Dale Schultz, the Republican State Senator who has been on the fence on the budget repair bill that will strip away public employee collective bargaining rights, will vote against the bill, according to protest organizer leadership. According to the Capitol City Leadership Committee, Schultz told State Sen. Lena Taylor (D) that he’s a no on the bill.
This was very expected among the community in Wisconsin. Schultz represents the 17th Senate District in Wisconsin, which Obama won 61-38 and even Kerry carried. Schultz has been a longtime moderate, and there are a lot of union members in his district. He offered a compromise, since removed, to sunset the collective bargaining restrictions after two years. He has been trying to find a way to bridge the gap here, and with the Republican leadership not budging, he finally had to side with the people and say no.
I would not be surprised if the Tea Party groups in Wisconsin reacted to this with a recall for Dale Schultz. The way recalls work in Wisconsin is that it basically sets up a do-over election. There is a special election called with a primary and then a general ballot. Schultz would have to face a Tea Party primary.
At a meeting of the “Fighting Bob” coalition, the progressives in Madison, yesterday, John Nichols of the Nation told the assembled that they would have to help Republicans who stood with the people on workers’ rights. They would potentially get involved in Dale Schultz’ election, to help him win the primary.
The other notable part of this is that there is now bipartisan, bicameral support for blocking the Walker assault on workers. Four Assembly Republicans, most of them from rural districts, voted against the bill last week in the quick-strike vote. Now Schultz joins the Democrats in the Senate in opposition. No Democrats have even considered crossing over to support the bill.
Protesters were enthusiastic about Schultz’ defection. There’s been a big sign up in the Capitol for at least a week saying “We need 3 Cou(R)ageous Senators,” referring to the three votes needed to block the bill (there are 19 Republicans and 14 Democrats in the State Senate). One down, two to go.
UPDATE: Officially, the chief of staff for Schultz has said that he’s still undecided. They’re a little gun shy on this, I think. But I’m fairly confident that he’s a no in the end, especially because his vote is not needed for passage.