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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/05/12

Guests: Jon Erpenbach

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. I`m not going to get you to try to talk back to me. I know you can`t hear me -- Ed and a cast of thousands tonight in Wisconsin. What an impressive broadcast. What a room, man. All right. I want to thank you for staying with us for the next hour. Quietly obviously, it is election night. As of right now, as of 40 seconds ago, the polls have closed in the great state of Wisconsin. Of course, the epicenter of American political debate and American conflict since the last elections in 2010. At this hour with polls having just closed, in the gubernatorial recall, in the recall of Governor Scott Walker, the results that we`ve got in right now are these. NBC news is declaring the race too close to call. As we can see, we`ve got a grand total of zero percent in. We`re obviously going to be watching this. The important thing is the too close to call declaration from NBC as the precincts come in! Tonight, we will be on it, like white on rice. Also up for a recall tonight in Wisconsin is the state`s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch. Scott Walker is only the third governor in American history to face a recall as governor, three in American history. As far as I know, Rebecca Kleefisch is the first lieutenant governor to ever face a recall in, period. She faces Mahlon Mitchell, the Democrat in this case. He`s a Madison Wisconsin firefighter, considered to be a rising star in Democratic politics. Also in this race in the lieutenant governor`s recall race in Wisconsin, NBC News is calling this too close to call. Democrats have put four Republican state Senate seats up for recall. The highest profile one is the seat of this Senate president. It`s considered to be the most Republican district in the state of Wisconsin. A very, very conservative district. Republican Scott Fitzgerald is the Senate majority leader. He`s facts a long shot but spunky Democratic challenge from a first time political candidate named Lori Compas. Lori Campos, the Democrat here, Scott Fitzgerald, the incumbent Republican. As you can see, we`ve still got zero percent in, in this first of the four Senate recalls. Also, incumbent Republican State Senator Terry Moulton, another one of the Republican state senators facing a recall challenge tonight. The Democratic in that case is Kristen Dexter. She`s a former state Representative. One of the other Senate recalls is in district 21. The incumbent Republican here is the state senator Van Wanggaard, forgive me if I am mispronouncing that. I was working on it all the day. I need some help. He`s the best name in all of this mess. But I still have no confidence that I`m saying it correctly. Mr. Wanggaard, State Senator Wanggaard is facing a Democratic challenger named John Lehman. John Lehman used to hold this seat until 2010. He`s trying to win it back tonight. The last Senate recall is for a seat where the incumbent Republican quit, once she found out that her seat was going to be up for recall tonight. This is a very Republican district. Republicans are hoping to be able to hold on to that. It`s an open seat now because the Republican incumbent quit. Facing for it now will be the Democratic state representative named Donna Seidel, and a Republican state representative named Jerry Petrowski vying for that district 29 seat in Wisconsin. But, again, the big one here, the one that everybody is watching tonight is the governor`s race. This is the status right now between Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, that the Republican Party would like to make their poster child for Republican governance nationwide, and his challenger, Tom Barrett, from the Democratic Party, which would also like to make Scott Walker the poster child for Republican governance nationwide. We`re going to be watching these results very closely as they come in over the course of the night. I have no projection for you in terms of when we think we are going to get a final result. As you just saw right now, we`ve got a big zero percent in. But NBC News is able to characterize this race as too close to call, looking not at precincts that are in but exit poll data, and all of the other information available to the political unit here. In 2008, in the presidential race, in Wisconsin, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 14 points. In `08, it was not close. It was a Democratic blowout in Wisconsin. But then, just two years later, in 2010, in the same states, in that bright red year, voter turnout fell by 20 points. It fell disproportionately in Democratic districts. Republicans turned out again in 2010 for the next election but Democrats didn`t turn out. Almost a million fewer people voted compared to 2008 and Republicans just ran the board that year. They won the state assembly. They won the state senate, and Scott Walker won the governorship as well. Now, Scott Walker has said during the campaign that if he were elected governor, he would drive a hard bargain with public workers in Wisconsin, in terms of trying to achieve savings and balance the state`s budget. Once he got into office, though, it was a whole different thing. Public workers in the state pretty quickly agreed to every financial demand that Scott Walker made of them -- all the salary cuts, layoffs, furloughs, changes to pensions, health insurance contributions. All of the things that Scott Walker and the Republicans asked for that had a monetary value, the public workers said yes to. Governor Walker and the Republicans would not take yes for an answer. Governor Walker and the newly elected Republicans in Wisconsin were frankly after something bigger. The governor demanded that the public sector unions in the state give up their rights. Give up their union rights. They already made every financial concession. They already agreed to give up everything he asked them to give up. The only thing they did not agree to do was effectively commit suicide as an organization. The Republicans answer to that was, actually, we need you dead. It doesn`t matter what you`re offering in terms of concessions. What we want is for you to no longer exist. This is not what Scott Walker and the Republicans ran on. This is what they did once they got into office. Because this