Recall Walker? Fine, but let's finish the job of taking back the State Senate | Wis.Community

Recall Walker? Fine, but let's finish the job of taking back the State Senate

In the wake of the Democrats' two-seat gain in the State Senate through the recall process, attention has shifted to whether and when to pursue the recall of Gov. Scott Walker. There's more talk about the "when" than the "whether." Many activists are motivated and champing at the bit to get started.

Strangely absent is any discussion about continuing to build on the Dem success to try to gain a majority in the State Senate, which now stands 17-16 Republican after the recent recalls, when the Wisconsin 14 became the Democratic 16.

The six Republicans that were targeted for recall this summer weren't chosen because they were necessarily the most vulnerable, although some fell into that category. They were chosen because they were eligible to be recalled, having last been elected in 2008.

Eleven other Republican state senators who won elections last November could not be recalled. The law says an official must have served at least one year before the date the recall petition is filed. Since Walker and the Republican class of 2010 took office on Jan. 3, the soonest petitions can be filed is in January 2011. But there is a 60-day period for circulating petitions once a recall committee is formed, so collecting signatures could begin in November with the filing in January.

Many of the 11 Republican senators are in safe districts; two of them didn't even have a Democratic opponent last year, and five more got from 60% to 75% of the vote and probably can't be touched.

But that leaves four that could potentially be within reach of a recall. All four are brand new state senators who unseated Democrats in November, when the GOP picked up those four seats and took control of the State Senate.  And all foour voted right down the line with Scott Walker's union-busting, draconian budget.

Last November's results in Wisconsin were part of a national tidal wave that swept many Dems out of office. But many voters, the polls say, are having buyer's remorse and would not vote the same way again, given another chance. Scott Walker was elected in 2010, but might not keep his job in a 2012 recall. The same is true of the new crop of Senate Republicans.

The GOP freshmen who could be vulnerable, and the percentage of the vote they got last November, when the roof fell in on Democrats across the country, are:

Pam Galloway, Wausau, 52.26%

Terry Moulton, Chippewa Falls, 54.2%

Leah Vukmir, Wauwatosa, 52.15%

Van Wangaard, Racine, 52.52%

There is only one Democrat from the class of 2010 who won a squeaker and could be a recall target: Kathleen Vinehout of Alma, who just squeaked by Ed Thompson by 400 votes. All of the other swing districts went to the Republicans, and the rest of the Dems appear safe.

Democrats only need to pick up one more seat to take over the State Senate and stop Walker's agenda. Surely this must be a priority.

In all likelihood, plans are quietly being laid to do just that. Let's hope that's the case. But they have gotten little or no attention, and all of the public conversation seems to be about a Walker recall, which is what prompted this thinking aloud.

Walker, understandably, says the voters are suffering from recall fatigue and have had enough.  Some newspapers also support that view. 

But the same issues that drove the recalls this month are still very much alive.  It might be a good time to take a break, since nothing can be done until November.  But it would be a mistake to give it all up now after having come this far.  Let's get the Senate, and Walker, too. 

Published

August 21, 2011 - 1:28pm

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