Wisconsin GOP Majority Whittled Down To One Vote

Thousands of protesters jam the Wisconsin Capitol building

Thousands of protesters jam the Wisconsin Capitol building

Thousands of protesters jam the Wisconsin Capitol building In February

Wisconsin Republicans’ grip on the state’s Senate has been reduced to the smallest margin possible. One vote separates Democrats from Republicans in the state’s Senate after Tuesday’s recall elections. That margin could be widened again as two Democratic Senators face recall elections next week.

Anger over Republican backed laws that weakened unions and the way the laws were passed fueled the six recall elections on Tuesday. Democrats needed to win three of the seats to take control of the Senate. They won two.

Unofficial vote totals showed incumbent Republicans hanging on to their seats Surviving the recalls were Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills, Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, Senator Luther Olsen of Ripon and Senator Rob Cowles of Allouez.

Democrats Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse and Jessica King of Oshkosh defeated incumbent Republican Senator Dan Kapanke of LaCross and Senator Randy Hopper of Empire.

Despite the election being held in August, more votes were cast In the western Wisconsin race to recall Senator Harsdorf than were cast in that district for the Governor’s race in 2010.

More coverage including analysis from The Nation’s John Nichols and report on the Wisconsin turnout from The UpTake’s Sam Mayfield in Portage, Wisconsin.

These reports come to us through Democracy Now.


For analysis on the Wisconsin recall vote, we go to Madison to speak with John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine. Although Republicans hold onto a slim 17-to-16 majority after the election, Nichols says the Democrats’ pickup of two seats, coupled with the moderate stance of Republican State Sen. Dale Schultz, amounts to a new “pro-labor majority” in the Wisconsin State Senate. “Gov. Scott Walker took a hit last night,” Nichols says. “Even though Democrats didn’t win, progressive politics made a real advance.” Some $30 million was spent by outside groups on the Wisconsin recall. Looking forward to the 2012 national election, Nichols says the “biggest message out of Wisconsin from yesterday” is that “we’re going to see absolutely unprecedented amounts of money coming into our politics, and we’re going to have to ask ourselves a question: do we have a democracy, or do we have a dollar-ocracy?


Republicans have retained control of the Wisconsin State Senate following a series of historic recall elections organized in response to their support of Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting bill this spring. Democrats needed to win three of the six Republican seats up for grabs in order to gain a majority, but four incumbents prevailed. Independent video producer Sam Mayfield spoke with voters at polling stations in the contested districts of Republican State Senators Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen in southern Wisconsin. She filed this report for Democracy Now!

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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