is not what they proclaimed they were going to do, they blindsided everybody. And the result was chaos. It was statewide chaos. Weekly protest began at the state capitol in Madison. They started with crowds of about 30,000 people, out stumping their feet to try to stay warm in the snow. That 30,000 people very quickly turned into 70,000 people just a few days later. And then 70,000 people turned into 100,000 people the week after that. These protests kept going on for weeks and then for months. The Democrats fled the state amid threats that the Republicans were going to deploy state troopers to drag them from their homes and forcibly bring them to the state capitol to force a quorum. Democrats fled beyond the reach of state patrol. They fled across state lines to Illinois and they stayed there for weeks. And even with no quorum, with the Democrats gone, with no quorum, with no apparent legal way to get it done, Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin in March of last year just did it any way. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) (CHANTING) STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD (R), WISCONSIN: At this time I would move to adopt -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman. FITZGERALD: As the conference. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. I have a question about open meetings rule being violated. You were not given two hours. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a violation of law. This is not just a rule. It`s the law. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adjourned. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a violation of the meetings law. It requires at least two hours. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have you done? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. (CROSSTALK) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s how they did it. By hook or by crook in an atmosphere of utter chaos and lawlessness usually the most civil of states, the Republicans did it. They pulled it off. They killed union rights, and Republicans across the country all of a sudden had a new brass ring to reach for. This is the chart that -- this is the chart that gives life meaning. This is at least a chart that gives life meaning to people that will have been engaged in this fight. It is certainly the chart that gives Republicans lives meaning in this fight. This chart is that this is the biggest outside spending groups in the last election. So, the 2010 election, these are the top outside spenders. Six of the top ten were given to the Republican side. They are corporate funded group, business interests. The top four of them, six of the top ten, the majority of the outside money in the 2010 elections going to the Republican side, all corporate money. The only three in the top ten that are giving to the other side, the only three giving to the Democrats are -- what do these three have in common? Oh, right. This is the key to everything for the Republicans. This is the brass ring, whole enchilada, big kahuna, end all deal. This is everything for them. The only thing Democrats have been able to come up with to compete with the big outside money on the corporate side that is all going to the Republicans, the only competition the Democrats offer the Republicans at all in terms of big money and campaigns is from the unions. And so, what happens if you kill the unions? If Republican can use policy at the state level to kill unions, there will no longer be two sides competing when it comes to big money in elections. It will be all Republican money, no matter who the candidates are, no matter what the election year is, no matter what the specific office is, Republicans will essentially be running unopposed forever all across the country. After the Scott Walker union stripping law was rammed through in Wisconsin in the midst of all that chaos, indeed, in Wisconsin, the unions immediately started to wither away. These are the changes in some of the biggest unions in Wisconsin that have taken place over the past year. The law has only been there for roughly a year. Look what it`s done already. This law is designed to make the unions go away because they strip union rights. It`s not just to directly hurt those people in those jobs, although it does that, but it`s to make sure Democrats can never compete again in elections. The right is ecstatic about this. They think about the possibility for long-term takeover. A documented $30 million has flowed to Scott Walker for his recall campaign. John Nichols at "The Nation" reporting today that it will probably be like $40 million in nationwide right wing money flowing to Scott Walker. You can just feel the right`s excitement about this, right? Go, man, go. This is the brass ring. Grab it. You`ve got to succeed. We want to do this all around the country. This is how we`re going to win permanently. This is what the money ended up looking like in this recall election in Wisconsin. This is to scale. The two circles there are to scale. On the left, that`s the overall amount of money that went to Scott Walker. The red part is the money he raised from out of state. Scott Walker is a nationwide cause celebre for the right, for obvious reason. The little circle, the tiny circle, the little mini me on the right, that`s the money Democrats were able to put up to try to compete. Now, of course, you see the red is a much smaller portion there. That`s the out of state money, it`s the red. The orange part of the circle, that`s in state money. The vast majority of money for the Democrats came from Wisconsin. But the overall relationship in the size of those two circles is the important thing in the bottom line. Democrats got out spent eight to one. And with that spending disadvantage and with the Democratic side having sustained the damage that they already sustained and they are continuing to sustain because of these policies, with the pro-Scott Walker side running ads starting at Christmastime and thanks to the recall calendar, the Democrats not even getting a candidate with a name until last month, up this cessopathian (ph) slope, the recall Scott Walker side has been trying to roll this very large boulder. And again, this is what we know so far about the results. Is the turnout in Wisconsin going to be like roughly 3 million people, which is what it was back in Barack Obama