Over at Daily Kos, Chris Bowers has identified a number of key opportunities for Democrats emerging from the fights taking place in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire and beyond over collective bargaining rights.
Force every GOP Presidential candidate to go on record against collective bargaining rights. Finally, holding the election in 2011 can still greatly benefit Democrats in 2012. Since the Ohio referendum will happen in the midst of the Republican Presidential nomination campaign, and since every Republican candidate will want to appeal to the party’s hard-right base and elites, every single one of them will go on record opposing collective bargaining rights for public workers. This would not necessarily have been the case in 2012, when the GOP nominee would be able to offer up vague answers on the issue. As such, a 2011 referendum could actually have a bigger impact on 2012 than holding the referendum in 2012, since it will make the stakes in the 2012 election crystal clear to millions of public employees around the country.
This is right. New Hampshire and Ohio are places important to both the GOP primary and the general election; Wisconsin is a state that has recently experienced a Republican surge (though it pretty clearly looks like a fleeting one). While governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have made large, public attacks on unionized public workers, there has been a huge volume of national attention to their actions. Unfortunately for the GOP presidential field, these assaults on workers is costing newly-elected Republicans key support. Police and firefighter unions are moving away from the Republican Party in places where these attacks are under way. These islands of Republican support within the sea of organized labor can be important parts of any candidate’s field operation. So the primary field is faced with a tough choice: to stand with extreme anti-labor ideologues in governors’ mansions around the country against a public backlash puts what little union support they might win at risk. In case you haven’t noticed, cops and firefighters are some of the best political messengers; this is not a risk any Republican presidential candidate should take lightly.
Update (1:43pm, 4/1/11):
Speaking of candidates hating on unions, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, & Mike Pence just voted against stripping union-busting provisions from the FAA reauthorization bill.