Trounced! Abele delivers crushing blow to Stone, Walker

In a crushing blow to the Wisconsin GOP, Greenfield State Representative Jeff Stone learned that there are ramifications to being a rubber stamp for Governor Scott Walker. Philanthropist Chris Abele won a stunning 61% of the vote compared to Stone’s 39% in what was widely considered to be a referendum on the policies of Scott Walker.

Irony abounds in this race. Walker was the Milwaukee County Executive who won not just one but three elections in Milwaukee County before leaving the county post for the Governor’s mansion. But Walker’s was a classic case of over-reaching by thinking that voters gave him carte blanc to pursue the radical agenda he wasted no time in passing. Stone made the mistake of thinking that talk radio would deliver him the votes he needed to win the seat. After all, it worked for Walker, it should work for Stone, right?


Voters across the state had one of the most contentious Supreme Court races to choose from than they have ever had on their plate. Incumbent, and former Republican Speaker of the State Assembly, David Prosser was defending his seat against Assistant Attorney General Joann Kloppenburg. Prosser is part of the 4-3 Republican sympathizer majority on the court and if he has the chance, he will certainly uphold the Walker legislation stripping workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The Supreme Court race has been dominated by outside interest ads including those from billionaire David Koch‘s Americans for Prosperity PAC. Koch used his ads to smear Kloppenburg.

One of the advertised criticisms of Kloppenburg has been that she has never been a judge. This is true. However, David Prosser was never a judge before he became a Justice on the Supreme Court either. Kloppenburg and her allies failed to point this out in her ads and even as this is being written, the results of that race are within 1000 votes and it is too close to call. (It astounds the mind that a state Supreme Court race would come down to less than 1000 votes.)

State Representative Jeff Stone

Abele’s race however was anything but close. He played his cards very well. Although the GOP muck raking machine was as effective as they have ever been, Abele neutralized their claims by running a great ad which quickly dismissed the Stone mudslinging and identified Abele as a leader needed for changing times.

Stone took the unusual approach of touting his education and degrees which are impressive. He contrasted himself to Abele who has not completed a college. But this is Milwaukee County. Our blue collar roots run deep. Voters have already made it quite clear in the past 3 County Executive races that a degree does not matter. After all, Walker had been criticized for dropping out of college but it never affected his winning his Exec races. It was a poorly thought out calculation to claim he was more experienced based on a college degree that voters don’t care about.

This race was more than about whether Chris Abele or Jeff Stone were good guys. This race was also a referendum on Scott Walker. Never in the time that Walker was in office in Milwaukee County did he ever try anything as radical as killing the unions. He underfunded departmental budgets. He created a yearly fiscal crisis by understating expenses and overstating revenues. He borrowed heavily to continue to fund programs and infrastructure the local public holds dear. He even kicked privatization up a notch above and beyond the privatizing that his predecessor, Tom Ament, had already done.

But as County Executive, Walker never had the ability to attack all nearly all unions at the same time. When he did that, under an all too transparent guise of balancing the budget, the pendulum swung back to hit him. When Walker went on television and said that the protesters were dominated by out of state union representatives, anyone of the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who had traveled to Madison to protest were outraged. They felt belittled. They were correct in thinking that their voices were being ignored. Walker sent a very clear message to Wisconsinites who disagreed with him — they did not matter.

And then Jeff Stone voted with Scott Walker.

The public was enraged. Walker continued his policy of dividing people against their neighbors. Everyone has an opinion about this issue. Firefighters, who were hailed as selfless heroes in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attack on the world trade center are maligned as overpaid and selfish. Teachers who dedicate their days to teaching children and their nights and weekends to grading papers are being portrayed by the Walker allies as being greedy and out of touch. Every public employee throughout the state has at some time in the last few months had Walker fanatics tease them or mock them for their pension or benefits package that is part of their negotiated compensation.

Walker made these public servants feel unappreciated and a target for malice and envy.

And then Jeff Stone voted with Scott Walker.

Walker’s use of class warfare has been effective in the past but many union members have still voted for him. This has emboldened the GOP and their funders to dial up the class warfare fight. They have made it clear that they want to tie public servants to greed. Even in the Supreme Court race, Joann Kloppenburg was called a “government lawyer”. In the past, being a prosecuting attorney or an assistant Attorney General would have great on a political resume. Since that would not serve the Prosser campaign, the Prosser allies attempted to tie Kloppenburg to those greedy government workers.

Clearly allying himself to Walker was not a wise move for Jeff Stone. He should have smelled his own blood in the water when two committees to recall republican senators turned in enough votes to force an election to toss out Walker’s rubber stamp allies. It is a monumental task to gather nearly 20,000 signatures to force a recall election and anti-Walker activists are close to filing against a third Republican Senator.

Abele, who ran a great campaign, was certainly a beneficiary of Stone’s alliance with Walker. This wasn’t just a small slap on the wrist for Walker. It was an uppercut that will daze the GOP and will likely force them to change their strategy going into the 2012 elections.



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