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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wisconsin Summer Recall Wrap-Up: Republicans Call This "Winning"

Walker as Charlie Sheen - 'Winning!'
I have to admit, I was prepared to be disappointed last night. After the last wave of Wisconsin recall elections, I was ready for at least one poll to be wrong and for dems to lose at least one seat. Turns out, all my preparations were for naught -- both Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch sailed to easy and comfortable wins. I'm not going to complain.

It's important to remember the rationale behind the recalls. For Republicans, it was their support of Gov. Walker's union-busting. But for Democrats, the recalls were about leaving the state to prevent a quorum for that union-busting. Wisconsin residents were supposed to be outraged that dems had gone "fleebagger" -- by conservatives' argument, leaving the state rather than doing their jobs. So, of the two rationales, one proved weak. After the smoke had cleared, not a single Democrat had been recalled.

While losing is being cast as winning by Republicans and the punditry (the GOP keeps their senate majority, albeit barely), it's important to note that this represents a shift in reasoning; a fact that's not lost on Wisconsin native John Nichols.

Wisconsin Democrats have won the last two of nine state Senate recall elections held over the course of the summer, meaning that the opponents of Governor Scott Walker's attacks on collective-bargaining rights have prevailed in the majority of recall elections and claimed the majority of votes cast in what many saw as a statewide referendum on Walker's policies.


If the recalls really were a referendum on Walker's agenda, then Walker clearly lost. Because, as Nichols points out, Democrats "claimed the majority of votes cast" in that referendum. Further, voters approved -- in every, single race -- of Democrats who left the state to deny that agenda.

And keeping their majority? That may not be much comfort to Republicans, as the debate has now been pulled back to the left toward the center.

That means that Democrat have narrowed the Republican advantage in the Wisconsin Senate to a razor-thin 17-16 split, which puts a moderate Republican senator who opposed Walker's assault on collective-bargaining rights in a position to work with Democrats to temper the extremes of the governor and his allies.

Republicans point out that the Democrats did not succeed in taking control of the state Senate, an ardent hope of the opposition party and its allies as their pursued their efforts to oust GOP senators in last week's recall voting in Republican districts across the state.

But the final tallies from a summer of recall elections confirm that the governor and his allies have suffered not just defeats in districts located in the north, south, east and west of the state but also a serious blow to their authority inside the state Capitol.

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

A few more GOP "wins" like this and Walker won't have any allies left in the Senate. And, if reports from Holperin's election headquarters last night are any indication, this is far from over.

Katie Rosenberg, via Twitter:

During Holperin's speech, the crowd was not chanting for him. They were chanting "Recall Walker."

We definitely need the GOP to "win" like this more often.


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