Wisconsin Dems lose recall elections battle, but war not over
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 8/17/2011, 2:02 p.m.
Tuesday night saw the conclusion of the recall elections in Wisconsin. In the state's 22nd Senate District, Democratic Sen. Bob Wirch faced off against Republican Jonathan Steitz. In Wisconsin's 12th Senate District, it was Democratic Sen.
Jim Holperin against Republican Kim Simac. Both Democrats won this Tuesday, but the Republicans maintain a razor thin 17-16 majority in the state's upper house, at least for now.
Last week, Republican Wisconsin State Sen. Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke were in danger of losing their seats in recall elections. Kapanke and Hopper lost their seats, but Darling kept hers. Since Wisconsin started allowing recall elections over 80 years ago, only two Wisconsin lawmakers have ever been thrown out.
Nonetheless, Republican incumbents won the four other recall elections, thus Republicans will keep control of the Senate, governor's office and Assembly.
Last week, ABC News reported that about $30 million was spent by interest groups to help sway the Wisconsin recall elections in either direction. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Democracy for America interest groups have spent $1.5 million combined to push the needle of the Wisconsin recall elections in their direction.
Gov. Scott Walker's cuts to public workers' benefits helped ignite these recall elections. On Feb. 17, Wisconsin Democratic senators fled to Illinois to avoid voting on a bill that would curb collective bargaining rights of public workers and scale back benefits supposedly to balance the state's budget. The bill also asked public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions. Dems felt the bill would easily pass in a GOP-dominated state Senate. Walker and Republicans voted on the bill anyway and passed it while the Dems were out of state.
Back in June, the AmNews reported that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi had overstepped her authority when she said the state's conservative elected officials had violated open meeting statutes, as well as declaring Walker's law that stripped away unions' rights to collectively bargain void. After Walker signed his budget into law, Democrats started a petition to recall Republican senators and the governor. Republicans started a recall effort against Democratic senators in response.