GOP and Buddies Spend Tens of Millions. Result: Wisconsin Senate Now In Democratic Control.
You all know the bad news from last night: Scott Walker won the recall, pretty much by the predicted margin, and no, turnout was not “recordbreaking” despite the media hype. But do you know the good news?
Scott Walker no longer has a lockstep legislature to do his bidding.
The Democrats just needed to win one of the elections held in Wisconsin last night to put a huge cramp in Walker’s style, and they did:
In a crucial election that swings control of the state Senate to the Democrats, Racine County appeared to have ousted current state Sen. Van Wanggaard Tuesday.
Former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine led state incumbent Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard, with 36,255 votes to Wanggaard’s 35,476 votes, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting.
Three Republicans won state Senate races Tuesday in Wisconsin, but with Lehman winning Racine County, the Democrats will take control of the Senate and gain the 17-16 majority.
And since the margin of victory is greater than 0.5%, the Republicans don’t get a free recount. So even though Wanggard hasn’t officially conceded yet, the writing’s on the wall: John Lehnman gets his old seat back.
As for why the other elections didn’t turn out for the Dems: People in Wisconsin were apparently, as was hinted at during the days before the election, sick of recall elections, particularly those they thought were being done not for gross and obvious malfeasance (as in ‘indictments already handed down’ malfeasance), but for purely political reasons. They had just had enough and wanted things to go back to ‘normal’. That’s why, as MSNBC and other TV networks kept reporting, the exit polling showed that 53% of those who voted to keep Walker were also Obama supporters. So this was not a bellwether on him, no matter how much the GOP wants to say it is.
Now, because the Republicans did some heavy gerrymandering for the upcoming elections (the gerrymandered boundaries didn’t count for the recalls), Lehman likely won’t keep it come 2014, and there are a few seats that the Republicans may or may not take in November, but from here on out, the Democrats won’t have to fight recall resentment in the populace in order to defend those seats. (And of course with the whiff of actual indictments in the air — indictments that may have been held back due to the prosecutors wanting to avoid being accused of ‘influencing the recall election” — Walker may turn into a boat anchor on the rest of the Wisconsin GOP come this November.)
In essence, we got the national Republicans to spend at least $40 million (and more like $100 million if we could count everything that all the billionaires secretly donated), $40 million that now can’t be spent on Mittens or GOP congressional/ Senate candidates, for an effort that cost the Dems a lot less — and which got Wisconsin a new Democratic-controlled Senate.
UPDATE: More on what I mean by “recall resentment”:
Sixty percent of Wisconsin voters in today’s recall election say recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct, according to early CBS News exit polls. Twenty-eight percent said they think they are suitable for any reason, while nine percent think they are never appropriate.
My Wisconsin friends had hinted this might happen: Essentially, a lot of them saw this second batch of recalls — which happened fifteen months after the first, when Walker’s betrayals were still fresh in everyone’s mind and people hadn’t got used to having him in power — as more political revenge/payback than a righteous effort to remove a guy unfit for office.