won the state? Or is it going to be like two million people like it was when Scott Walker and the Republicans won in the next election. From the exit polling today, we don`t know the absolute value is in terms of the turnout number. But we do know that the proportion of union households voting in Wisconsin is up from what it was in 2010. In 2010, it was 26 percent. It`s now gone up to 33 percent. That`s union households voting today. We also know that these are the presidential preferences of the people who turned out today in Wisconsin. If these electorate were the electorate that were voting for president today, President Obama would win by 12 points in Wisconsin. It is a large margin, but it`s a smaller margin than what he won by in 2008. The exit polls just tell us who is turning out to vote. They do not tell us how much people are voting. And everybody who`s been watching this race essentially says that the determining factor tonight is going to be turnout, turnout, turnout. We`re going to be watching the exit polls to understand who decided to vote today, but the big important number is going to be how many. And meanwhile, all we can tell you right now is that in the governor`s race, it is too close to call. Again, these are the latest results that we have right now from Wisconsin. Just 1 percent in, but the important thing is that NBC News is declaring this race too close to call. Polls just closed in Wisconsin at the top of the hour. We`re going to be watching this result obviously very closely all night long. This is the most important election in the country, in my opinion, until the presidential race in November. Stay tuned. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy election night! The polls in Wisconsin`s nationally watched recall election have been closed for 18 minutes. And right now, in the recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker, the results we`ve got in right now are these. As you can see -- a very meager 1 percent of the precincts in right now. NBC News is characterizing this race as too close to call. We`ll be watching the results as they come in, Of course, in the lieutenant governor race, still 1 percent. This is also being characterized as too close to call by NBC News. There`s also four state senate recall elections that we`ll be keeping an eye on. Bu at this point, 1 percent of precincts in. We do not have projections in terms of how late a night it`s going to be or how long a night it`s going to be before we`ve got something to say about results. Joining us now from Governor Scott Walker`s headquarters in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is NBC News correspondent Ron Allen. Ron, thanks very much for joining us. It`s nice to have you here. RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORESPONDENT: Nice to be here, Rachel. How are you? MADDOW: Great. Thank you. This is an exciting night. What is the Walker campaign communicating about the few results we`ve got tonight? Their response to what seems to be very high turnout today in Wisconsin. Where do they think they stand? ALLEN: They`re sounding confident. They think they are going to win. This room has been filling up. There are several hundred people here. But there are other indications it would be a very, very long night. They are cheering now just some numbers on the board that 1 percent number that we`ve been reporting that shows Scott Walker with a lead, but of course that doesn`t really mean anything at this early stage of the game. But it`s a very enthusiastic and excited crowd. They think that this is finally going to be the end of this and the beginning, if you will, for Scott Walker to really get down to business and this election will give him a mandate to continue the reforms he`s been trying to carry out. Also optimism on the Democratic side as well because of the high turnout numbers. Traditionally, that tends to favor a Democratic candidate. But here, this state has been so politicized and polarized that it`s really hard to know how that`s going to affect things. I`ve been struck by how people here talk about how tired they are of all this campaigning. There`s been a perpetual campaign for the last 14 months or so. There have been seven elections during that time period. People are tired of voting. They feel that things are in state of paralysis. But they want to get down to business. So, there`s a lot of anger, a lot of disgust, a lot of feeling of frustration that their state has been tarnished by this whole operation. But at this point the partisans on both sides want to get down to business. They want to give their vote out today, and they want to see their guy win and both sides are very confident. Every indication, it`s going to down to the wire -- Rachel. MADDOW: Absolutely. NBC News correspondent Ron Allen at Governor Walker`s headquarters - Ron, keep us apprised of what looks to be a very long night wind down tonight. Thanks very much, Ron. Now, we`re going to go to Democratic campaign headquarters for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. He`s the challenger to Scott Walker. Mayor Barrett`s headquarters are in Milwaukee. And we`re joined from there by NBC`s campaign imbed Alex Moe. Alex, I know this is not your favorite thing in the world to do but we desperately wanted to talk to you from Barrett headquarters. Thanks for joining us. ALEX MOE, NBC NEWS CORRESSPONDENT: Thanks, Rachel, for having me. MADDOW: What is the Barrett campaign telling you about their expectations tonight? We just heard from Ron Allen over at Walker headquarters. He said they`re confident. They think they`re going to win. What are you hearing from the Barrett side? MOE: Well, actually, we`re hearing the exact same thing that Ron Allen just reported, the Barrett folks are very confident. They said that the momentum has been with them the past few days. And that the mayor really feels like he has a shot at winning this. He was out all day today across the state campaigning. He voted, meeting with folks. And they think that the exits they have seen show a close race. They know it`s going to be a long night. They really think that they can take this. And one thing they told me is that they will not speak. Mayor Barrett will not speak until this race is called. There`s no word yet on a recount. But all I can say is from the folks I`ve been talking to in Wisconsin the past