Wisconsin GOP prevails in recall elections (updated)

It was close - the final race wasn't decided until after midnight by the narrowest of margins - but the GOP won 4 of 6 recall elections for the Wisconsin State Senate yesterday and will maintain their control of both chambers.


By keeping a majority in the Senate, Republicans retained their monopoly on state government because they also hold the Assembly and governor's office. Tuesday's elections narrowed their majority - at least for now - from 19-14 to a razor-thin 17-16.

Republicans may be able to gain back some of the losses next week, when two Democrats face recall elections.

Democrats had hoped to block the Republican agenda by taking control of the Senate in the recall elections, but the GOP should be able to continue to advance its agenda.

"I think it's a huge victory for us," said John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. "Voters gave us a mandate last fall. . . . They backed us up again (Tuesday). Voters told us loud and clear, 'Stay the course. Things are working.'"

But Democrats claimed victory for the two seats they captured from Republicans.

"We went on their turf and we won on Republican turf," said Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party. "We will not stop, we will not rest . . . until we recall (Gov.) Scott Walker."

An incredible $14 million was poured into Wisconsin by out of state sources, including national unions. Michelle Malkin points us to the Maciver Institute has a flow chart of where the Democrat's money came from. A total of $34 million was spent by both sides - on 8 senate races (two Democrats are facing recall elections next week). That comes close to the $37 million spent on the governor's race last fall.

Turnout was approaching levels seen last fall when the statehouse was being decided. That is astonishing for a mid-summer, off year, special election. It is a testament to the thousands of GOP volunteers that they were able to identify their voters and get them to the polls. In the end, as it always does, money and organization paid big dividends.

What is truly disheartening for the left about all this is the Democrats' attempt to change the outcome of an election that didn't go their way. Their attempt to recall Governor Walker is just another sign that when it comes to the purest expression of democracy, the Democrats can't handle it.

Recall elections are a terrible idea. The brainchild of progressive politicians like California's Hiram Johnson and Wisconsin reformer Robert LaFollette, recall elections, until today, had been used sparingly and usually because of malfeasance by a sitting politician.

But it was only a matter of time before someone would try and change the outcome of an election using the device.  And now that the precedent has been set, any unpopular legislation passed by either party will probably see a spate of recall attempts as we have just experienced. Those Republican senators weren't dishonest when they ran for office in 2010.  They told the voters exactly what they were going to do and the voters agreed with them.  It took a massive nationwide disinformation campaign by liberals and unions, exaggerating what the budget repair bill was doing, and spreading outright lies about its effect on unions to gin up outrage to motivate their supporters to sign petitions for the recall.

In the end, they failed by a narrow margin. And now Governor Walker, who told the voters exactly what he was going to do during the campaign, is facing a possible recall election because the left doesn't like his policies.

This abuse of the recall process must stop or Wisconsin voters should get rid of it.

Thomas Lifson adds:

Voters may well start punishing those who needlessly squander public resources on policy revenge recall efforts. The Wisconsin operation was an example  of unions throwing around their organizational and financial muscle. By a 2 to 1 margin, they failed, and burn ed up millions of dollars of members' involuntary dues.

Wisconsin stands as model for GOP reforms we can promise voters in 2012. America has turned against Big Labor, precisely because of such self-interested political thuggery as seen in the Badger State. Public employees more likely to die in office than get fired are seen rioting and defacing the State Capitol. In the aftermath, boards of education save millions and avoid teacher layoffs because a cozy insurance monopoly gets broken.

The GOP nominee must champion union reform, and use the events in Wisconsin as a teaching opportunity.

Next week's recall elections for 2 Democrats, if both lose, could serve as an object lesson for unions, that the recall weapon ought to be carefully wielded.