Conventional political wisdom holds that Democrats opposed the Foxconn incentive package because they saw up to 13,000 new jobs as an untenable political boost to Governor Scott Walker’s 2018 re-election prospects. Despite a low unemployment rate, Democrats have been using job growth as a cudgel against Walker and hoped to exploit the issue next year. Landing Foxconn would appear to crush those hopes. Yet one liberal Wisconsin group believes running against Foxconn next year could be the key to electoral success. Citizen Action Wisconsin’s Robert Kraig made that case last week:
Foxconn Fallout Could Spark Progressive Election Surge
Citizen Action members who fought hard against the worst economic development deal in American history are committed to making sure it becomes a defining issue in the 2018 elections.
Citizen Action research is laying the groundwork. A Citizen Action of Wisconsin analysis released in a news conference shows the Foxconn deal is a scandal waiting to happen. See coverage from the Capital Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Also listen to Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig discuss our Foxconn analysis on the radio on the Devil’s Advocates Show and the Mike Daily Show.
Foxconn has said it hopes to get construction underway next year and visible signs of progress on the $10 billion facility would seriously undercut any strategy that paints the deal as a bad one for Wisconsin. It is a safe bet that Badger State liberals plan on using the same tactic they used unsuccessfully against Act 10 reforms and the state’s photo ID law: court challenges. Such a strategy would explain why they are already targeting a key provision in the Foxconn legislation. The bill gives Foxconn an unprecedented expedited appeals process. Under the provision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court can take certain cases directly from the circuit court, leaving the appeals court out of the process.
The provision was a preemptive strike against efforts to tie up the development in protracted court battles. A flurry of court challenges that go through the appellate process would very likely stall the project during the 2018 election cycle. Such delays would make it easier for C.A.W. and others on the left to paint the project as a failure. And it would explain why Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling has already taken steps to question the constitutionality of the provision:
Nonpartisan attorneys for the Wisconsin Legislature are warning that portions of a newly signed law speeding up legal appeals related to a planned flat-screen display factory could be unconstitutional.
The analysis of the law passed for Foxconn Technology Group was prepared by attorneys for the Wisconsin Legislative Council on Tuesday at the request of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling.
The analysis, which didn’t reach any definitive legal conclusions, came a day after Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a $3 billion incentive package for Foxconn. The Taiwan-based electronics giant plans to invest up to $10 billion on a liquid crystal display screen factory in the southeastern part of the state that could employ 13,000 people.
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson stood by the law Wednesday.
“We believe this is a constitutional measure which will provide prompt resolution of disputes and prevent frivolous lawsuits from stone-walling thousands of good-paying jobs,” Evenson said.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is also confident that the law “will pass constitutional muster,” Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel’s spokesman Johnny Koremenos said in an email.
It’s likely that Democrats will make nullifying the fast track legal provision their priority. Killing it would be the judicial equivalent of getting one wish from a genie and asking for a thousand more wishes. With all legal challenges forced to grind slowly through the full appellate process, the Left will challenge virtually every component of the incentive package imaginable. They then will proclaim the bill hopelessly flawed constitutionally and therefore a failure.
Democrats can’t run against a Foxconn that is already a work in progress in 2018. If they can bog it down in legal challenges, they won’t have to. C.A.W’s Kraig called Foxconn “a scandal waiting to happen.” Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say a scandal waiting to be created.