Wisconsin is leading the way.
In all, Republicans now hold five of seven governorships in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Last year, they held two.
The story is the same for legislatures in those seven states. Republicans now hold power in six of the seven lower chambers of the legislature (called the House in some states and the Assembly in others) – up from one last year. They also hold five of the seven state Senates. Only Illinois has bucked the trend, with Democrats controlling the General Assembly and the Senate and Democrat Pat Quinn the governor.
Walker [Wisconsin's governer] was the first of the Midwest’s four new Republican governors to push for weakening collective bargaining. But Ohio and Michigan already have bills targeting unions in the works, too.
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In a time when large and tense demonstrations have become increasingly rare in America, the Wisconsin protests could provide an Egypt-like moment, says Norman Ornstein, a fellow at the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
"If there's a big tea party demonstration in Madison, we may see a direct clash, just as we had in the streets of Cairo," he says.
One protester's sign at the capitol said, "Impeach Scott Mubarak" – a direct reference to protests that led Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign last week.
As it gains momentum, the union protest movement is likely to draw in young social-justice activists, Obama supporters, and even religious groups who fight for the dispossessed, says Bruno.
Last night, in Madison, the state capital, there was a huge demonstration. The place went nuts when off-duty firefighters marched in support -- complete with bagpipes! Note that firefighters, along with police and state patrol, were specifically exempted from the legislation.
For another innovative ploy, the state's Democratic senators have fled the state to deny the legislature the necessary quorum to pass the bill. Creative.