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2011 ELECTION, LABOR, OHIO, POLITICS, THE ISSUES, THE STATE OF STATES

Ohio Vote On Labor Is Parsed For Omens

via Sabrina Tavernise and Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

The landslide vote to repeal an Ohio law that limits collective bargaining has sounded a strong note of caution for Republican governors and lawmakers across the country, raising questions about some of their legislative efforts, especially those that would weaken labor unions. But the victory, while trumpeted by labor leaders, may not necessarily improve the prospects of unions or the Democrats, their traditional allies, in 2012, political analysts said.

As labor leaders took their victory lap Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats from Maine to Wisconsin were adding the Ohio results to their political calculus for next year’s presidential election. Would there be fallout in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker could face a recall vote next spring? What can Democrats do to try to keep the energy — and the issue — from fizzling?

Gov. John R. Kasich, who had pushed the law in Ohio, seemed chastened, acknowledging on Tuesday night that, for voters, the bill had been “too much too soon.” Even before the vote, his approval rating was just 36 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll in October.

“The results here in Ohio are likely to give Republican governors and legislators incentives to be cautious,” said John C. Green, director of the Bliss Institute, a political research center at the University of Akron. “The popularity of the Republican position has fallen somewhat.”

But Tuesday’s result contained a twist: The same voters who overwhelmingly rejected the labor bill — by a margin of 61 to 39 percent — voted in even greater numbers in favor of a symbolic measure against President Obama’s health care law. Democrats dismissed it, but State Senator Bill Seitz, a Republican who opposed the repealed law, said it spoke to a deeper disgust among voters with the political class.

“The message is, a plague on both your houses,” Mr. Seitz said. “It was a nonideological expression of frustration by an overwhelming number of voters about the inability of their elected leaders to come up with a more consensus-based collaborative approach.”

Labor and Democratic politicians seized on the referendum as a warning to Republicans.

“Governors in other states ought to take heed of this,” said Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “If not, they do so at their own peril, and they may face a backlash.”

Mr. Trumka was referring to Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Tennessee, states where Republicans have sought to enact legislation to weaken labor unions.

Perhaps the biggest fallout of the Ohio vote will be in Wisconsin, where thousands of union volunteers have geared up to collect the 540,000 signatures needed to get Governor Walker’s recall on the ballot. Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said that while the states were distinct, the outcome in Ohio “should probably worry him a bit,” referring to Mr. Walker.

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  1. Pingback: Court rejects appeal by Ohio man who killed 3 sons | Columbus Home Search - November 11, 2011

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