couple of days, they are really ready for this race to be over and for them to get back to work and the mayor`s staff feels like he has it in the bag. MADDOW: In terms of that prospect of a recount, it`s been one of interesting sort of partisan things to watch today, is that the folks on the Walker side are not talking about a recount at all. The folks on the Barrett side, Democratic side have been raising this prospect that if it`s close enough there`s going to be a recount, they want people to know they are prepared. That they`ve got lawyers available, that they are prepared to fight for this recount if that happens. Do you get the sense that`s just to reassure that Barrett would be Democrat who fights in case it comes down to that, or are they really legitimately expecting that this is going to be close enough that there will be a recount? MOE: I think anything is possible in this case. It`s been going on for a very long time. Barrett has been fighting very aggressively in this state to win this. But, you know, it doesn`t really sound, the mood is they are not talking about a recount. They are confident they are going to win tonight. And, you know, we will have to see if a recount is even necessary. But from a supporter`s perspective and some of the campaign folks I`ve been talking to, they are just really hopeful that tonight is going to be their night. MADDOW: NBC`s campaign imbed Alex Moe in Mayor Tom Barrett`s headquarters in Milwaukee -- Alex, please keep us posted tonight. You are in one of the most exciting places tonight. Thanks for being with us. MOE: Thank you. MADDOW: You know, I got to say this Wisconsin thing, we all know it`s got national implications in terms policy. We know it`s got implications of people projecting ahead to the November race. But one of things that is really cool about it in a totally non-partisan way is how you see people are excited on both sides. And yes, sometimes that looks like discord and, yes, sometimes that looks like people being frustrated that they have to talk about politics when they rather be talking about something else. But there`s legitimate investment in this Democratic process in a way you cannot deny and you can`t deny is really American and really small-d democratic. And what`s happening in Wisconsin, they may have voted seven times in 14 months or whatever it was that Ron said, but they`ve been voting every time. And it looks like tonight, they may be voting in record numbers. They`re into it. We`re all supposed to be into it. It`s awesome. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is Election Day and yes, that means Wisconsin today. But it also means New Jersey and Montana and New Mexico and South Dakota and Iowa and California. In California, voters will be deciding tonight whether to add a buck to the cost of a pack of cigarette. A new secret tax that would raise money for cancer research. Now, California already has the second lowest smoking rate in the nation. And the last time California raise tax on smokes was by a voter referendum 14 years ago. But this year, a $50 million campaign by big tobacco has been doing its big dollar magic to change voters mind on this subject. Support for the new cigarette tax has dropped 14 points in California in the last couple of months since the tobacco company advertising onslaught has really geared up. Over in Montana, you may remember this state attorney general who we had on the show the other day about his fight against Citizens United -- a fight that`s going to the United States Supreme Court. He, Steve Bullock, the Democratic attorney general of Montana, is considered likely to win the Democratic primary for Montana governor tonight. But Republicans are going to have to be deciding tonight who to pick to run against him. Polls close there at the top of the hour in Montana. Montana, and interesting case. It`s a read state that`s happy with its blue governor, its Democratic Governor Bryan Schweitzer. Steve Bullock running to succeed as the state`s next Democratic governor. In New Jersey, it is Democratic congressman versus Democratic congressman tonight, as redistricting means that only Congressman Bill Pascrell or Congressman Steve Rothman can survive. They are both Democrats. They are both incumbents and the district they are fighting over is considered to be a safe Democratic district. Polls closed in New Jersey at 8:00 p.m. In terms of the results that we got in I can give you precisely nothing. Whether or not it was determinative, we`ll never know. But one thing very interesting about this race between two Democratic incumbent congressmen is that this was kind of a proxy rematch of the Obama versus Hillary Clinton Democratic primary race from 2008. Former President Bill Clinton came out and very actively supported one side in this primary, supported Bill Pascrell, since Pascrell supported Hillary Clinton in the `08 Democratic primary. President Obama, on the other hand, supported in a more low key way, the other guy, Steve Rothman because he supported Obama in the `08 primaries. So, this is a bit of a proxy contest. We`ll be watching for the results tonight in New Jersey. The overall, though, the overall wackiest and least predictable thing going on in politics today is not happening in that race. It`s not happening in any of the other states that are voting. It`s not happening in Wisconsin. The wackiest and most unpredictable going on right now is in California. Check this out, if Wisconsin was also not happening the same day, this would have been the politics story that everybody was fixated on for the last few months. It is Dianne Feinstein`s race. As you know, Dianne Feinstein is the senior Democratic senator from California. She`s the incumbent. She`s running for re-election. Now, it sounds kind of normal, right? But I want you to look at the ballot that she is running on. California changed its rules, so in a race like this, these scrolling names, this is the ballot. In the new way that California is doing this, there isn`t a Democratic primary and a Republican primary anymore and the winner of each of those primaries run in the general election in November. The new way California is doing it is that everybody, all of these names you see scrolling by, everybody runs in the same primary. It doesn`t matter what party you`re in or if you`re the incumbent or anything else, everybody runs all at once. The