Republicans kept four state Senate seats, and retained control of state government, in hotly contested recall elections in Wisconsin yesterday.
The elections were triggered by the uproar over the state’s new collective bargaining law, which limits bargaining rights for state employees and requires them to pay more for benefits. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and Assembly, while Wisconsin has a Republican governor, Scott Walker.
Now, attention moves to two Democratic state Senate seats, which will be the subject of recall elections next week. Tuesday’s races saw high turnouts in the six districts where voters mounted challenges to their representatives. Democrats needed to win three of the seats in order to have a majority in the state Senate, and the expensive races attracted national attention from political writers and labor unions.
So far more than $35 million has been spent on the recall races, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks political money, the Journal-Sentinel said. 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.
Many analysts see the elections as a precursor of a statewide bid to recall Walker, which could take place in 2012.
The two Democratic victories mean that Republicans now hold just a 17-16 lead in the state Senate. But for Republican officials, that margin is still sufficient.
“I think it’s a huge victory for us,” said John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate.
Democrats, however, said they were pleased by the two victories.
But Democrats claimed victory for the two seats they captured from Republicans.
“We went on their turf and we won on Republican turf,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party. “We will not stop, we will not rest” until Walker is recalled.