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Recalled Wisconsin Senator to Resign, Equalizing Partisan Numbers in State Senate

Pam Galloway, one of four recalled Wisconsin state Senators who face a recall election in June, will resign her position in a matter of days. This will bring the partisan split in the state Senate in Wisconsin to 16-16, meaning that Democrats could block any initiative from Republicans between now and the election. Galloway is resigning because of health issues in her family, according to Senate Majority Leader (for the time being) Scott Fitzgerald.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel adds that Galloway’s departure does not mean that a recall election will be avoided; it’s how they’ll pick her successor:

Fitzgerald said Galloway was resigning because of health issues in her family. He said he was confident she could have defeated Rep. Donna Seidel (D-Wausau), who was running against her in the recall election.

“It doesn’t change my plans,” Seidel said of Galloway’s planned resignation. “People really believe their concerns have not been addressed and their values have not been paid attention to. They want Wisconsin back.” […]

The recall election against Galloway would still move forward even though she would no longer occupy the seat, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections.

That election is preliminarily scheduled for May 8. If more than one candidate runs from one party, that election would become a primary and the general election would be on June 5.

Wisconsin recall elections work with a primary and general election structure anyway, so it will look similar to a special election for Galloway’s seat. The lack of an incumbent on the ballot could make it more difficult for Republicans to keep the seat, although it also could remove the stigma of having voted for the anti-union law, the impetus for the recalls. However, Fitzgerald said he would begin recruitment for a replacement with state Assemblymembers Jerry Petrowski and Mary Williams, both of whom themselves voted for the law. So there’s no advantage there.

Pam Galloway’s Senate seat is pretty swingy. It went 53-45 for Obama over McCain in 2008, after going 53-46 for Bush over Kerry in 2004. Galloway won her election in 2010 by 4.6%. It’s a more Democratic seat than that of Randy Hopper, the GOP Senator who was defeated in a recall election last summer.

The long march to regain control of the state Senate, then, has already succeeded for Democrats, and will be maintained if they pick up one seat on June 5. Governor Scott Walker will also face his recall election at that time.

UPDATE: Here’s the confirmation from Galloway:

Today I am announcing my retirement from the Wisconsin State Senate. After a great deal of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to put the needs of my family first. My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention. Unfortunately this situation is not compatible with fulfilling my obligations as State Senator or running for re-election at this time.

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David Dayen

David Dayen