After tens of millions of dollars spent by outside interest groups, dozens of attack ads and exhaustive get-out-the-vote efforts, Democrats on Tuesday fell short of their goal of taking control of the state Senate and stopping the agenda of Gov. Scott Walker.Meanwhile, two Democrat face recall next week, so it could well be back to a 19-14 majority for the GOP.
Republicans won four of six recall races, meaning the party still holds a narrow 17-16 majority in the Senate — at least until next week, when Sens. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, and Jim Holperin, D-Conover face their own recall elections. A third Democrat, Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, easily survived a recall attempt last month.
Sens. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, successfully defended their seats Tuesday.
Challengers state Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, and Jessica King unseated incumbent state Sens. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, and Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac.
Going into Tuesday, Republicans controlled the body 19-14, so Democrats needed to win at least three seats and hold onto two more next week to take over.
"The revolution has not occurred," said UW-Milwaukee political science professor Mordecai Lee, a former Democratic lawmaker. "The proletariat did not take over the streets."
In another blow to the losers, Governor Walker Tuesday signed redistricting legislation. Democrats hardest hit.
Democrats criticized Walker for signing the bill in private on the day of the recall votes.They're not handling defeat well.
"It is now clear that Gov. Walker signed these redistricting maps into law in a manner intended to hide his actions with only one goal in mind: giving himself and his fellow Republicans a monopoly on power in our state and dodging accountability for their anti-middle-class extremism," Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said in a statement.
"The people" were supposed to be on the side of the unions who protested at the state capitol when Walker's bill passed, limiting the unions' collective bargaining privileges against taxpayers and school districts. But it turns out that "the people" had other ideas. In the end, even a massive infusion of cash and union volunteers was not enough to deliver the three state Senate recall races the unions needed, despite the fact that President Obama carried all six of the seats in question in 2008.I'm surprised they haven't started rioting yet.
This marks the unions' third huge defeat in Wisconsin this year. The other two were the passage of Walker's bill and the re-election of David Prosser to the state Supreme Court. The grand talk of recalling Walker himself next year seems a bit blustery now, given the great failure of last night.