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Issue of the Week: What Should Republican Strategists Do?

Plus Hero of the Week

Mar. 23, 2011
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After the Republican majority in the state Legislature rammed through their "budget repair" bill, using dubious procedural maneuvers to essentially gut public unions, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed a complaint seeking to block the bill's implementation. The case was assigned to Judge Maryann Sumi, who was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. Due to a potential violation of the state's open-meetings rules, Judge Sumi issued a temporary restraining order that prevented Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, which is the final act in the creation of a new law.

This court response to the controversial legislation poses a dilemma for Republican political operatives. They want to have this law go into effect as quickly as possible, not only to gut collective bargaining rights, but also—in light of the massive recall movements—to put this highly unpopular action by the governor behind them.

But due to its controversial nature, almost any legal complaint surrounding this law will invariably be resolved at the level of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This creates a dilemma for Republican operatives because it puts a spotlight on Justice David Prosser, who is up for re-election to the court on April 5.

Prosser, a former Republican legislator who stated in his Supreme Court campaign materials that he was running for re-election to complement the administration of Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature, does not want to have to rule on this issue before the April 5 election. A justice cannot be honest and unbiased and administer justice in the courtroom to the parties before him if he has already signaled that he will be a Republican rubber stamp. Prosser is now frightened to death that his strong Republican bias will be put under a spotlight and that it will hurt his chances for re-election. Therefore, Prosser would like to see the entire issue disappear, or at least slow down, so he does not have to opine on the issue before the election.

So what do Republican political operatives do? Do they push ahead to get the law enacted or do they slow the process down to help their rubber stamp on the court in his bid for re-election?

Heroes of the Week

Silver Spring Neighborhood Center Volunteers

Located in Westlawn, the state's largest low-income public housing development, the nonprofit Silver Spring Neighborhood Center (SSNC) was founded in 1958 to help build a safer, stronger community. The SSNC serves thousands of individuals a year, from infants to senior citizens, through a slew of programs designed to improve social and economic conditions for residents.

The center offers educational services for both teens and young children, including tutors, a computer lab, a summer camp and opportunities to work with the revolutionary urban agricultural group Growing Power. SSNC also sponsors award-winning youth basketball and track teams.

The SSNC's adult services include family, educational and vocational training, such as the highly successful "Transitional Jobs Program," which teaches participants work skills and helps place them in full-time jobs. All of the programs are made possible by hundreds of volunteers, including those who tutor, mentor and serve meals. Readers who wish to donate their time are directed to www.ssnc-milw.org, or 414-463-7950.

Interested in the Recall?

There are potentially 16 recall elections in the state Senate that could occur over the next several months. Some of these recall elections will be very competitive and could change the composition of the Wisconsin Senate. If you are interested in staying abreast of the recall election activities, please sign up for the Recall E-mail at recallupdate@shepex.com.


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