Wisconsin; Two Democratic wins not enough to tip balance


Two Democrats unseated Republicans in yesterday’s recall elections in Wisconsin, leaving Republicans with a 17-16 majority in the Senate. The recall elections were the product of last spring’s bitter legislative battle, which included Democratic senators leaving the state to prevent the Republicans’ ultimately successful efforts to pass what the Washington Post succinctly described as “an austerity budget that ended collective bargaining for public employees.” Here’s the line-up of wins and losses:

18th District – Democrat Jessica King (Oshkosh) defeated incumbent Randy Hopper (Empire)

32nd District – Democrat Jennifer Shilling (LaCrosse) defeated incumbent Senator Dan Kapanke (LaCrosse)

Four Republicans kept their seats:

2nd District – Incumbent Republican Rob Cowles (Allouez) defeated Nancy Nussbaum (DePere)

8th District – Incumbent Republican Alberta Darling (River Hills) defeated Democrat challenger Sandy Pasch (Whitefish Bay)

10th District – Incumbent Republican Sheila Harsdorf (River Falls) defeated Shelly Moore (River Falls)

14th District – Incumbent Republican Luther Olsen (Ripon) defeated Fred Clark (Baraboo)

Democratic Senators Jim Holperin (Conover) and Bob Wirch (Pleasant Prairie) face recall elections next week, and Democratic Senator Dave Hansen (Green Bay) easily won a recall election in July.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported high turnout levels and extremely high spending:

So far more than $35 million has been spent on the recall races, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political money. The spending on the nine races dwarfs the $19.3 million spent in last year’s 115 legislative races, and approaches the $37.4 million spent in the race for governor.

On August 8, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted the historic nature of the recall elections:

Since 1908, there have been 20 recorded state legislative recall elections held in the United States, according to one recall expert. Wisconsin is in the process of holding nine such elections in the space of a month.

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Election day reports from yesterday:

From The Uptake, 8/9/2011: What’s the recall election today in Wisconsin all about? A Governor overstepping his authority, unions being crushed, legislation that was crammed “down the throats” of the state, voter anger and all of the above.

[Scroll down for live blogging from Wisconsin via Netroots and CoverItLive.]

One apparently Democratic voter says Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is a “puppet”. Several apparently Republican voters say the recall election is “ridiculous” and “silly”.

Those type of strong opinions are driving record turnout in some Hudson, Wisconsin wards today. At stake in the six recall elections is control of the state’s Senate and possibly reversing the radical direction Wisconsin has taken against unions. Earlier this year the state passed a law that could essentially end unions for state workers. A few weeks later, recall petitions brought about today’s elections.

In the western Wisconsin town of Hudson, voters are deciding whether to keep Republican Sheila Harsdorf or elect her Democratic opponent Shelly Moore.

Voters who turned out agreed very little on their view of the election except that they were all tired of the commercials, phone calls and mail generated by the campaigns and other groups. Spending on just the Harsdorf recall election is estimated around $5 million dollars.

Moore’s workers say the election will be close. Moore handily won the primary over a “fake Democrat” Republicans put up to run against her. But her margin of victory was smaller than most of the other Democrats who won recall primaries.

What’s at state for voters isn’t just an election. Several mentioned they want to repudiate the corporate spending that has driven “movements” such as the Tea Party.

“I don’t want to live in a kingdom”, said one voter. “I want to live in a democracy.”

From Wisconsin bloggers via Netroots and CoverItLive: