Democrats Hang On To Wisconsin Senate Seats, Ending Recall Drama

The turmoil that enveloped Wisconsin politics since spring is over, at least for now.

Protests roiled the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison this winter.

Two Democratic state senators hung on to their seats in yesterday’s recall elections, leaving Republicans in control of state government. The senators, Jim Holperin of Conover, and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie, defeated Republican challengers.

The votes were last involving six state senate seats over the past two weeks. The recall elections came in the wake of Wisconsin’s controversial new law, pushed by its Republican Gov., Scott Walker, that strictly limits collective bargaining rights for state employees.

Republicans hold a 17-16 margin in the state senate, and have a majority in the state house as well as the governor’s chair.

An estimated $37 million was spent on ads during the recall campaigns, which followed a court challenge to the new law. Holperin and Wirch were among 14 Democrats who left Wisconsin rather than vote on the collective bargaining proposal.

In last week’s elections, Democrats gained two seats previously held by Republicans, but weren’t able wrest control of the state senate.

However,  the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “The narrower majority would make it tougher to win approval of controversial legislation, such as stricter abortion restrictions or tougher penalties for illegal immigrants.”

But it noted that Republicans this year have already achieved many of the top goals that they have pursued for years. “In addition to the collective bargaining changes, they approved significant cuts in state aid to schools and local governments; some tax cuts; the carrying of concealed weapons; requiring photo ID at the polls starting next year; and eliminating all taxpayer funding for political campaigns.”

Read Changing Gears’ Wisconsin coverage here.

Now that it’s over, what do you think Wisconsin says about the political climate in our region? Post your comments below.


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