A little perspective on what happened in Tuesday recalls | WisCommunity

A little perspective on what happened in Tuesday recalls

FROM: Mike Tate, Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin
TO:     Wisconsin and national press and interested parties
DATE:  Wednesday, August 10, 2011
RE:      On GOP Turf, Dems Expose Vulnerability of Walker, Republicans

Tuesday’s historic Wisconsin recall elections showed just how vulnerable Republicans are in the November 2012 elections – and how vulnerable Gov. Walker is to a recall election himself.
Consider some of the significant Republican advantage in these recalls, and how rare recall elections are overall:

Never in the history of Wisconsin -- or the nation -- has a recall effort of this sheer size and scope ever been attempted. 

  • These 6 recalls represent more than 25% of the total recalls ever attempted in American history (there have been only 20 legislative recalls in US history prior to the 2011 Wisconsin recalls);
  • These 6 recalls double the record of number of recalls ever attempted in one legislative session (3 in California in 1995)

Only two senators in the entire history of Wisconsin have ever been recalled - and tonight Democrats doubled that number.

This was always difficult turf for Democrats to fight on.  In 5 of 6 of the districts, the Republicans voted for Walker in 2010 at a higher level than Walker’s statewide performance – and 2010 was a major GOP wave election year.
All six of these GOP senators won election or re-election to their senate seats in 2008 – a major Democratic surge year fueled by the Obama landslide in Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel observed on 8/9/11, “In short, five of the six districts in play Tuesday are clearly GOP-leaning in their makeup… Democrats are running “uphill” in five of the six elections Tuesday, trying to capture districts that are more Republican than the state as a whole in their partisan makeup.”
Given that reality, it’s obvious this was not the turf Democrats would have ever chosen to fight on.  In fact this was the only turf available to stand up now to Walker’s extreme, divisive agenda, -- because these were the only districts where GOP senators were eligible for a recall.
In each of these recall elections, Democrats also faced entrenched Republicans, all of them part of the elite GOP establishment:

  • In SD 2, Sen. Rob Cowles has been elected to the Legislature from his district since 1983 – nearly 30 years, and rarely faces real challenges.
  • In SD 8, Sen. Alberta Darling is a 20-year career politician who has been on the powerful, budget-writing Joint Finance Committee for 10 years. She is currently the co-chair of JFC.
  • In SD 10, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf is also on JFC, and has been elected to the Legislature from Western Wisconsin in 18 of the past 22 years.
  • In SD 14, Sen. Luther Olsen is also on JFC.  Olsen has never before in his career faced a Democratic opponent, and his district hasn’t elected a Democrat in more than 100 years.
  • In SD 18, Sen. Randy Hopper is also on JFC and had been mentioned by some conservative observers as potential gubernatorial material when he was first elected.
  • In SD 32, Sen. Kapanke was nearly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives against a popular Democratic incumbent just 10 months ago.

Despite these natural built-in GOP advantages, Democratic recall efforts in 2011 have been a great success.
The people of Wisconsin have successfully recalled 2 GOP senators -- as many as have ever been recalled in Wisconsin history.
We have taken another 4 to the brink – many Republicans who have never even faced a real opponent or serious challenge before because their districts are so safe for them.
The national Republican machine and the outside conservative special interests brought all of their forces to bear.  Even RNC Chair and Wisconsin native Reince Priebus said the national GOP establishment was “All In” on these recalls.
Democratic Senators have successfully defeated one recall challenge earlier this year, and are well-poised to successfully defeat the remaining two on Aug. 16.
GOP Vulnerabilities Exposed
Republicans will no doubt crow publicly that they have kept the senate majority, but they mask their fear for the future of their grip on power.  Make no mistake, privately they are breathing a heavy sigh of relief tonight in the East Wing, in Maple Bluff, and in Leader Fitzgerald’s office.
But new sweat is forming on their brow – because they know that while they may have eeked through while fighting on their own turf, in deep Republican red districts and counties, the rest of Wisconsin is an entirely different story.
If 180,000 Wisconsin citizens in GOP districts will come out in the dead of winter to force recalls, and take all 6 of those GOP senators to the brink, just imagine what lies waiting for these Republicans when the WHOLE STATE will have its voice heard.
If we can do ALL of this against entrenched Republicans on their own turf, imagine our success – for education, for jobs, for the middle class, for seniors, for working families, for health care, for students – when ALL of Wisconsin can have its voice heard on Gov. Walker’s extreme, divisive agenda.
The entire state of Wisconsin and the nation can rest assured that today we are not vanquished – but even more energized.  We are not discouraged, but even more galvanized.
Barely scraping by on their own turf is an incredible sign of weakness for Gov. Walker and Republicans.  The historic gains made tonight to restore balance and accountability to our state, and restore Wisconsin values, will continue when the entire state weighs-in on the November 2012 elections – and with the recall of Scott Walker himself.


August 10, 2011 - 8:52am