top two finisher, whoever they are, then run against each other in the general election. So, you could have two Democrats running against each other in the general. And presumably, Dianne Feinstein has a pretty good shot at being one of two top finishes, right? But who will she run against. I mean, there are 23 other people on the ballot tonight in California. It could end up being a general election in the fall between the Democratic candidate, Senator Feinstein, versus one of the peace and freedom party people who is running. It could be Dianne Feinstein against another Democrat. I mean, the thing is, none of the 23 other people on the ballot have made any sort of splash at all. None of them have made much on an impression. One of them has to end up on the ballot with Feinstein, but none of them have any name recognition at all. The closest thing that any of them have to name recognition is -- oh my God, it`s Orly Taitz. Orly Taitz is actually a famous person. She is famous for being the (INAUDIBLE) birther dentist who has spent the whole Obama presidency, leading the charge on the birth certificate thing. Because of that said sideshow reputation, she happens to be the only person on the ballot in California other than Dianne Feinstein with any name recognition at all. In this new everybody all at once primary that they are trying out in California, that means -- well, as the "San Francisco Chronicle" put it this week, I`ll let them do the talking. "A novel California primary was intended to produce moderates. But in California`s U.S. Senate race, it could yield a challenger who claims president was born in Kenya. Polls taken by robocalls show Dianne Feinstein with a wide lead, trailed by strange assortment of single digit rivals, in some cases led by Orly Taitz." So, dude, it could happen. The Republican Senate candidate in the most populous state in the country really could be the dentist birther queen. I say this, a, because it`s true. But also because I want to assure the great state of Wisconsin, I want to assure all my friends in Wisconsin that as the intensity in your state reaches it acme today, as crazy as your politics become, Wisconsin, I mean it when I tell you, you`re not the craziest. You may not be the craziest things in politics today specifically. Wisconsin, take comfort, nothing as weird as Orly Taitz is happening in Wisconsin. But something is happening in Wisconsin, in the Wisconsin`s governor`s recall tonight, we`re watching these results come in, 8 percent in right now. NBC News is characterizing the race as too close to call. Right now, it`s 59-41, Scott Walker leading Tom Barrett. But again, that is just 8 percent in. And again, to NBC`s projection, this race is too close to call. Joining us now is Jon Erpenbach, he`s a Democratic Wisconsin state senator who has joined us many times the over the last year that this has been going on, to help understand that state. Senator, it`s a pleasure to have you again. Thank you for being here. STATE SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Is it any comfort to you that Wisconsin could be construed as only the second craziest set of politics in the country after Orly Taitz in California? ERPENBACH: Yes, that makes me feel a lot better, thanks. MADDOW: You know, listen, today, on the one hand, I have to ask you, the reports of potentially record turnout have to feel like a good sign for your side, for the Democratic side. On the other hand, we have heard that turnout was so high in some parts of the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee that they may have run out of ballots. They may have run out of voter registration forms for people wanting to register and vote on the same day. Are you concerned about any of that having an overall affect on the tally tonight? ERPENBACH: We are concerned, obviously. But I think people that made the effort to get out and leave work early and get out of the house and go vote, I think they will stay in line until the ballot show up. They`re going to cast their ballot for who they vote for. Hopefully, it`s Tom Barrett. But, yes, I think if people make the effort to go there and they run out of ballot, I think that gives them further result until the ballot show up until they can vote. MADDOW: We should say, just as a matter of Wisconsin state law, if you`re at the end of a line, even a basic long line when the polls close at 8:00 p.m. local time in Wisconsin, 9:00 East Coast time, if you were in line when the polls closed, they have to let you vote. They can`t close the door in your face just because the line was long when you got there. Do you have an overall sense of -- Senator Erpenbach, do you have an overall sense of whether or not we`ll see a split decision tonight? Whether or not we might see, for example, the governor`s race and lieutenant governor`s race go to two different parties. Whether we might see the Senate go to the Democrats and the governorship go one way. Or do you think people pretty much are going to vote straight ticket today? ERPENBACH: I think people are going to vote straight ticket because the Democrats care deeply about Tom Barrett and Mahlon Mitchell. I don`t think there`ll be a crossover on that part. I think the Republicans resolve is just as strong. So, I don`t think we`ll see any crossover at all. MADDOW: In terms of the union household vote, one of the things that we have seen in our exit polls is that the proportion of union households in the electorate is up in 2010. But you know, union house holds don`t uniformly vote Democratic. They vote more Democratic than Republican. But they`re overall proportion is up. Do you think that`s going to end up being a key issue in this race? Did the collective bargaining issue and the union rights issue end up being something that was really determinative for whether or not people turned out? ERPENBACH: I think so. I think in 2010, there were more union households. I can`t remember what the number was that did support Scott Walker at the time. But you`re seeing the union household up about 6 percent. So, that`s good news. I do think a lot of more union household will be supporting Tom Barrett this time around than the last time. So, for us, for our side, for the Democrats, that is really good news. MADDOW: Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach -- thank you for talking with us tonight. I have a feeling it`s going to be a very late night. We`ll be in touch. ERPENBACH: All right. Rachel, sounds good. MADDOW: Thanks very much. All right. There`s plenty of other important non-Wisconsin story in tonight`s news, which we`re going to be getting to, coming up, including the one about the Adolph Hitler paintings in Texas and how that`s factoring in the presidential race? Yes, Hitler, painting, sexist. