The Midterms and the US Political Crisis: Battleground Wisconsin

Marsha Rummel

January 9, 2023

Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes narrowly lost to Ron Johnson, the rightwing Republican incumbent. Other Democrats did better, including two DSA members, Ryan Clancy and Darrin Madison Jr, elected to the State Assembly.

The political crisis in Wisconsin has been ongoing for some time. It’s been a grim decade for a state once associated with the labor and social movement activism around the formation of AFSCME, the first gay rights law, and the birth of Earth Day. Republicans have controlled the state Assembly and Senate since 2011. Wisconsin is one of the most racially segregated states in the country. During the Walker era, Wisconsin became one of the premier right-wing laboratories for undermining the public sector. It is one of the most gerrymandered states in the US.

The future remains bleak but Total Disaster for the Democrats was averted in November with Republicans defeated in several key races. On the other hand, Democratic candidate for Senate Mandela Barnes lost to right-wing incumbent Ron Johnson in a very close race that reveals the ongoing weakness of a conservative Democratic Party establishment.

Democratic Party Victories

As in other races across the country that pitted Democrats against a hand-picked Trump loyalist, Tony Evers (D) was re-elected Governor, beating Tim Michels (R) by 3 points or 90,702 votes (51.2% vs 47.8%). Michels, a millionaire construction business owner with homes in NY and CT, Trump’s man, defeated the former Lt Gov Rebecca Kleefisch, the Republican establishment’s candidate, in the primary. Kleefisch, a conservative, served with Gov Scott Walker during the assault on Wisconsin workers.

State Republicans did not win a veto proof majority, so Governor Evers can still veto draconian legislation. The GOP would have needed to win two-thirds majorities in each chamber to gain the power to override the governor's vetoes. While they did flip one Senate seat, getting the 22 seats necessary in that chamber, they fell short in the Assembly. Since January of 2021, Evers has vetoed 126 bills that passed the Republican-led legislature, thwarting the party's efforts to change election laws, gun laws, and more.

Josh Kaul (D) Attorney General was reelected by 1.5% or 34,145 votes. Kaul's reelection means the lawsuit that he and Governor Evers filed in June to overturn Wisconsin’s 1849 ban on abortion will proceed-- Kaul ran on defending abortion rights. Currently conservatives have a 4-3 majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. If the suit comes before them, they may rule to maintain the ban. However, a conservative judge is retiring and two liberals will be on the spring ballot. Although generally spring elections have low turnout, liberals may be motivated to get out to vote in order to flip the court.

In another proxy referendum on Trump and election deniers, incumbent Secretary of State Doug LaFollette (D) squeaked by Republican Amy Loudenbeck to win reelection. LaFollette was first elected to his post in 1974 and has held the job since 1983. Final results showed La Follette defeated Loudenbeck by 7,442 votes, or about 0.29 percentage points…

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January 21, 2023

Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal

in the Wake of New/Hidden Evidence!

We, Second-Wave Feminists Still in the Fight, demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal be freed! Mumia is a Black journalist and political activist who was framed up in 1982 for the murder of a police officer, Daniel Faulkner, in Philadelphia. Some of us (Second-Wave Feminists) are older than Mumia, and some are younger, but we have all lived through and witnessed the many tragic decades Mumia has suffered unjustly...

Bill Balderston
January 19, 2023

On Friday, December 23, the results of voting by two UAW locals at University of California (UC) still on strike were tallied. The results were fairly decisive, with members of UAW 2865 (representing teaching assistants, tutors, graders and readers) voting 11,386 to 7,097 for acceptance of the tentative agreement (TA), and SRU-UAW members (student researchers) agreeing by a larger percentage, 10,057 to 4,640.

Thus ended the six-week unfair labor practice strike, the largest academic strike in U.S....

Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) Mission Statement
January 13, 2023

THE UKRAINE SOLIDARITY NETWORK (U.S.) reaches out to unions, communities and individuals from diverse backgrounds to build moral, political and material support for the people of Ukraine in their resistance to Russia’s criminal invasion and their struggle for an independent, egalitarian and democratic country.

The war against Ukraine is a horrible and destructive disaster in the human suffering and economic devastation it has already caused, not only for Ukraine and its people but also in its impact...

Dianne Feeley
January 11, 2023

Having ballot initiatives is, in my opinion, the most democratic aspect of U.S. politics. Every registered voter has the right to vote on an issue — not just vote to elect a representative. This is particularly meaningful when citizens initiate the proposal and circulate petitions to place it on the ballot.

These methods of passing laws or amending state constitutions are a gain from the Progressive era. But only 17 states have adopted citizen-led initiatives. Although many more are initiated...

Howie Hawkins
January 5, 2023

Ranked Choice Voting won 8 out of 10 ballot measures on November 8.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an alternative to the plurality winner voting system prevalent in the United States. It provides more representative outcomes, increases voter participation, discourages negative campaigning, eliminates the vote-splitting spoiler problem that encourages lesser-evil voting, and lowers the entry barriers for the election of women, people of color, and minor party and independent candidates.

RCV for single-seat...

Don Fitz
December 29, 2022

Recent data shows that between 2019 and 2021, life expectancy (LE) in the US plunged almost three years while for  Cuba  it edged up 0.2 years. Yet, in 1960, the year after its revolution, Cuba had a LE of 64.2 years, lower by 5.6 years than that in the US (69.8 years). As I document in  Cuban Health Care , the island quickly caught up to the US and, from 1970 through 2016, the two countries were nip and tuck, with some years Cuba and...

Kim Moody
December 24, 2022

This article will appear in the forthcoming issue 223 of Against the Current. Kim Moody presented an overview of U.S. politics in the wake of the midterm elections at the December 11 Zoom meeting of Solidarity members and friends.

It’s gridlock. Specifically, it’s still a right-versus-center impasse, but with a shift to the right. Trump/MAGA forces dominated the Republican primaries but stumbled in the general election. The “Red Wave” became a ripple — though a significant...

M.V. Ramana
December 17, 2022

On December 13, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had reached a “milestone”: the achievement of “ignition” in nuclear fusion earlier in the month. That announcement was hailed by many as a step into a fossil fuel-free energy future. US Senate majority leader Charles Schumer, for example, claimed that we were “on the precipice of a future no longer reliant on fossil fuels but instead...

Malik Miah
December 15, 2022

This analysis was prepared by Malik Miah for a December 11 Solidarity members’ and friends’ discussion of the midterm elections and U.S. politics.

There are three key lessons of African Americans and their votes in the recent midterm elections, including the two votes in November and December in Georgia’s Senate race between two Black men — a first in the Deep South.

First lesson: Black people are some of the most sophisticated voters in the country. They don’t primarily...

Promise Li
December 2, 2022

The current protests in China signal one of the largest mass mobilizations in the country since the Tiananmen movement of 1989. The immediate trigger is a fire on the night of November 24 that killed at least 10 people, who were mostly Uyghurs, and injured many others in a residential building in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The tragedy occurred because firefighters could not reach the building in time as residents were trapped. This is a consequence of Xinjiang’s lockdown...

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