Wisconsin Recall: Democrat Seeks ‘Political Realignment’ in Rural District

Aug 9, 2011 1:32pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:

Voters in six Wisconsin state senate districts are deciding today whether their lawmakers should be recalled and replaced with Democrats.

On ABC’s Top Line political program today we talked to Fred Clark, the state representative running to replace State Senator Luther Olson in the 14th district.

Read more about the Wisconsin recall election and get both perspectives here.

This race is too close to call. I'll tell you I feel as good as I could feel. We have built a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. Right now everything depends on getting out that vote and every vote counts, so stay tuned, because it's going to be sometime tonight when we find out whether Wisconsin voters have really made a historic thing happen here,” Clark said.

Democrats are hoping that anger with Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican controlled legislature still smolders after the government shutdown earlier this year and the resulting budget that cut state spending and curbed union collective bargaining rights in the state.

“I don't seek to reverse everything that he's done, but what the recalls are – this is what the constitution in the state provides for – a way to resolve a historic conflict and a way to hold elected representatives accountable for their actions, and really what most voters have in mind when they go to the polls despite all the national focus on this is people who are voting today are asking the question, 'what should I ask of my elected representative and they should have a greater obligation to represent my interests when that conflicts with the governor with party leadership,'” Clark said.

Six state recall elections (and two more next week for Democrats who fled the state for a time earlier this year) may seem like a local issue, but Clark said lawmakers nationwide should take note.

“It's certainly a referendum on how we treat working people in a working state. It’s also a referendum on public schools and what the future of public education should be. It's a referendum on clean government. You know this state, Wisconsin, used to be known for bipartisanship and for kind of an open transparent process here in the state business, and we've seen that literally wiped away this year with a legislature that’s really been dominated by a very radical agenda and folks are taking stock and reevaluating their politics,” he said.

Clark said the race is too close to call, but if he is victorious – results are expected late Tuesday night – it would be historic for the 14th state senate district, which he said has not had a Democratic representative since the 1800s.

“We had to go to the historical society archives to go back through the old legislative blue books and we had go to go back to 1896 to find the last time a Democrat represented the 14th senate district here in central Wisconsin,” he said, describing the district as “as good of a slice of the rural Midwest as you'll find.”

What are people doing there other than voting?

“So this area is dominated by farm country, small towns, you know this is a time of year when people are bringing in that first crop of sweet corn going to the tractor pulls in the county fairs, and it's traditionally been a conservative country, but all of a sudden everybody in Wisconsin has a stake in what's happening, and this is where we're seeing a political realignment,” Clark said.

Whether the realignment occurs remains to be seen. Results are expected around 10 p.m. ET.

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