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On a day like this in politics, the one giant story in politics tends to suck all the oxygen out of the room, tends to monopolize all the news coverage. But that does not mean there`s other news going on. And today, in particular, even the other politics news outside Wisconsin has been amazing. Like for example, the prospect of Orly Taitz, the amazing birther dentist ending up as the possible Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in California. And like, for example, Mitt Romney doing a high dollar fund-raiser in the mansion in Texas that displays paintings by Adolph Hitler. Seriously. Not kidding. We`ll have details on that in a second. But this was just overall a news day that would not quit. On national security terms, after about a day worth of very tentative speculation that it might have happened but there was no confirmation, finally, today the White House did confirm the death of one of the last people in al Qaeda who is a big enough deal to have major press profile in the West. American officials are confirming that this death came as a result of this week`s American drone strike in Pakistan. Here is "The New York Times" profiling him as al Qaeda`s rising leader in 2008. Here is "Foreign Policy" magazine profiling him as the next bin Laden in 2009. And indeed, when Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago, the guy who has long been number two in the organization under bin Laden, Ayman al- Zawahiri, he rose to take bin Laden`s place as al Qaeda`s top guy. So, after Zawahiri moved up from number two to be the top guy in the organization, who was going to replace Zawahiri? Who moved up into Zawahiri`s place to be number two? It was this guy. The guy the White House says today that the United States has just killed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can tell you that our intelligence community has intelligence that leads to believe that al Qaeda`s number two leader al-Libi is dead. I can`t get into details about how his death was brought about, but I can tell you that he served as al Qaeda`s general manager responsible for overseeing the groups day-to-day operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan and he managed outreach to al Qaeda`s regional affiliates. There`s now clear successor to take on the breadth of his responsibilities. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, the caveat here is that this is not the first time that this guy has been reported dead. But if in fact the intelligence is borne out and they did kill al-Libi, the second in command, the operational chief of the whole organization, then it`s not overstating the case to call this announcement today a major blow against al Qaeda. This one is a big deal. Also today in Washington, a majority of U.S. senators, 52 U.S. senators recorded yes votes today concerning the Paycheck Fairness Act. This is the bill that would extend protections to women who are paid less than men for performing the same work. Fifty-two senators voted yes today. And in a normal world, 52 out of the hundred equals a majority, which means you win. But, of course, in the United States Senate, the minority Republicans have instead filibustered everything. So, even though the Democrats got a majority to vote for this, the Republicans still blocked it with a filibuster. President Obama released a statement on it this afternoon calling today`s vote, quote, "Incredibly disappointing that in this make or break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families. Despite the progress that`s been made over the years, women continue to earn substantially less than men for performing the same work." It has been interesting to see Republicans try to not have the fight be about whether or not, not have the fight about how we can remedy the pay disparity between men and women. Republicans this year have just started denying that there`s any pay disparity whatsoever. The president bluntly stating that women earn substantially less than men for performing the same work, calling the factual question that Republicans have now moved into denying but also in pretty strong language, calling this a make or break moment, partisan politics, the president taking a very clear advocacy stand on this paycheck fairness bill. Mr. Obama`s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney is refusing to take a stand either way on this bill. Every Republican in the Senate voted against it today. Every Republican in the state voted against it including Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Scott Brown voted against paycheck fairness for women which should go over great in Massachusetts this fall. And while we`re also still waiting to here on the voter suppression situation in the state of Florida as we reported exclusively here on this show, on Thursday night, the Justice Department wrote to the state of Florida that night and demanded that they stop purging voters off the state`s voter rolls. The Justice Department said they have not asked for federal clearance under the Voting Rights Act to go ahead with the purge and they said the state might be violating the National Voter Registration Act by purging voters off the list too close to a federal election. That letter gave Florida until tomorrow to respond. The Justice Department wants them to stop the purge, but so far Republican officials from Florida including the state`s governor, Rick Scott, have not made any public noises to the effect that they will stop their purge in response to the Justice Departments demand. But depending on what the state does in the next 24 hours, this whole issue about Florida`s voter purge and this confrontation with the Justice Department over it, it`s going to become a very big deal. So, set your Google news alert on that. Lastly, what`s never likely to become a big deal because for some reasons Republicans never get in trouble for something like this even when Democrats do, what`s likely