Last year Ohio governor John Kasich passed a law restricting collective bargaining for state employees, much like the one we have here in Wisconsin — whether because Kasich is a defter political operator than Scott Walker or because Columbus and Madison are not very similar, he got SB 5 passed with substantially less hubbub than we had here in WI.
There’s another difference between Wisconsin and Ohio. The Wisconsin constitution allows for recall of sitting elected officials; the Ohio constitution doesn’t. But Ohio is one of 24 states were a popular referendum can overturn a statute passed by the state legislature. Wisconsin is not.
Ohio voters go to the polls today to decide whether Kasich’s law stays on the books. Polls suggest Kasich is headed for defeat, though polling on ballot referenda are generally considered less reliable than election surveys. The Walker recall, meanwhile, is said to have a higher hill to climb, especially given Russ Feingold’s decision not to jump in.
What if Walker’s State Bill 11, instead of Walker himself, were facing recall by Wisconsin voters? Would it be more or less likely to survive?
On one hand, I think there’s likely to be a substantial body of voters who oppose SB 11, and who will vote for a Democrat in the next regular election, but who think recalls should be reserved for criminal or at least plainly unethical conduct. On the other hand, I think there are plenty of people who dislike Walker but also don’t care very much about collective bargaining, and might not show up for a referendum vote: during the State Senate recall elections this spring, the dominant campaign theme for Democrats was not “restore collective bargaining” but “Scott Walker is a bad guy who wants to defund your school and fire station.”
(Speaking of the State Senate recalls — the GOP is now down to a one-vote majority in the chamber, and for all intents and purposes that vote belongs to centrist Sen. Dale Schultz of Richland Center. Schultz crossed party lines last week to keep the new Republican-drawn district boundaries from going into effect a year early. The measure was expected to help Republican incumbents defend against a new wave of legislative recall elections in 2012.)