Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wisconsin shuts barn door after horse bolts

...or rather, after wolf enters and marauds.

Not pretending to any in-depth knowledge of Wisconsin politics, but this strikes me as an important, under-reported part of last night's story. Lee Bergquist of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Democrats appeared to have assumed control of the state Senate with results posted early Wednesday showing former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine) defeating incumbent Van Wanggaard in a tight race.
Republicans held on to three other state Senate seats in Tuesday's recall voting. Democratic challengers lost recalls bids against Sens. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls.).

Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Stettin) was elected to fill the vacancy left by Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau), who resigned earlier this year after opponents gathered enough signatures to initiate a recall election.
All eyes Wednesday will be on the 21st District. Results posted early Wednesday showed Lehman with 36,255 votes to 35,476 for Wanggaard with 100% of precincts reporting. The margin of 779 could bring a recount.

In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller said:

"Tonight, Wisconsinites across the 21st Senate District elected a new State Senator. By electing a Democratic Senate, the people of Wisconsin have opened the door to responsible dialogue and if needed provide a bulwark against continued political extremism, and restored checks and balances to the Wisconsin Legislature. I look forward to working again with Senator-elect Lehman in the State Senate in the coming months."
There's going to be a recount, and in any case there's certainly no chance of undoing Walker's signature legislation, e.g., stripping the public unions of collective bargaining rights.  Sixteen of thirty three seats will be contested in November, and the Senate may not even convene before then.  But still... if the result holds, as Miller suggests, presumably Walker will be forced into protect-prior-accomplishments mode at least until next January.

In two recall rounds, Democrats picked off three Senate seats (barring recount reversal) and won control of the Senate. Then again, maybe 60% of Wisconsin voters (according to exit polls) are right and recalling elected officials for reasons other than corruption is a bad precedent (as Walker ads pounded home).

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