans on that committee who were recalled in 2011 didn’t immediately respond to email messages inquiring about whether the immunity was in return for the Club for Growth donations.

Walker and the state’s majority Republican legislators also used the state budget to loosen the regulation of lead paint. In addition to the producers of lead paint, the real estate and construction industries strongly oppose any regulation on lead, despite its potential deadliness. Like NL Industries, construction and real-estate companies are major donors to Walker and Wisconsin Republicans.

On July 23, 2015, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued a press statement shedding light on the great length that Walker and the GOP went to protect manufacturers of lead paint. A last-minute budget amendment by GOP legislators changed the legal definition of lead paint “to increase the amount of lead that must be in liquid or dry paint before state regulations kick in,” according to WDC.

The amendment also prevented state administrative rules from being updated to reflect any future statutory definition of lead paint that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might enact to protect public health.

Lead paint is toxic. It can cause a range of health problems, especially in young children, when it’s absorbed into the body. It causes damage to the brain, kidneys, nerves and blood. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and even death.

Corrosion of lead pipes damages water supplies. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett recently urged everyone living in a home built before 1951 — about 700,000 city residences — to get a filter capable of removing the toxin from water.

The documents leaked by The Guardian also showed that Walker and his fundraisers solicited money for the Wisconsin Club for Growth from hedge-fund billionaire Stephen Cohen, who gave the club $1 million; Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, who gave $25,000; and hedge-fund manager and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Chairman Paul Singer, who gave $250,000.

Such donations are legal under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which said restrictions on corporations’ political spending were unconstitutional.

Prosecutors had alleged Walker and his fundraising team asked potential contributors to donate to Wisconsin Club for Growth and other groups so they could run ads supporting him in the recalls. But the right-wing majority on the state’s high court said Walker had done nothing illegal, because coordination between candidates and outside groups on so-called issue advertising — ads that don’t expressly call for a candidate’s election or defeat — is permissible.

The justices, however, did not say that campaigns and outside groups could coordinate fundraising activities. Prosecutors have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let them re-start the investigation, and justices will consider that request on Sept. 26.

Walker campaign spokesman Joe Fadness issued a statement Wednesday calling the investigation “baseless.”

Club For Growth attorney David Rivkin said in an email that prosecutors made up crimes that don’t exist and called their appeal “legally frivolous and just another publicity stunt intended to tarnish their targets’ reputations and salvage their own.”

Previously released documents show iron mining company Gogebic Taconite gave the club $700,000. Walker later signed a bill easing regulations to help clear the path for the company’s mine near Lake Superior. The company ultimately gave up plans for the mine, however.

Minority Democrats said during a news conference that the documents raise more questions about what other legislation Republicans may have passed in exchange for donations to outside groups.

‘It appears we have more payback than policy,” Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire said.

Spokeswomen for Republican Senate and Assembly leaders didn’t immediately respond to email messages.

 

Judge strikes down Wisconsin election laws that thwart Democratic voters

A federal judge has thrown out a number of Wisconsin election laws passed in recent years, ruling they’re unconstitutional and serve no purpose except to unfairly benefited Republicans by making it more difficult for Democrat-leaning groups to vote.

Unlike rulings against similar election laws enacted by Republicans in North Carolina and Texas, U.S. District Judge James Peterson’s ruling did not eliminate Wisconsin’s voter identification law. But he ordered the state to quickly issue valid voter credentials for anyone who seeks a free photo ID but lacks documents, such as birth certificates, that are required under the Republican law.

Peterson call the state’s current process for getting free IDs to people who lack such documents “a wretched failure,” because it left a number of overwhelmingly black and Hispanic citizens unable to obtain IDs, The Associated Press reported.

Peterson also struck down election laws limiting municipalities to one location for in-person absentee voting and limiting in-person early voting to weekdays. He said that denying the right to vote on weekends intentionally discriminates against blacks in Milwaukee.

Peterson also struck down: an increase in residency requirements from 10 to 28 days; a prohibition on using expired but otherwise qualifying student IDs to vote; and a prohibition on distributing absentee ballots by fax or email.