to never become a big deal but you should know what`s going on in American politics is this. This is where Mitt Romney is holding a super dollar fund-raiser tonight in Texas. You can`t go to this unless you give the Republican Party $50,000, or you bundle together $200,000 in donation. And if you`re the kind of person that can put hands on that kind of money for Republican purposes, you are the kind of person who can dine tonight at this mansion in Texas with Mitt Romney under two paintings by Adolph Hitler. Hitler`s paintings, European city scenes apparently and an also original signed copy of "Mein Kampf," the book signed by Hitler himself. Neat. They are among the items on display for the personal collection of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow. They are on display at his mansion in Highland Park where Mr. Romney will be hosting his richest donors tonight. The great Wayne Slater wrote about this today for "The Dallas Morning News." Now, of course, nobody is saying that Harlan Crow or Mitt Romney are celebrating Hitler, right? All they`re doing here is just eating dinner and raising money under the watchful eye of the Hitler paintings, alongside the other items in the collection from other famous people. Imagine what the right would do with that if it was President Obama making that decision instead of a Republican. Imagine. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The polls in Wisconsin and the governor`s recall race have been closed for just under an hour. Up until this point, NBC News has been characterizing the race as too close to call. But NBC News is now prepared to change its projection. NBC News is projecting that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has survived the recall challenge from his Democratic challenger, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee. Again, this is the NBC News characterization in this race. Governor Scott Walker, the projected winner, the survivor of the recall effort against him. This projection, this characterization is being made with 21 percent of the vote in. Of course, NBC comes up to these characterizations from information more than just the precincts that are reporting. They are also looking at exit poll data and other means open making their projections. But Scott Walker, according to NBC News, is holding on tonight in Wisconsin after this epic, epic recall fight. We`ll be joined in just a moment by my friend, Ed Schultz, who has been covering this race -- who has been covering this race in Wisconsin more intensely than anybody else in the country. Do we have -- going -- Ed, we`re not sure we can get you one. Ed, we`ve just been able to characterize this race as a win for Scott Walker. Governor Walker surviving this recall challenge in Wisconsin. I got to ask your reaction to somebody that`s covered this more closely than anybody else in the national media? ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Well, in many respects, it`s to be expected, considering how much money was thrown at this race. You know, NBC is calling it for Walker. OK, I think it`s awful close. There`s a lot of absentee ballots yet that are still out, and it`s going to be very, very close down to the wire. So, it`s disappointing, I know, if this is going to be the result to a lot of workers in this state. But certainly, it is not the end and it`s going to be an opportunity for the progressive movement to regroup nationally and understand exactly what they are up against. No question about it. It was a gallant effort buy Democrats and liberals and progressives in the state and workers to get out and do door-to-door. The canvassing was very intense. They felt like good. They feel like Tom Barrett had a really good final week. But Scott Walker, according to NBC News, has prevailed with 22 percent of the vote in. That`s the call right now. I know Milwaukee is going to have a big turnout and so is Madison. A fabulous turnout in both of those areas, but there you see it. Look, I don`t think you know, it`s -- you know, it`s damaging to the labor movement. No question about that. But it also sets a real clear message to what Democrats are going to be up against coming up in November and I think it sends a message to what kind of ground game is going to be needed to fight off the special-interest money that`s coming into a lot of races around the country where they are going to be outgunned financially. So it`s going to be a tough question. There`s no question about it. There are a lot of disappointed people. There were a lot of high hopes that this was going to turn around for the people of Wisconsin, the workers. But the question now is how aggressive is Walker going to get. He`s going to get a lot of national attention because of this. It would seem to me that the Republican Party is going to have to find a spot for him at the national convention and prop him up. I think the Romney campaign is going to be pointing to him as the agenda they`re going to want to follow. This, of course, is going to give a lot of talking points and momentum to the Ryan budget. And that`s going to make the hill a little bit higher for the Democrats to climb. But I don`t think this proverbial fight is over yet by any stretch of imagination. MADDOW: And, obviously, we`re still waiting on results in the lieutenant governor`s race. We`re still waiting on the results in the four Republican state senate recalls. The pod -- the possibility at this point of -- showing the board for lieutenant governor`s race. NBC is still characterizing that one as too close to call. There`s the possibility that the Democrats, if they win one of those state senate seats will actually win control of the state senate tonight in which case we`d be looking at divided government in Wisconsin, Scott Walker holding on to the governorship and the Republicans holding on to the state assembly, but the Democrats moving from the tide situation they got right now in the Senate, to taking over that body. Do you think that`s going to make a material difference in terms of policy in the state? SCHULTZ: Well, I know one thing. If the Democrats do over the Senate, winning one of those four Senate recall races, it will slow down the agenda and make Scott Walker talk a little bit, because the Democrats are bound and determined to make sure that there`s not going to be any more radical legislation coming