Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is feeling the pressure of the upcoming recall election he faces on June 5, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview this week the campaign to remove him from office has become so venomous that opponents have harassed his family both in person and through the Internet.
But, while times are difficult, Walker believes his recent challenges -- including the recall -- are all part of God's plan for him.
We realize that all this is just a temporary thing and God's got a plan for us that, who knows where it might be, beyond just serving as Governor of this state, but if we stay true to that, there's always comfort, Walker said in an interview with CBN's The Brody File this week. The full interview is set to air on the Pat Robertson-hosted program The 700 Club later this month.
The embattled governor has had a tumultuous journey since being sworn into office last January. After Walker pushed a so-called budget repair bill through the state assembly that stripped most government workers of their collective bargaining rights and barred unions from automatically deducting dues from government paychecks, the state Capitol was flooded with tens of thousands of protesters. Demonstrations against the bill were one of the largest state protest mobilizations in recent memory.
On March 30, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that two provisions of the law are unconstitutional, in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of unions last summer shortly after it was voted into law by Wisconsin's Republican-controlled state Legislature.
The effort to recall Walker from office has drawn extensive support. In January, roughly one million signatures were turned in to recall the governor -- almost double the 540,208 required to trigger such an election -- and there are already four Democratic candidates competing in the May primary for the chance to unseat Walker.
Despite the numbers, those hoping for a successful recall face long odds. Only two U.S. governors have been successfully voted out of office: North Dakota's Lynn Frazier in 1921 and more recently California's Gray Davis, who was recalled in 2003.
Walker, in his interview with CBN, maintained the upcoming recall election is the work of powerful public unions who are using intimidation tactics to take him out. That has reportedly extended to his family -- the governor claims his teenage son and his mother have been yelled at by recall supporters at a grocery store, and his children have been targeted on Facebook.
However, he added that for every one of his opponents, there's tenfold people that come up to me at a factory or a farm or a small business and say,'Hey Governor, me and my family are praying for you.'
Tea Party Support
Supporters of the Tea Party movement were instrumental in his gubernatorial win last year.
Do we want people who stand up with the hard-working American people who pay taxes making decisions at the local and the state level, Walker asked, in response to how important a victory on June 5th would be in he future of the national Tea Party movement, or do we want a handful of big government union bosses continuing to call the shots? And that, to me, is really what it's about.
As of now, it's likely that Walker will be able to hold onto his office despite being deeply unpopular with Democrats. 71 percent of Wisconsin Republicans strongly approve of his job performance and another 11 percent somewhat approve, according to exit polling information collected by The Washington Post during the state's Republican primary race on Tuesday. Among those who consider themselves very conservative, Walker has a 98 percent approval rating, and he has an equally striking 97 percent approval rating among self-professed Tea Party supporters.
However, an NBC/Marist poll conducted the week before the primary race found that, across the state, 48 percent of state residents both approve and disapprove of Walker's job performance. Among Republicans, 91 percent supported Walker, while 84 percent of Democrats disapproved. Independents, the political demographic that could decide the recall election, are also divided, with 47 percent equally approving and disapproving of the governor's performance.
Even though Walker's lacks support among Democrats, the main complaint against the governor -- his dissolution of the public unions' collective bargaining abilities -- may not resonate with them, something that could be detrimental for turnout in June's recall. While Wisconsin has traditionally been a strong labor union state, recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that union membership dropped by 16,000 last year, only leaving 13.3 percent of the employed population -- or 339,000 workers -- represented by unions, down from 14.2 percent in 2010.
That isn't to say labor unions are not a powerful political force in the state. But, if unionization rates are so low that a wide majority of workers do not have a personal connection to issues facing those organizations as a result of Walker's policies, it may be difficult to mobilize Democratic voters against Walker and his fervent supporters in June.