Huffpost Politics
Jason Linkins Headshot

Don't Get Too Excited About The Possibility That Democrats May Retake The Wisconsin Senate

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Based upon the way polls are shaping up, it looks like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has a better-than-even shot at holding off tonight's gubernatorial recall attempt and Democratic hopeful Tom Barrett. But that's not the only thing that's technically at stake tonight in Wisconsin. Why, the Democrats could retake a majority in the state Senate, after all! Over at the Washington Post, Rachel Weiner says that the "more likely scenario" tonight is one where "Democrats lose the governor’s race but win control of the state Senate." Here's how she sets the stage:

Last summer, Democrats ran recall campaigns against six Republican state senators in response to the collective bargaining reforms championed by Walker and passed by the the GOP-controlled legislature. Two Republicans were unseated, so while Democrats failed to take over the state Senate, they narrowed the GOP majority from 19-14 to 17-16.

When they filed petitions to recall Walker himself last fall, Democrats also filed papers to recall another four state senators — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Sens. Pam Galloway, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard, (Galloway resigned earlier this year; Republican state Rep. Jerry Petrowski is running for her seat.)

They need only win one race to take control.

Weiner rates the races against Moulton and Wanggaard -- who are opposed by former state Rep. Kristin Dexter and former state Sen. John Lehman, respectively -- as the ripest pick-up opportunities for the Democrats. A third race, between Petrowski and state Rep. Donna Seidel (D), also has switch potential. As for the clean sweep, Weiner says it's an outside possibility: "Fitzgerald is likely safe given his heavily Republican district, although Lori Compas, his Democratic rival, has attracted a lot of media attention."

Weiner's Post colleague Greg Sargent says today that tonight's recall could end up being a "split decision," in which Democrats retake the state Senate and gain the power to "hobble Walker’s agenda." Well, not so fast. As HuffPost's John Celock explains, retaking the state Senate actually doesn't get the Democrats anything in the short term:

If Democrats retake the Senate with Walker remaining in the governor's mansion, the victory may be hollow. The state legislature has adjourned for the year and the Senate cannot return to Madison without the consent of the Republican-controlled Assembly, unless the governor calls them back. Half of the Senate faces voters in November. Democrats have said winning the majority in June can help with momentum for the November race.

It's kind of hard to hobble Walker's agenda when you're sitting at home, waiting for Walker or his Assembly allies to give you the chance to do so.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

Around the Web

Wisconsin recall election: Will Scott Walker survive?

Wisconsin recall highlights elections in 6 states

Wisconsin recall spotlight shines on Waukesha county clerk Kathy Nickolaus

Tonight: Wisconsin Recall

 
  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
Click for Full Results