"The Recall Drive in Wisconsin"
Activists in Wisconsin have hit upon a method that coud conceivably lead to the end of the deadlock there. Several Republican State Senators are eligible for recall, and progressives in the state are going to go for it:
Under Wisconsin law, supporters of this recall effort now have 60 days to collect an amount of signatures “equal to at least 25% of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last election within the same district or territory as that of the officeholder being recalled.” The amount of signatures necessary to trigger a recall will vary from district to district, but will range from about 15,000 to 21,000 signatures per recalled senator.
Via Jon Chait, here’s how the eight senators’ in question districts voted in 2004 and 2008:
Robert Cowles (District 2): 2004 – Bush +15%; 2008 – Obama +6%
Alberta Darling (District 8): 2004 – Bush +7%; 2008 – Obama +4%
Sheila Harsdorf (District 10): 2004 – Bush +3%; 2008 – Obama +2%
Luther Olsen (District 14): 2004 – Bush +13%; 2008 – Obama +5%
Randy Hopper (District 18): 2004 – Bush +15%; 2008 – Obama +4%
Glen Grothman (District 20): 2004 – Bush +39%; 2008 – McCain +27%
Mary Lazich (District 28): 2004 – Bush +29%; 2008 – McCain +21%
Dan Kapanke (District 32): 2004 – Kerry +7%; 2008 – Obama +23%
Only Kapanke is super-vulnerable, but Cowles, Darling, Harsdorf, Olsen, and Hopper all have something to worry about. As Chait notes, contributing money to this drive is probably “more constructive than playing guitar and eating pizza.” I note that there’s also the possibility that the mere threat of recall will compel some of these folks to start looking harder for compromise. Wisconsin State Senators’ offices probably don’t get a lot of calls from out-of-state people saying “look, I’m not the kind of person who’s normally inclined to get involved in Wisconsin state politics, but I’m going to do everything in my power to beat you on this issue.” Obviously a threat followed by actual money or volunteering is more useful than a bluff, but even a bluff works! The main reason we don’t have more progressive public policy in this country is that progressives aren’t good enough at delivering these kind of contacts and concrete political threats to real pressure points.