Wisconsin Recall: GOP Retains Senate Control

The GOP retained control of the Wisc. as Senate Republicans fended off a recall.

ByABC News
August 10, 2011, 2:53 AM

Aug. 10, 2011— -- Republicans retained majority control of the Wisconsin Senate in a recall election that was spurred by Republican Gov. Scott Walker's agenda of cutting unionized state workers' rights.

Four GOP state senators fended off recall votes, while Democrats picked up two seats in the recall election. The final race ended close to midnight when State Sen. Alberta Darling retained her seat, defeating Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch. Unofficial numbers had Darling with 54 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent going to Pasch.

Three other Republicans held onto their seats: Sen. Rob Cowles of Allouez and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, and Luther Olsen of Ripon. All three defeated their Democratic challengers based on unofficial results on Tuesday, according to ABC affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

Despite her party's failure to win control of Wisconsin state Senate, State Senator Lena Taylor, a Democrat, said the fact that so many people signed petitions for the recall is what matters.

"If we win two we've doubled what has happened in the state's history for recalling state Senators. So this is I think huge," she said Wednesday. "The people are speaking. And the people are saying, if nothing else, hundreds of thousands of people in Wisconsin have said that they are completely frustrated with what they've seen."

Democrats were able to successfully recall Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke, with Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse taking the seat. Early results had Shilling taking 55 percent of the vote compared with 45 percent for Kapanke.

Jessica King, 34, another Democrat, defeated Republican State Sen. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac. With all precincts reporting, King led Hopper 51 percent to 49 percent.

Two Democratic incumbents face recalls next week, but even if Democrats win those they will still be in the minority.

The recall election also helps to determine whether the Republican party in Wisconsin, led by Walker, will regain momentum or has suffered a major setback since it swept into power in 2010. Both republicans and Democrats were testing messages ahead of the 2012 presidential race, in which Wisconsin is expected to be an important swing state.

Outside groups poured millions of dollars into the state for television advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts. Democrats' goal was to take three of the seats to gain control of the state Senate from the Republicans, and also set the stage for similar collective bargaining and budget fights in other states.

The recall effort began in January when Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed at austerity and limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits by ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature left the state to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue flooded the state capital to protest or support Walker's move. After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall specific senators who were eligible.

Republicans responded in kind, saying Democrats abandoned their duty. Enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.