through. They`re going to be able to probably fence off the "right to work" legislation that the Democrats think that Walker is going to show up with and the effort there. It is also going to slow down any kind of radical voting suppression laws that the Democrats have said that they are committed to stopping. So this is definitely going to slow down government in Wisconsin. There`s no question about that. But this is also an opportunity for the Republicans to gain a great deal of confidence, that when they outfund the opponent, it can make a difference. We`re looking at almost a $27 million advantage that Walker had over Tom Barrett. And this sets the template for the Republicans and certainly tells the right wing in this country that if they can outfund their opponent, they`ve got a real good shot as winning. Scott Walker could very well be indicted in the coming days. I mean, he`s definitely a challenged candidate. And this state does not have a surplus. They were able to get that message across to a lot of people to the point where you had national media figures saying that the state has a surplus. So a lot of fudging going on, so to speak and it`s really surprising but when you`ve got the money and you can buy the message, you can convince a lot of people that you`re on the right side of the issues. So it`s going to be really a fight for the Democrats here in November. No question about it. MADDOW: My friend, Ed Schultz, live in Wisconsin. Ed, I know you`ve got a live hour ahead and a lot to prep for. My friend, thanks for joining us with your initial thoughts. SCHULTZ: Well, there`s no embarrassment in the loss. There`s no question about that. this is a great night for democracy and the turnout was terrific and Americans ought to celebrate that. Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, Ed Schultz. I appreciate it, man. Joining us on the phone is State Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Democratic Wisconsin state senator who western speaking with earlier this hour. Senator Erpenbach, you`ve heard that NBC News has projected that the winner of the gubernatorial recall is Republican Governor Scott Walker that Mayor Barrett has fallen short. I`ve got to get your first reaction. ERPENBACH (voice-over): Well, my first reaction is I listened to a little bit to what Ed has to say. He`s right. Obviously, money makes a huge difference in this particular race. It was a sprint. It wasn`t your traditional race. When you come in and you dumped $30 million, or $40 million, $50 million in a race that lasts four weeks. And keep in mind. Scott Walker was running ads against Tom Barrett before Barrett was in the primary race way back when. So, the money made a difference. There`s no doubt about that. I`ll be curious to see what the final spread is on and what kind of message we should take away from that. MADDOW: In terms of the ground game, as they call it, one of the races I`ve been talking about this race and its importance, was the interweaving of the labor movement and its organizational capacity and the Democratic Party, in terms of getting out the vote, in terms of funding external big-dollar donations to the -- in campaigns, whether they`re presidential-year campaigns or mid-term year campaigns. Is there reason to worry about the Democratic side having the capacity to run get out the vote efforts that will be sufficient for the presidential race in November? ERPENBACH: I tried to make a point to a lot of people in Wisconsin that, you know, Governor Walker can get all the $500,000 checks that he wants. They come from people that don`t live here and can`t vote here. One vote for Tom Barrett or one vote for President Obama in November cancelled out that $500,000 contribution. So, the voting obviously matters. The ground game that the Democrats put together in Wisconsin was real and very grassroots. I spent the past weekends driving all over Wisconsin putting 1,400 miles on my car visiting these offices and these are real Wisconsinites. We`re very concerned about which direction our state is going. So, I would expect them to be in full force if not even stronger come November. MADDOW: State Senator Jon Erpenbach -- thank you for joining us tonight, sir. I imagine this will still be a long night as we wait for the state senate races to come in. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time. Joining us now from Governor Scott Walker`s headquarters in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is NBC News correspondent, Ron Allen. Ron, I`ve got to imagine with NBC News projecting that Governor Walker has won the race, that people are absolutely over the moon there? ALLEN: Yes, that`s putting it mildly, Rachel. There was a huge roar that went up a couple of minutes ago when the big winner box was checked. And people are just really sort save savoring the moment. Can I ask you? What are you thinking about? It must be very satisfying. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were wondering if maybe it was a mistake. ALLEN: It`s not a mistake. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it was very -- it came up on the screen really fast and everyone kind of went crazy but I don`t know, a lot of us have worked really hard for this. So it`s really exciting. ALLEN: Thank you very much and congratulations. How about you, sir? What are you thinking and feeling right now? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m very surprised that it happened so early? ALLEN: Yes. There were predictions it would be a great, long night. A lot of turnout? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We expected to take longer but we`re happy it`s done now, so, yes. ALLEN: Thanks very much. All right, Rachel, a little bit of sampling. You hear the chanting that will go on for a while and they`ll celebrate for a long time into the night. Happening a lot quicker than most people thought. So -- but the celebration is under way. MADDOW: Ron Allen at Scott Walker headquarters in Waukesha. Ron, thank you very much, I really appreciate your time tonight, man. We`re going to be back at midnight Eastern with more from Wisconsin. But recapping the news from this hour. NBC News has projected that the winner in the gubernatorial recall in Wisconsin is the incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. See you at midnight. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END