Wis. Governor Recall Election Closely Watched

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Wisconsin voters will send a message to the nation on Tuesday when they go to the polls to vote in the gubernatorial recall election.

The recall election is being seen as a big test for the power of Democrat-allied unions, which is why some say it could be an indicator of what will be seen this November.

The path to recall started almost 16 months ago with union activists taking over the capital to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining reforms.

Those efforts have now morphed into a more traditional campaign, with handshakes and campaign stops, fueled by boatloads of national money.

Democrats, led by former President Bill Clinton, portray the contest between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Walker as a fight between "uniters" and "dividers."

"People who want to work together to solve problems, and people who want to divide an conquer," is the way Clinton phrased it.

But high profile governors such as Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, have come to Walker's aid.

Fellow Wisconsin, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan cast the election in Constitutional terms at a weekend Tea Party rally.

"The whole country is watching," Ryan told the crowd.

"Will we get government to live within its means? Do we believe in those founding principles?" he asked. "Liberty, freedom, free enterprise, government by the consent of the governed -- the stuff that makes America great?"

With the Badger State hosting so many political stars, some were asking, "Where's President Obama?"

Turns out he was right next door, attending fundraisers in Minnesota and Illinois for his own campaign, just an hour away from Wisconsin.

Another set of dismal job numbers put the president on the defensive this weekend.

"When we embarked on this journey, it wasn't just to get back to where we were before the financial crunch," the President said at one of those weekend fund raisers. "The idea was to start fixing things in a more fundamental way."

Employment plans dominate the recall race as well.

"Our opponent has had more than 50 days to talk about a plan," Walker said. "He refuses to answer that because he doesn't have a plan."

"Obviously, I have a plan," Barrett countered. "In 2010 I had a 67-page plan. We're still working off that same plan. It's an economic development plan that focuses on small business because that's where the growth in jobs are."

Walker's collective bargaining reforms in Wisconsin may not be at the forefront of the debate, but they will be a big factor in turnout.

If Walker is able to win this third recall election for governor in American history, other governors may take on their employee unions as well.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.