Tom Barrett gets slapped

By a disappointed supporter; Dems win Wis. Senate; California strikes at unions; and other top Wednesday stories

Topics: Wisconsin Recall,

With 99 percent of precincts reporting: Republican Gov. Scott Walker 53.2 percent, Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett 46.3 percent.

It was a crushing blow for Democrats and labor activists, and when Barrett came out at his election night party to announce he was conceding, he was met with gasps, boos and aggressive shouts. One supporter even slapped the mayor for giving up before all the votes had been counted. Seriously.

Dems win Senate — barely: It’s a small consolation prize, but Democrats appear to have taken control of the Wisconsin state Senate with a win over an incumbent Republican in the 21st District. Still, there is some disappointment as Dems were expected to win and even thought they had a good chance of picking up more than one seat.

A win for the plutocrats: The recall election pitted the money of big out-of-state donors on Walker’s side against the grass-roots boots on the ground of unions on Barrett’s side and money won. Salon’s Joan Walsh writes:

It turns out Walker’s anti-union gambit was a defining moment for the modern Republican Party. When Reagan busted PATCO, the air traffic controllers’ union, he accelerated the decline of the American labor movement, and American workers’ wages have declined along with it ever since. When Walker moved against public employee unions, it was an effort to drive the final nail in labor’s coffin, while defunding a crucial resource base for the Democratic Party. Plutocrats rewarded him handsomely for his work, shoveling money into Wisconsin and burying Democrat Tom Barrett with a 7-1 cash disadvantage.

A ray of hope for Obama: Despite the terrible news for Democrats and labor on the whole, there is some good news for President Obama’s reelection campaign, and perhaps some vindication for not getting more involved, despite hackles from some labor groups. Exit polls show Obama beating Romney by 7 points in the state, though that did not include those who voted absentee. Salon’s Steve Kornacki writes: “This doesn’t mean that Obama is a lock to take Wisconsin in the fall, or that the GOP will be wasting its money to compete in the state.”

Two more blows to unions in California: “In both San Diego and San Jose, voters appeared to overwhelmingly approve ballot initiatives designed to help balance ailing municipal budgets by cutting retirement benefits for city workers. Around 70 percent of San Jose voters favored the pension reform measure, with almost 80 percent of precincts reporting. In San Diego, 67 percent had supported a similar pension reform measure, with more than 65 percent of precincts reporting,” the New York Times’ Ian Lovett reports.

Romney email hacked? Authorities are reportedly looking into an alleged hacking of Mitt Romney’s personal Hotmail account after a tipster told Gawker that he had guessed the presidential candidate’s security question and changed his password. Romney allegedly used the personal account as governor to flout open records laws. “The proper authorities are investigating this crime and we will have no further comment on it,” Romney communications director Gail Gitcho said in a statement.

Few options for Obama on the economy: The AP’s Andrew Taylor: “In the wake of an alarmingly weak jobs report last week, President Barack Obama and lawmakers in both parties find themselves possessing few if any realistic options for jolting the economy out of its doldrums before Election Day. Big-ticket items like payroll tax cuts, free-trade agreements, months of extended unemployment benefits and ‘stimulus’ spending on public works and aid to states and local governments have been tried but have failed to spur a sustained, robust recovery. … Obama’s remaining ‘to do list’  for Congress contains a partial tax credit for new hires, extending tax breaks about to expire, renewing highway and mass transit construction programs and preventing interest rates on student loans from doubling. Even combined, they hold little promise of lifting a $15 trillion economy from its torpor.”

Senate Republicans block pay equality bill: Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act yesterday, which is designed to help narrow the pay gap between men and women. The bill earned 52 votes, falling to a Republican filibuster, which would have required 60 votes to break. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called on Romney to show some courage and push Republicans to support pay equality, which the presumed GOP presidential nominee said he he supports in theory. “It’s a very sad day here in the United States Senate,” said Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski after the vote.

A machine gun and call to “take her out”: A Republican challenging Rep. Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat, put out a campaign video in which he demands his supporters  “take Linda Sanchez out.” In the video, a machine is seen firing at a wall with Sanchez’ name on it. The ad also calls the congresswoman a “hot mess” and says she “has problems budgeting her lifestyle” because she has not paid off her student loans.

The American Prospect on life support: The esteemed liberal magazine faces sad tragic straits and its possible demise. GQ’s Marin Cogin reports the magazine met its $200,000 fundraising goal, but it may be just a band-aid.

She’s the “Birther Queen,” not senator: Orly Taitz, the dentist/lawyer who has made a national name for herself doubting Obama’s birth certificate, had a fairly strong showing in California’s Senate primary last night, finishing in fifth place with over 113,000 votes.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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