Just weeks after Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin pushed through his plan to cut off the collective bargaining rights of state employees, Wisconsin voters went to the polls to elect a replacement for Governor Walker as the Milwaukee County Executive and a state Supreme Court Justice.  Both races showed a strong lead for the Republican-backed candidate (the judicial election is officially non-partisan) only weeks ago, but may have turned out the other way once all the votes are counted.  The Washington Post reports that in an election framed by Democrats as a referendum on the legislative actions taken by Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans, incumbent Justice David Prosser now trails challenger Joanne Kloppenburg, and Democrat Chris Abele defeated Republican Jeff Stone by a wide margin to become the new Milwaukee County Executive.

If, in fact, Democratic voters are energized by the plight of organized labor in the recent showdowns with Republican administrations in multiple Midwestern states, this theme could continue through further elections and into 2012.  Add to it the ability of labor unions in a post-Citizens United regime to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcomes of elections, and the likelihood of this issue fading from view any time soon becomes extremely small.  As Republicans at the national level also seek deep cuts in programs that help poor and working class people while continuing to provide tax handouts to the wealthy, state and national Republicans will have to stand shoulder to shoulder to defend their budgetary priorities, and if Wisconsin is an early indication, the American public may not buy into it.

Photo Credit: Associated Press via Huffington Post