The RP’s Weekly Web Gems- The Politics of the States

Along with Republican counterpart Dale Schultz, Democratic Wisconsin State Senator Tim Cullen is touring his state in support of bipartisanship and civility.

Good… news out of Wisconsin this past weekend, as State Senators Tim Cullen, a Democrat, and Dale Schultz, a Republican, hit the road in their “Common Ground Tour,” an effort to promote bipartisanship while cris-crossing Wisconsin in their own cars. Cullen, whose hometown of Janesville is represented in Congress by controversial Republican House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, was one of the 14 Democrats who left the state during the teachers’ union showdown earlier this year, but he is quoted as saying “Bipartisanship is not an evil.” On the Common Ground Tour, Cullen and Schultz aim to bring civility and cooperation to a state torn asunder by recent political battles. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

In other good news, the Ohio state auditor’s office was given high marks for keeping the state’s financial house in order, despite Ohio’s infamous political fights over public-sector unions. [Columbus Dispatch]

In a vivid example of what can happen when partisan gridlock envelopes the system, a stalled Missouri legislature led to effectively no progress in a recent special session, leaving the state, especially the foundering city of St. Louis, in a lurch. If, as expected, the session collapses, efforts to turn St. Louis’s airport into a trading hub and handing the city’s police department back to the city itself (it has been under state control for the past 150 years) wil be left hanging for the second year running, while a state economic development bill will be in a lurch for the fourth year running. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Proving that nasty state-level political tussles are not limited to the politicians, retail giant Costco and the WIne & Spirits Wholesalers of America are engaged in a battle of funding over a Washington state ballot initiative to privatize liquor sales, whereas the state currently controls all such commerce. Last week, Costco donated another $9 million in favor of  privatization, bringing the total amount of money raised up to $34 million. In comparison, next year’s hotly contested gubernatorial race between Democratic Representative Jay Inslee and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna is expected to cost about $25 million. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Former Florida governor Reubin Askew, whose 1971-1979 tenure is widely regarded as among the best in recent Florida history, chastised Florida lawmakers for “blind partisanship” on Thursday. Speaking at an event with Martin Dyckman, who was promoting a book about Askew’s time as governor, the Democrat said that politicians in Tallahassee have jettisoned compromise and even socialization in favor of partisan balkanization, which he compared very unfavorably with the political environment in the 1970’s. [St. Petersburg Times]

Efforts to repeal California’s recently enacted DREAM Act have already begun… and are already highly partisan. Spearheaded by Tim Donnelly, who represents parts far-suburban Los Angele, received permission to begin collecting signatures to put the bill up for a referendum, giving him until January 6 to collect some 504,760 signatures. Donnelly, a Republican, has said that he plans to build support for the movement through social media and talk radio. [Sacramento Bee]

Perhaps disproving the belief in strong parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party (or just confirming their partisan tilts), a Siena Research Institute poll shows residents of New York state supporting Occupy Wall Street by a margin of 49 to 38 and opposing the Tea Party by a margin of 60 to 28. If forced to choose between populist, anti-status quo movements, New Yorkers prefer Occupy Wall Street 49 to 28. [Albany Times Union]


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