PARKERSBURG - Two local professors don't expect any impact on West Virginia's general election in November resulting from the failed effort in June to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker, a Republican, had convinced state legislators to curb collective bargaining for public employees and require them to pay more for health insurance and pensions in 2011. Many Democrats opposed Walker's actions to end collective bargaining rights for state employees and collected over 900,000 signatures to initiate the recall election process.
The 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial election was a recall election to elect the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. Walker is the first U.S. governor to continue in office after facing a recall election, with it being the third gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history and the only one in which the incumbent was not defeated.
Despite its impact in Wisconsin, local experts don't expect the recall and its results to have any impact in West Virginia, even with the union aspects of the situation.
Rob Anderson, assistant professor of history at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, said he looks at specific issues and he doesn't see any of them translating to West Virginia's election in November. While opponents described Walker's actions as an attack on unions and the salaries of state employees, he doesn't see that happening in West Virginia.
Anderson said what he finds interesting about the U.S. is that every state has its own constituencies and its own issues. In West Virginia, it is not an attack on labor that is the current concern, but there are more concerns about environmentalism and impacts on the coal industry and the jobs it provides.
He also looks at the increasingly lengthy process to elect a president and believes there is really a cumulative effect. If one talks to people on the street, Anderson said he wonders how many people will recall specifics about the Wisconsin issues and how those impact the presidential election.
"It's really going to boil down to, 'do I have a future and do I feel secure in my job,'" he said, adding how people will vote will come down to which candidates they believe address those issues in their own minds.
"I don't see a great deal of impact, at this time," Anderson said, looking ahead at West Virginia's upcoming election.
Phillip Sturm, professor of history at Ohio Valley University, said he has a lot of interest in politics and follows them at the local and national levels, including watching what happened in Wisconsin.
He doesn't think it will have any impact on West Virginia, or on the national election. While the recall effort came from the Democratic side and failed, he has not seen any indication that the failure was a referendum on the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama.
Sturm said he remembers when polling was done on the recall election day, it found that 17 percent of those who voted to keep Walker said they would still vote for Obama in the presidential election.
It wasn't a vote against Obama, but against the long reach of the labor unions in the state of Wisconsin, Sturm said.
"It was a fiscal issue up there," he said.
Sturm said he won't be surprised if Wisconsin votes for Obama as it did in 2008. He also wasn't surprised by the failure of the recall, saying advance polling indicated Walker would win by a narrow margin and he did.
"There's an old saying that 'Politics is local' and that was about local issues," he said.
"I certainly think it will have no impact on West Virginia," Sturm said.