Wisconsin Democrats failed to win the three seats necessary to take control of the state Senate in recall elections Tuesday.
Democrats won only two of the six recall contests, which were sparked by dissatisfaction with laws passed by the legislature and Gov. Scott Walker that took away public sector workers’ collective bargaining rights.
Democrat Jennifer Shilling of LaCrosse beat incumbent Republican Dan Kapanke. And Jessica King of Oshkosh unseated Republican Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac. The rest of the challenged Republican incumbents — Sen. Robert Cowles, Sen. Alberta Darling, Sen. Luther Olsen and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf — retained their seats. Democratic lawmakers still face two recalls by Republicans next week.
Capital Times Associate Editor John Nichols said in an editorial that unseating two Republicans in Republican territory amounted to a victory for Democrats. The new 16-17 margin in the senate, he added, might not mean failure for Democrats because Republican Sen. Dale Schultz voted against Walker’s removal of public sector collective bargaining rights, and he could further ally himself with Democrats.
The recall contests were controversial and attracted millions of dollars in outside spending, with money coming from the union group We Are Wisconsin, as well as conservative groups like the Club for Growth Wisconsin and business groups.
It’s likely that the next step will be a recall of Walker himself, according to Milwaukee Public Radio. Walker opponents will need to gather 500,000 signatures starting in November, with a filing date in early January.