Commentary
11:33 am
Thu November 10, 2011

Paul Scott Recall: The Aftermath

There’s an old saying I’m sure we’ve all heard: Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.  I think that’s where we are now, two days after State Representative Paul Scott was recalled.

Well, his opponents did get him out of office, assuming the narrow margin stands up when they officially certify the vote. So, what does that mean, and what did his enemies really accomplish?

The answer seems to be, not much. In fact, by spending heavily in their efforts to get Scott recalled, the Michigan Education Association may have made things worse for themselves.

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger named Tom McMillan to serve as interim chair of the House Education Committee.  McMillan is probably the legislator the education lobby dislikes the most.  He has what’s been called the most conservative voting record in the entire legislature.

What‘s more, he wants to privatize public schools. So that’s what the MEA spent upwards of a hundred and forty thousand dollars to accomplish. Incidentally, the transgendered community and their allies also worked against Paul Scott; they were offended by his stands against their changing their sex on their drivers licenses.

These folks should know that McMillan has previously been best known for anti-gay stands so extreme that Republicans like L. Brooks Patterson have taken pains to distance themselves from him.

Scott’s removal, by the way, does virtually nothing to alter the balance of power in the legislature; Republicans still have large majorities in both houses. The Grand Blanc area will now be left unrepresented in the state house for a few months.

But when the seat is filled, in a special election February 28, the odds have to favor Republicans recapturing it. Why? Because the major election that day is the Republican presidential primary. GOP voters are going to have a vested interest in showing up at the polls. Democrats are going to have far less incentive to come out and vote.  So, good luck with this one.

There might be one good unintended effect from all this -- an end to the romantic allure of recalls. Our fascination with them dates back to the far-off year of nineteen eighty-three, when voters angry over a tax increase recalled two Democratic state senators, handing control of the upper house to the Republicans. They’ve controlled it ever since.

This recall seems to have done little except to cause both sides to spend a lot of money. Yesterday, Republicans vowed not to be deterred from their agenda. Mike Shirkey, the house member pushing anti-union, right-to-work legislation proclaimed that he was “reignited” by the recall vote.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said yesterday that she felt the recall weapon should only be used when a legislator was guilty of malfeasance. I agree, but would have been a lot more impressed if she had said that before this week’s vote.

We have regular recall elections for the state house, by the way. They are called elections, and happen every two years.

Common sense would seem to indicate that unless Representative Snidely Whiplash is working as a bookie from the Capitol, we ought to wait to vote him out till next November.

In the meantime, I suggest we all go back to work.