published Thursday, August 11th, 2011

GOP holds off Democrats in Wisconsin recall

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is pictured in this file photo.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is pictured in this file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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MADISON, Wis. -- Republicans held onto control of the Wisconsin Senate on Tuesday, beating back four Democratic challengers in a recall election despite an intense political backlash against GOP support for Gov. Scott Walker's effort to curb public employees' union rights.

Fueled by millions of dollars from national labor groups, the attempt to remove GOP incumbents served as both a referendum on Walker's conservative revolution and could provide a new gauge of the public mood less than a year after Republicans made sweeping gains in this state and many others.

Two Democratic incumbents face recalls next week, but even if Democrats win those they will still be in the minority.

Turnout was strong in the morning and steady in the afternoon in communities such as Whitefish Bay, Menomonee Falls and Shorewood, where Sen. Alberta Darling was one of the four Republicans to hold onto her seat.

Tony Spencer, a 36-year-old laid-off carpenter from Shorewood, voted for Darling's challenger, Democratic state Rep. Sandy Pasch.

"I'm in a private union, so they haven't necessarily come after me," Spencer said. "But everybody should have the right to be in a union. I came out to stop all the union-bashing stuff."

John Gill, 45, of Menomonee Falls, voted for Darling and questioned the opposition's anti-GOP rhetoric, which went far beyond collective bargaining.

"This was all supposed to be about the workers' rights, so to speak. But that has not been brought up one time. It's all been misleading, the attack ads, things like that," Gill said. "The one reason they started this recall, they didn't bring up once."

Until this year, there had been only 20 attempts since 1913 to recall any of the nation's state lawmakers from office. Just 13 of the efforts were successful.

Also winning on Tuesday was Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, defeating incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke, who had been in the Senate since 2004. The other Republican ousted was first-term incumbent Sen. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, defeated by Democrat Jessica King, the former deputy mayor of Oshkosh.

Republican Sens. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, Rob Cowles of Allouez and Luther Olsen of Ripon all held onto their seats.

The stakes in Wisconsin were clearly much larger than control of the Senate. Democrats cast the recall results, in which they picked up two seats, as a rebuff of the Republican revolution started by Walker but it clearly wasn't all that they wanted. Both parties also were testing messages ahead of the 2012 presidential race, in which Wisconsin was expected to be an important swing state.

Republican and Democratic strategists were leery of reading too much into the results heading into next year's campaign.

The recall effort helped stir passions in the Democratic base "in ways we might never have been able to achieve on our own," said Roy Temple, a Democratic political consultant with extensive experience in the Midwest. But, he said, that doesn't mean the recall can offer much more than hints about broader trends.

"Wisconsin was a swing state before, and it will be after," Temple said. "Maybe (the recall) is a sign of strong intensity, and that's not meaningless, but it's not predictive."

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the party was "all in" to win the races. A coalition of national unions spent millions on attack ads and other campaign activity to wrest seats from the Republicans. Conservative groups also spent millions.

It all amounted to a summer unlike any other in Wisconsin. More than $31 million was estimated to have been spent on the nine recall efforts, rivaling the $37 million spent on last year's governor's race.

"I feel that a lot of people didn't get their way, threw a crybaby fit and decided to have a recall. The majority of Wisconsin already voted," said 43-year-old Ross Birkigt of Menomonee Falls. "It's a shame that all of sudden this happens and that a lot of special-interest money gets poured into it. I'm kind getting sick of seeing this stuff on TV every single minute.

Republicans won control of both houses of the Legislature and the governor's office in the 2010 election just nine months ago.

The Legislature that had been approving Republican-backed bills in rapid succession would likely have ground to a halt if Democrats had won back the Senate. They would then have been able to block anything from passage without a bipartisan agreement.

Any newly elected senator will take office within 15 days, a brief window in which Republican Senate leaders could call a lame-duck session if they are about to lose control.

The races next Tuesday target Sens. Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie and Jim Holperin of Conover.


