CELEBRATION – In November 2010, Republican Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin, winning 52 percent of the vote against his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
On Tuesday, a recall vote aimed at bouncing Walker after a year and half in office ended up with almost exactly the same results, only his support went up a notch to 53 percent, over Barrett.
And with Wisconsin now viewed as a swing state that could help decide the November presidential election, conservatives say Walker’s victory is a huge win for the cause of reduced government – including many conservatives in Central Florida active with the Tea Party movement.
Wisconsin hasn’t been a battleground state for two decades – the last time the state voted for a Republican presidential nominee was in 1984, when Ronald Reagan sought his landslide second term. Since then, Wisconsin has endorsed only Democratic nominees.
But Walker’s victory, coming less than five months before voters head to the polls to decide whether to re-elect President Obama or instead replace him with GOP nominee Mitt Romney, has left conservatives in another swing state, Florida, thinking Walker’s victory is a bad omen for the president, and a victory for those who champion the cause of reducing the reach of state and federal government.
“The Tea Party of Florida congratulates Governor Scott Walker and the people of Wisconsin for the remarkable results of the recall election,” said John Long, chairman of the Tea Party of Florida, which is based in Celebration. “The voters of Wisconsin spoke to their state leaders in a loud, clear voice, demanding a continuation of the financial reforms that brought them back from a painful and daunting deficit. We congratulate Wisconsin on retiring over $3.6 billion in deficits, returning the state to fiscal stability and giving the citizens of Wisconsin promise of a future that does not include never-ending debt.”
The desire to reduce government, Long said, should be extended to Florida and the other 48 states.
“The Tea Party of Florida urges citizens of other states to demand Wisconsin-style reform and fiscal discipline,” he said. “It is only through strong fiscal reform and even stronger backbone in the face of the ugly and divisive attacks of reform opponents that we can pull our country back from the brink of permanent financial ruin.”
Doug Guetzloe, founder of the Ax the Tax grassroots movement, called Tuesday’s vote “a great victory for the people of Wisconsin,” and added, “The victory of Governor Scott Walker, against overwhelming odds, sends a strong signal across America. More importantly, it signals a decline in the Obama campaign fortunes. It was a classic political battle with all the elements — people, special interests groups and a lot of swing voters — that spells doom for a second term for the President.”
Florida has voted for the winner in every presidential election since World War II, including Obama, except for 1960 and 1992.
Amy Kremer, chairman of Tea Party Express, said, “The victories just keep rolling in, and the victory tonight over these frivolous recalls emphasize the Tea Party tidal wave that is sweeping across our nation.”
Walker’s policies, Kremer added, “embody the foundational principles of the tea party.”
But as Republicans and conservatives were crowing about the Walker victory, former Democratic congressman Alan Grayson – who is running for Congress again this fall, in Florida’s new 9th Congressional District – questioned whether it was the Tea Party that’s out of touch with the public.
“I’m not exactly a fan of the Tea Party,” Grayson said. “When a debate among Republican candidates was marred by Tea Party members in the audience urging the uninsured to die, I called that ‘sadism.” I said on national TV that ‘It’s the same impulse that led people in the Coliseum to cheer when the lions ate the Christians.’ The year before, I said that teabaggers attending a Glenn Beck rally ‘were wearing sheets over their heads 25 years ago.’ At around the same time, when a reporter compared Ron Paul libertarians to Tea Party members, I said ‘Many of the libertarians are physicists, and many of the Tea Party people don’t bathe. There’s really not much in common there.’ ”
Nonetheless, Grayson added, “There is one thing that I like about the Tea Party — they get their people nominated. And often elected.”
Still, he added, good candidates doesn’t mean good lawmakers.
“The Tea Party puts worse and worse Republicans in Congress – selfish, bigoted tools,” Grayson. “The only way that we can counter that is for us to put better Democrats in Congress, Democrats who will fight for justice, equality and peace.”
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