“Wisconsin has the authority to regulate its elections to preserve their integrity, and a voter ID requirement can be part of a well-conceived election system,” Peterson wrote. “But … parts of Wisconsin’s election regime fail to comply with the constitutional requirement that its elections remain fair and equally open to all qualified electors.”

Peterson’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by two liberal groups — One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund Inc. They argued that the election laws were unconstitutional and discriminate against the poor, racial minorities and younger voters — all of whom are more inclined to vote Democratic. They presented evidence at trial to show that Republicans passed the laws not in reaction to voter fraud, which is not a problem in the state but rather to suppress Democratic turnout.

Defense attorneys countered that the laws, all passed since Walker and Republicans took control of the Legislature in 2011, have not suppressed turnout and that the state works hard to ensure everyone who needs a free ID to vote gets one.

“We argued Gov. Walker made it harder for Democrats to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat, and the judge agreed,” said Scott Ross, director of One Wisconsin Now, an arm of One Wisconsin Institute.

Hillary for Wisconsin released a statement praising Peterson’s decision..

“Attempts to restrict the democratic rights of Americans were defeated,” said Jake Hajdu, state director. “Now, Wisconsin residents who are eligible to vote, will be able to participate in our democracy and cast their constitutionally protected ballot.

“Hillary Clinton believes we must do everything we can to make it easier — not harder — for Americans to vote. And we cannot take our democratic rights for granted. The stakes are too high in this election. It is a choice between building walls between us and tearing people down or an optimistic and unifying vision where everyone has a role to play in building our future.”

The changes ordered to the laws cannot be implemented in time for the Aug. 9 primary elections in the state. But Peterson ordered them to be in place by the November general election.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s  Republican leaders are not giving up their fight to make it harder for likely Democratic voters to cast ballots. The state Department of Justice, which defended the laws, told AP that the agency plans to appeal to the 7th District Court of Appeals.

[UPDATED: Adds response to the decision from Hillary for Wisconsin.]

Researchers fear that mosquitoes in the U.S. have begun spreading the Zika virus

Florida health officials are investigating four mysterious cases of Zika infection that do not appear to be related to travel.

The four cases were detected in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Investigating whether Zika is being carried by mosquitoes locally, scientists plan to survey houses and people within a 150-yard radius of the cases, which is the flying radius of the insect.

U.S. experts also were baffled last week by a Zika case in Utah in which a care-giver caught Zika after tending to a dying elderly man with the virus.

The cases have raised the possibility that mosquitoes in the U.S. have begun to spread the virus.

Congress left for a seven-week vacation without giving the Obama administration any of the $1.9 billion it’s seeking to battle the Zika virus. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin making awards totaling nearly $60 million to states, cities, and territories to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus disease and adverse health outcomes that can result from Zika infection, including the serious birth defect microcephaly, according to a statement issued by the agency,

“Local, state and territorial health departments are on the front lines in the fight against Zika,” said CDC director Tom Frieden in a prepared statement.“These CDC funds will strengthen state and territorial capacity to respond to Zika virus, an increasingly concerning public health threat for pregnant women and babies. We hope Congress will provide the additional resources we need to fully support the Zika response.”

Due to congressional inaction, the CDC has to borrow the money to combat Zika from funds intended for flu, hurricane relief and other emergencies. The CDC has warned that it may have to delay testing for a vaccine if Congress continues to deny adequate funding to fight the disease.

The CDC has awarded $812,000 to Wisconsin to fight the Zika virus. Wisconsin Republicans, led by Gov. Scott Walker, apparently will allow the state to take the money, even though they’ve steadfastly refused to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid for poor families in the state. They oppose federal programs on philosophical grounds, saying such efforts represent “big government.”

Democrats have said that Walker’s refusal of federal Medicaid expansion has forced state taxpayers more to cover fewer people in the BadgerCare Plus health plan. If Walker had accepted the money, 87,000 more adults a month would have been served under the state’s health plan.