Associated Press writers Colin Fly in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Marilynn Marchione in Whitefish Bay, Wis., and Henry C. Jackson in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

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joneses said...

This is what Governor Scott Walker has done for the tax payers of the Great State of Wisconsin.

Among other things, the Legislature and Governor Walker have: Passed a state budget (2011 Act 32) on time, without tax increases, that leaves Wisconsin in the black for the first time in over a decade:

Turned a $3 billion deficit into a $300 million surplus Instituted the first permanent property tax cap in our state’s history Cut bonding (state borrowing) by nearly 20 percent Cut more than 1,000 government jobs, including 735 long-term vacancies Enacted sweeping business tax reforms that will save Wisconsin ’s job creators over $130 million a year when fully implemented.

Results:

In the first 6 months of 2011, Wisconsin showed job growth more than twice the national rate

The Budget Repair Bill (2011 Act 10) gave schools and other local governments the tools to control their budgets without sacrificing services:

MacIver Institute: Wisconsin Schools Already In Line to Save Hundreds of Millions of Dollars2; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Most state school districts dodge layoffs, cuts – some districts hiring new teachers for the upcoming academic year3.

Other Legislative Successes So Far:

Protected our votes by requiring a picture I.D. at the polls (2011 Act 23) Became the 49th U.S. state to recognize its citizens’ Second Amendment rights to carry concealed weapons (2011 Act 35) Created a commission on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse that has already reported a potential $260 million in savings (Executive Order) Limited manufacturer liability only to those products they actually produced (2011 Act 2) Created a state tax credit for Health Savings Accounts (2011 Act 1) Passed legislation requiring a 2/3 super majority vote to raise income or sales tax rates unless a statewide referendum supports the increases (2011 Act 9) Repealed higher auto insurance requirements enacted in the 2009 budget (2011 Act 14) Expanded the prohibition against tax money being used to subsidize abortion (2011 Act 32) Repealed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants (2011 Act 32) Repealed a mandate on local law enforcement to collect racial data during traffic stops (2011 Act 29) Expanded School Choice to Racine and potentially Green Bay (2011 Act 32) Required a successful drug test in order to receive unemployment benefits 2011 (2011 Act 32) Wisconsin paid off its $60 million debt owed to Minnesota under the former tax reciprocity agreement between the states (2011 Act 32) Wisconsin paid back the $200 million from Gov. Doyle’s unconstitutional raid of the Patients Compensation Fund (2011 Act 32)

Looking forward to the next six months!

Welfare Reform Reining in divisive Affirmative Action programs Giving Parents More Options in Education Growing jobs by reining in excessive regulation Tort reform Restoring Parents’ Rights

August 11, 2011 at 12:43 p.m.
EaTn said...

joneses...yeah, I bet folks will be lined up at the border to move there to reap all the glorious benefits the right-wingers have created.

August 11, 2011 at 1:11 p.m.
joneses said...

EaTN, That makes no sense.

August 11, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.
chet123 said...

LOL LOL JUST WHEN DID REPUBLICAN BECOME EXPERTS ON THE ECONOMY AND CREATIVE IN JOB MAKING....THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER

August 11, 2011 at 6:21 p.m.
joneses said...

Dummycrats spent a trillion dollars to stimulate job growth and the unemployment rate increased. Brilliant!

August 11, 2011 at 7:10 p.m.
brokentoe said...

joneses said... Dummycrats spent a trillion dollars to stimulate job growth and the unemployment rate increased. Brilliant!

Well, what did you expect from 8 years of Bush and his gang screw-ups? If 9/11 hadn't happened when it did the economy would have tanked much sooner and under Bush administration. 9/11 gave them time to pack up and place all the blame on someone else.

August 11, 2011 at 8:49 p.m.
joneses said...

Actually the economy started declining the last year of clinton as the dot com bubble popped. I still cannot believe you dummycrats are still blaming president Bush for obamas screw ups. Amazing

August 11, 2011 at 9 p.m.
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