Last night Wisconsin held local elections. In a normal year, this wouldn't be such a big deal, but given that nothing is normal under Donald Trump, the results in this state portend the oft-mentioned Blue Wave that will sweep Democrats to victory this fall.
For the past eight years, Wisconsin has been ravaged by Koch Brothers puppet governor Scott Walker, who has made it one of the hardest states to vote in. He's removed abortion coverage for workers and destroyed unions by limiting collective bargaining. His voter ID laws kept thousands of African-Americans who had voted for Obama in 2012 from voting in 2016, making Trump the first Republican to win there since 1984.
All this still only scratches the surface of Walker's anti-democratic rule. For much of 2018, he has refused to hold two special elections, leading to a lawsuit from former Attorney General Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC.) In a Dane County Circuit Court, Judge Josann Reynolds - a Walker appointee - called his bluff, accusing him of violating the state constitution and decrying his reasons for doing so as "inconsistent, incompatible, and ludicrous." He refused to comply with the ruling, asking for a stay in order to convene a legislative session to eliminate the constitution's provision requiring him to call the elections. A second Dane County judge denied the stay, followed by a third denial from the state's Second District Court of Appeals. He announced last week the elections will be in June.
Walker, who was elected in 2010 as part of the first class of Tea Party, Citizens United-funded Republicans, survived a recall attempt in 2012 and won re-election in 2014. Running for his third term this November, Walker probably thought he was invincible until last night when Democrats, who've been longing to send him and his corporate overlords a message, got their chance to do so in a local election that sent liberal judge Rebecca Dallet to the Wisconsin Supreme Court over his handpicked favorite, Michael Screnock, by a whopping 56 to 44%, shrinking the conservative majority from 5-2 to 4-3.
Democrats, who have not won a seat on the Court since 1995, had advantages from Holder and the NDRC, who spent $500,000 on this race. But it wasn't just big money that gave Dallet the victory, it was the base. Just look at these numbers, courtesy of MSNBC:
Dane County (Madison) - 2016: 70%, 2018: Dallet, 81%.
Eau Claire County - 2016: Clinton 50%, 2018: Dallet 64%.
Milwaukee County - 2016: Clinton 66%, 2018: Dallet 66%.
Kenosha County - 2016: Trump 47%, 2018: Dallet 57%.
So Dallet not only matched or exceeded Clinton's total in certain counties, she even managed to exceed Trump's votes in some of them. And even more impressively, 48% of her vote total came from counties in Paul Ryan's first district, which would send chills down his spine if he had one.
What's more, Democrats who insist we can't win by bashing the NRA should rethink that strategy. Screnock was proud to accept the gun lobby's endorsement on February 13th; the day after that, Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. With anti-gun sentiment on the rise, Dallet played to her base by rallying them around this issue, telling voters that AR-15s shouldn't be sold and that weapons should be kept "out of the hands of dangerous criminals and those who shouldn't have them."
This landslide victory, plus the even bigger defeat of a Republican-backed referendum that would've eliminated the position of Wisconsin state treasurer, sent Walker into a tizzy last night as he took to Twitter and pleaded with his constituents to stop the madness:
Walker can beg and plead all he wants, but his words recall a tweet from author Mark Harris early in 2017:
The American people remember, and they'll remember through 2018 and 2020 when the blue wave builds and sweeps them all into obscurity. And if we're lucky, they'll remember forever as future generations grow up reading textbooks about the way one of the two major parties openly ran against democracy itself - and got destroyed.