Walker’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, combined with his massive tax breaks to the very wealthy, has contributed to a $2.2 billion budget deficit.

According to estimates by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state could have saved more than $500 million over three and a half years by accepting federal Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin will lose about $1.8 billion in 2022 for rejecting the federal funds.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin taxpayers are still pouring money into the federal program, but it’s going to other states.

How Zika can spread

  • Bites from mosquitoes that carry the virus
  • Maternal transmission from mother to baby in the womb
  • Unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse – although rare, the virus can persist in semen
  • Zika virus has been found in other bodily fluids, including saliva and urine, but it is unknown whether it can spread through these routes
  • Blood transfusion — very likely but not confirmed

Wisconsin DOJ shrinks environmental protection unit

The state Justice Department has shrunk staffing levels in its environmental protection unit to the lowest level in 25 years.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the unit had six attorneys last year compared to 10 as recently as 2008. A DOJ spokesman says he couldn’t explain the trend, although he mentioned that lawyers with the agency’s special litigation unit and solicitor general’s office work so closely with other attorneys that it’s hard to determine how much responsibility they’ve assumed for environmental protection.

Carl Sinderbrand, a lawyer who once worked in the environmental unit, says the staffing reduction may reflect the dwindling number of pollution cases the Department of Natural Resources has referred for legal action. Last year fines against polluters dropped to their lowest point since at least 1994.

The reason: Along with reductions in prosecutions for environmental violations handled by the DOJ, there are fewer DNR inspections being carried out due to agency staffing and budget cuts and a lack of follow-up by the DNR on violations that it does discover.

Under Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s Republican leadership, the environment has been under constant attack, according to environmental groups. The moneyed interests, as represented by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, fossil fuel companies and the real-estate industry, have gradually gained the upper hand since Wisconsin came under one-party rule in 2011.

Republicans have severely curtailed the DNR’s authority. They passed a law that mandates business and industrial interests must be given precedence over environmental concerns when it comes to maintaining the state’s clean water supply. They fired all DNR scientists whose work touched on climate change.

According to data compiled by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, very few polluters pay penalties today even when they’re caught. Instead, they’re getting off scot-free.

Republicans have permitted the nation’s largest tar sands pipeline, run by the world’s most accident-prone oil and gas pipeline operator, to flow under every major waterway in the state.

Just days ago, a new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources draft report concluded that sand mining operations don’t produce fine dust particles and shouldn’t impact human health, a finding that’s all wrong, according to an environmental advocacy group.

For comprehensive coverage of Wisconsin’s environment, visit www.wisconsingazette.com.

Wis. Republicans hand over local control to corporate America

There’s a theory in politics — subsidiarity — that maintains higher levels of government should handle only tasks that cannot be accomplished at lower levels. National defense is a good example of how that theory works; it’s not left to each state or city to defend itself.

In that spirit, the Republican Party’s stated goal is to reduce the power and scope of the federal government. State government, their argument goes, is more democratic and accountable than Washington. State officials have a deeper understanding of the unique challenges, values and goals of their constituents. And in turn, local office-holders have a deeper understanding of their own constituents than does the state.

It’s not an unreasonable position, until you start to distort it beyond recognition. And that’s exactly what Wisconsin Republicans have done.

First, to show their disdain for the feds, Wisconsin Republicans made a great show of turning down federal funds after capturing control of state government in 2011. Showily flexing his ideological bicep, Gov. Scott Walker turned down about $2 billion for Medicare expansion, high-speed rail development, and high-speed internet expansion in the state. It didn’t seem to bother him or his GOP colleagues that a portion of that money would originally came from Wisconsin taxpayers. Nor did it seem to concern them that the move cost the state thousands of jobs, as well as expanded health care and an improved business environment. Wisconsin now has the second-highest insurance rates in the nation.

In short, your representatives at the state level cut off your nose to spite Washington’s face — all in the name of local empowerment.

