Oh what a night.

That was the post I wrote the day after Scott Walker defeated the recall effort against him in 2012:

What a night last night was.  It was as good as if not better than when Scott Brown won in January 2010.

Almost 20,000 people viewed the live feed during the 4 hours it was live.

I hope everyone enjoyed the fireworks display and music. We had fireworks firing off and exploding over the blog posts and music playing in the background, including John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Lee Greenwood singing God Bless The USA, and Kate Smith singing God Bless America.

We haz fireworks that night.

That recall victory for Walker came at the end of what I called Wisconsin’s long, strange trip:

Doesn’t every state have:

Police insurrections.  Palace guards.  Catch a Senator contests.  Doctors behaving badly.  Massive national solidarity protests which weren’t.  Identity theft as political theater.  Shark jumping.  Legislators who run away to other states.  Bus bang bangs.  Protesters locking their heads to metal railings and pretending to walk like Egyptians.  Beer attacks.  Canoe flotillas.  (alleged) Judicial chokeholds.  Tears falling on Che Guevara t-shirts at midnight.  Endless recalls.  And recounts.  Communications Directors making threats.   Judges who think they are legislators  (well, I’ll grant you that one is common).  V-K Day.  Hole-y warriors.  Cities named Speculation and Conjecture.  And the funniest blog headline so far:

First They Came For The Right To Retire After 30 Years On Full Salary With COLAs

Nah, nothing strange about Wisconsin.

Still no idea what I’m talking about?

Scott Walker and the Republican legislature passed public sector union reforms, other than as to first responder unions, which had the effect of freeing state and local government from the iron grip of teachers and other public sector unions. It was a steel cage match, with national unions and Democrats throwing everything they had at Walker.

The intimidation tactics used by #TheResistance and Antifa now were tested during the Wisconsin anti-Walker protests.

Nevertheless, he persisted.

The effect on public sector unions was long-lasting and devastating, as this 2017 Journal Sentinel analysis showed:

Nationally, no state has lost more of its labor union identity than Wisconsin since 2011, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found. Union members made up 14.2% of workers before Act 10, but just 8.3% in 2015. That was nearly double the drop of Alaska, the runner up.

The bottom line: 132,000 fewer union members, mostly teachers and other public workers — enough to fill Lambeau Field and Miller Park, with thousands more tailgating outside.

The decline has put Wisconsin, the birthplace of public-employee unions, near the bottom third of states for unionized workforce. Southern and western states make up most of the lowest tier.

On a practical — and political — level, labor has less money to boost Democratic campaigns, and a diminished pool of foot soldiers to offer.

Its muscle was not able to secure a Wisconsin win for Feingold, or presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Nor has it been enough to block Walker in three elections, or to stop the continued depletion of Democratic lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly.

To labor leaders, Walker is the obvious villain, given his stated desire to conquer unions. In addition to Act 10, he signed a “right-to-work” measure blocking private employers and unions from requiring fees from workers.

Then came the prosecutors and the John Doe investigations, trying to take down Walker and conservative Wisconsin activists. In October 2016, I wrote, Can we finally stick a fork in Wisconsin John Doe?

Who’s the horror movie figure that keeps on popping up just when you think you’ve killed him?

That’s pretty much the nature of the anti-conservative witch hunt carried out under Wisconsin’s so-called John Doe law. Every time the investigation seemed to be beat, the investigating prosecutors would rear their ugly heads.

There was John Doe No. 1, investigating Scott Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. They never came up with any wrongdoing by him. Then there was John Doe No. 2, regarding Walker’s alleged unlawful collusion with conservative groups during the recall election. It is John Doe No. 2 that has generated litigation over the past three years. In the end, every court that ruled on the issue found that the entire prosecution legal theory was legally unfounded — that even if these conservative groups did what they were alleged to have done, it was constitutionally protected speech and not illegal.

Lives were ruined over an attempt to punish constitutionally protected speech by conservatives.

Here are some key posts in our extensive coverage of the John Doe investigation reflecting the abusive tactics:

The evidence that has come out makes beyond a doubt that Walker was the target. Wisconsin AG Report: Govt election officials were “on a mission to bring down the Walker campaign and the Governor himself”.

Nevertheless, he persisted.

Now Walker is in a tight race for reelection. A Marquette Law School poll released today shows the race tied:

A new Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters finds a tie in the state’s race for governor, with incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democrat challenger Tony Evers each receiving 47 percent support among likely voters. Libertarian candidate Phil Anderson receives 3 percent, and only 1 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate. One percent declined to respond to the question. Likely voters are defined as those who say they are certain to vote in the Nov. 6 election. In the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, conducted Oct. 3-7, Walker was supported by 47 percent, Evers by 46 percent and Anderson by 5 percent among likely voters…

The poll was conducted Oct. 24-28, 2018. The sample included 1,400 registered voters in Wisconsin interviewed by cell phone or landline, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. For likely voters, the sample size is 1,154 and the margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

It’s self-evident, but Marquette points out anyway, turnout will be critical:

The results for likely voters are based on the definition that the Marquette Law School Poll has used since it began in 2012: those who say they are certain they will vote in November. Alternative models of likely voters could be broader, including those saying they are less than certain to vote, or could include enthusiasm and attention to politics. Table 1 shows the vote for governor by alternative measures of likelihood of turnout averaging over certainty of voting, enthusiasm and attention to politics. Evers’ percentage of the vote generally rises when turnout is projected to be lower, while Walker’s vote percentage changes little in different projections of turnout.

Democrats are running a bland pro-union guy, hoping to make Walker the issue in the race and to bring out the Walker-hating Democrat base:

Little about Tony Evers feels like he’d be the one to slay the giant.

But with less than two weeks to go before people head to the polls, Evers — an unassuming Democrat running for governor in Wisconsin — is on the verge of doing something that has long eluded professional Democrats: Defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
An average of polls shows Evers leading Walker in the final weeks of the campaign, causing Republican operatives in the state and in Washington to feel that 2018 is the best chance Democrats have ever had at taking down someone they have been longing to oust for years.
“I am the underdog,” Walker told CNN.

Why that’s the case is a more complicated question, given even the most ardent Democrats in the city’s most liberal enclaves see Evers, the superintendent of Wisconsin schools, as a less than exciting candidate. Democratic voters described him as “adequate,” “not very exciting” and someone lacking “a lot of charisma,” but then said they were “guaranteed” to vote for him because of their deep antipathy towards the governor.

Walker admittedly faces a series of unique headwinds. His near universal name recognition in Wisconsin has created a state full of hardened supporters and detractors, with only a few people in the middle undecided on him personally. He is also asking voters to back him for the fourth time in eight years, something even Walkers’ closest advisers admit is difficult. And he is running for a third-term in a year where Republicans nationally are facing backlash created by President Donald Trump’s presidency.

“People either love him or hate him,” said a top Republican operative. “So, this is the best chance Democrats have of beating him.”

This reelection bid is below the national media radar, compared to other governor races. But it’s critical. It’s an issue if the Walker revolution can survive, or will the unions regain control of state government.

If you are in Wisconsin, don’t sit home. If you know someone in Wisconsin, make sure they don’t sit home.

Wisconsin, you don’t want to go back on the long, strange trip.