In an unprecedented move in Wisconsin politics yesterday, there were six recall elections targeting Republican state senators. All of these recalls were in response to the punitive legislation passed by them (and signed into law by Governor Walker) to deny union rights to state workers. The results are in.
Out of the six, the Democrats took two
. They had hoped to take 3 to tip the control of the state Senate into Democratic hands. They were not able to achieve that goal. The were able, however, to narrow the margin to a point where it might be possible to sway a more moderate Republican to vote with the Democrats. Despite not reaching their goal, this will still have state Democrats claiming victory.
In retaliation for the recalls against Republicans, the Republicans decided to stage recalls against several Democratic state senators. One successfully defended his seat in a July 19th special election, two more face a recall election next week
. They are expected to prevail as well.
Some of the results last night went as expected. The 2nd and 10th districts were called fairly early, followed later by the 14th (which was neck-and-neck the whole night). The 32nd district was the first called for a Democrat, and the 18th was called a bit later. That left the 8th district, which was swinging back and forth as the results rolled in.
One of the last precincts to report in that district was managed by none other than Kathy Nickolaus, who has been implicated - though never convicted - of vote tampering (I've written about her previously
). There was speculation that she was holding back the results to see how many votes she'd need to deliver to ensure Republican Alberta Darling won, but those accusations were withdrawn
Before all the votes had been counted Tuesday night, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin accused Waukesha County clerk Kathy Nickolaus of tampering in the 8th State Senate District race between by "sitting on ballots."
"The race to determine control of the Wisconsin Senate has fallen in the hands of the Waukesha County clerk, who has already distinguished herself as incompetent, if not worse," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said in a statement.
"She is once more tampering with the results of a consequential election and in the next hours we will determine our next course of action. For now, Wisconsin should know that a dark cloud hangs over these important results."
About an hour later after issuing their first statement, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin retracted their accusation against Nickolaus.
"Though we believe that Sandy Pasch was able to battle Alberta Darling to a virtual tie, on her turf, we will not pursue questions of irregularities," Tate said in a statement. "Those heat-of-the-moment statements came in light of the uncertainties that arose from a recent election, known too well."
I am curious to learn of the details of when the results came from her county, and what they were exactly. How she still has a job there, I don't know.
Ultimately, these are short-lived gains. With the results of the 2010 census, the state has a requirement to redraw district lines. The Republicans did so, in a heavily gerrymandered way to favor themselves, and Governor Walker signed it into law
Federal judges in Milwaukee refused to take over the redistricting process in July, but a federal lawsuit alleging the new district boundaries are unconstitutional is still pending.
"The maps passed by the Legislature meet the objective criteria laid out by the courts including communities of interest, fair minority representation, and compact, contiguous districts," Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a brief statement.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate accused Walker of trying to distract attention away from the state Senate recall elections by waiting until Tuesday to sign the redistricting legislation.
"We know that Scott Walker wants to change the conversation - but seeking out news coverage in the last hours of the historic movement to turn back his agenda, and doing so to discuss his radical redistricting plan, is as galling as it is tacky," Tate said.
For now, Wisconsin democrats may be able to hold off any more radical (reactionary) change, but they are going to have to fight this battle again in a little over 12 months. It will be a presidential election, so the turnout may be better, but they are still battling on a tilted playing field with crooked refs calling the game.