Yet, in a glaring philosophical disconnect, Wisconsin’s Republican leaders also believe — in the strongest way possible — that the virtues of local control come to a screeching halt at the doors of the state Capitol. Ever since they’ve commanded the state, Republicans have engaged in an unprecedented usurpation of municipal, village and other local government bodies’ powers in order to stop them from interfering with the moneyed interests that feather their nests.

A memo issued earlier this year by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau detailed more than 100 ways in which the Republican Legislature and the governor have eliminated local control while also increasing the number of unfunded mandates — i.e., costs — passed on to local communities. The Republicans’ actions have made it impossible for many local elected officials to balance their budgets while providing services for their constituents. That’s one of the reasons your potholes don’t get filled.

Just a few weeks ago, in his latest assault at local control, Walker signed a law taking away the power of local jurisdictions to protect their water. The Republican-backed law forbids municipalities from stopping property owners who want to develop land or transfer properties to erect projects that could harm local water supplies. According to the new law, in legal cases where property owners are at odds with local ordinances protecting natural resources, presiding judges must rule in favor of the property owners over the good of nearly everyone else.

That law was part of what the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters calls a “developers’ grab bag,” which along with a comparable “polluters’ grab bag,” has given polluting industries and land developers free rein over the state’s natural resources by granting them authority over local governments.

Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has done his part to support this campaign, which makes corporations not just people but Super People. In mid-May, he ruled that environmental officials at the Department of Natural Resources cannot make decisions about high-capacity wells in order to prevent damage to local water supplies — not if Big Ag disagrees with those decisions. Schimel’s ruling puts the state’s groundwater, lakes and streams in jeopardy.

It’s not only environmental authority that the state’s GOP leaders have usurped. In the past legislative session, Republican changes included disrupting Wisconsin’s popular and cost-effective system of delivering services to seniors and those with disabilities. The party opted instead to turn those services over to for-profit companies. Republicans are also interfering with local school board elections.

By electing a solid Republican majority, voters in the state have empowered their own disempowerment while making very rich strangers even richer.

How’s that for subsidiarity?

Wisconsin Republicans balk at backing Trump

Wisconsin Republicans aren’t showing signs of moving toward presidential candidate Donald Trump, even after Marco Rubio dropped out of the race and neither of the two remaining candidates have a path to securing the nomination before the GOP convention this summer.

As the focus of the race starts to shift to Wisconsin and its April 5 primary, those Wisconsin Republican leaders who previously backed Rubio are assessing their next move. Rubio ended his campaign on after losing his home state of Florida.

Reflecting the divide nationally in the Republican Party, some Wisconsin Republicans are backing anyone but Trump, others will get behind the eventual nominee and some may be holding out hope for another candidate to emerge at the GOP convention in July.

“#NeverTrump Nothing else matters,” state Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke tweeted after the last round of primaries. “America loses tonight. No real winners.”

Steineke said in an interview that he would back either Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, but he’s not going to endorse either at this point.

“My guy was Marco Rubio,” Steineke said. “He was the guy I believed in the most.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who also had backed Rubio, issued a statement saying he had no plans to endorse another Republican candidate “at this time.”

Both Gov. Scott Walker and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson are among the top Wisconsin Republicans who said they will back whoever is the nominee. Walker ended his presidential run in September by calling for others to drop out so it would be easier to take on Trump, but he’s refused to endorse anyone even as the Wisconsin primary looms.

“He has repeatedly said that he is praying for a nominee of integrity, intelligence, ideas, and courage who can lead our nation — not divide it,” said Brian Reisinger, a spokesman for Johnson, who hedged last month on whether he would support Trump but has gone back to saying he’ll support the GOP nominee, including Trump.

House Speaker Paul Ryan caused a stir when he didn’t close the door entirely to the possibility of accepting the nomination at a contested convention — a scenario later endorsed by former House Speaker John Boehner.

“The speaker is grateful for the support, but he is not interested,” the Janesville Republican’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said. “He will not accept a nomination and believes our nominee should be someone who ran this year.”

Even though Trump leads — and gained more ground with at least four victories this week — the race will still be unsettled by the time Wisconsin votes. There are 42 delegates at stake in Wisconsin, with the statewide winner securing 18 and three available to the winner of each congressional district.

Based on an Associated Press delegate count, Trump is the only candidate with a path to clinching the Republican nomination before the national convention. Trump’s rivals can only hope to stop him, forcing a contested convention with an uncertain outcome.

Cruz has the backing of several of the most conservative Wisconsin state lawmakers, while Kasich has tapped Republicans who were at the height of their power in the 1990s to help him. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who served as governor from 1987 to 2001, is the Kasich campaign’s state co-chair. Two former congressmen who served in the 1990s, Scott Klug of Madison and Mark Neumann of Nashota, are also on board.

 

2015: The year Wisconsin lost itself

In 2015, Wisconsin completed a 180-degree turn away from the state’s lauded history as a model of good government. The year saw the fruition of a process set into motion in 2011, when conservative Republicans gerrymandered the state so they couldn’t lose. They stopped even pretending that we live in a democracy in which opposing viewpoints have the right to be heard. Instead they proved the axiom that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Their changes to the fundamental character of Wisconsin have occurred so fast and furiously the media and progressive groups haven’t been able to keep up with them. Stories that would have grabbed headlines in prior years were buried in the avalanche of game-changing laws tumbling out of the Capitol.

For every legislative travesty that’s been publicized in time to stop it through public outcry — such as the measure to abolish the state’s open records law, which was slipped quietly into the budget on a Friday afternoon — there have been dozens of other reckless laws enacted. Wisconsin citizens are likely to discover many transgressive laws on the books in the coming year that no one except Scott Walker, the Legislature’s Republican leadership and a few of their corporate backers are even aware of.

There’s not enough room in this editorial to enumerate all of the new measures that go against the grain of Wisconsin’s history. But we can say with certainty that few of them have spurred our economy, which is what our current leaders vowed to do when they were voted into office.

Walker did not create anywhere near the 250,000 jobs he promised. The state has hovered near the bottom of job producers for most of his time in office. Wisconsin has the fastest shrinking middle class is the nation; median household income here has fallen at the nation’s highest rate since Walker took office.

Walker has doled out $279 million of taxpayer money in the form of tax credits — many more millions than are allowable under the law — to businesses that failed to create jobs, partly because they weren’t even required to do so in exchange for their corporate welfare. Some of that money has disappeared into thin air, leaving no trace of where it went. This is money that, along with Walker‘s tax cuts to the wealthy, was supposed to create jobs. Instead it left Wisconsin with a budget shortfall and without any way to restore Walker’s draconian cuts to education, the worst in the nation. It left the state with no way to repair its crumbling infrastructure or maintain its natural splendor. It left no money to accomplish the myriad of things required for the state to really grow its economy and maintain its quality of life.

In truth, Walker and the Republicans have paid scant attention to the economy. The majority of their efforts have gone toward appeasing corporate and right-wing special interests in order to keep themselves in power. And they’ve abused that power by getting rid of a panoply of laws passed to ferret out and prosecute political corruption. It’s impossible to believe politicians who prioritize eliminating government watchdog groups and related prosecutorial officers have their sights set on good deeds.

Instead of jobs, Walker and his GOP colleagues have focused on issues such as expanding gun ownership, fighting same-sex marriage and women’s reproductive freedom, eliminating environmental protections, telling people getting food stamps what they can buy, packing state government with inexperienced cronies, repealing laws involving fair wages, such as the equal pay law for women … the list feels endless and hopeless.

Scott Walker promised last year during his re-election campaign that he would not seek the presidency in 2016. But he was the first to throw his hat in the ring. He went on to neglect his responsibilities here and the lunacy of his public behavior and remarks made a laughingstock of Wisconsin.

He seemed to return to his lesser job angry and dejected — more determined than ever to reshape the state according to his impenetrable and conflicted ideals.

How well he’s succeeded.

The only hope for the future is that Democratic and Republican voters alike get out next year and vote for candidates they can trust to focus on the issues that are important to our collective future — and not to candidates who are intent only on furthering their personal interests and those of their patrons.