Wisconsin’s Recall Elections Preview 2012

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel there have only been 20 state recall elections in the U.S. since 1908.

Wisconsin has 9 recall elections this month! Six are against Republican state senate office holders and three against Democratic state senate office holders.

Why are these local recall elections so important to national politics? What are the results so far? What does this mean for the upcoming 2012 general elections?

Recall Results So Far

In the first recall election last week Democratic incumbent state senator Dave Hansen representing Green Bay handily won with 65% of the vote.

Yesterday six Republicans faced recalls. Four Republicans – Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, and Luther Olsen – won. Two Republicans – Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper – were defeated.

There is another recall election against two Democratic state senators next week but those are almost moot.

With last night’s votes Republicans retain control of the state senate in Wisconsin.

Of course, there are the usual charges of voter fraud being thrown around by the losers.

The Controversy

Wisconsin Protests, 2/17/2011, Photo: Peter Patau

The recalls are the fallout left over from a controversy over legislation locally called the Budget Repair Act that ultimately was signed into law as Wisconsin Act 10.

Last January newly elected Republican Governor, Scott Walker, proposed legislation to address a $3.6 billion projected budget shortfall in state revenues in his first few days in office.

Because federal “stimulus” funding propping up state governments ran out, most states had budget shortfalls to deal with this year. Wisconsin was no exception. Wisconsin state law requires passing a balanced budget, so cuts had to be made to balance the budget.

Walker’s legislation proposed closing the gap by making changes to collective bargaining, compensation and fringe benefits of unionized public employees.

That triggered national protests against it by labor unions at State Capitols all over the United States. Protesters camped inside Wisconsin’s state capitol rotunda for weeks.

Fourteen Democratic state senators physically left the state, hiding out, to prevent a vote on the bill where they would face certain defeat at the hands of a Republican majority.

Finally, in a parliamentary maneuver that is still being challenged in the courts, the bill was passed and signed into law.

It rated 24/7 news coverage for weeks on CNN and all the news outlets. It fomented political polarization over how to address debt problems at all levels of government.

Unfortunately, that polarization still dominates national politics today.


The Wisconsin recall elections are the first important referendum elections held since the Tea Party Movement gained national prominence in the 2010 mid-term elections last fall.

According to an ABC News report $30 million in outside money was poured into the recalls. That is a lotta moola! They are regarded as a bell weather to the 2012 elections.

Their importance is they test the national trend toward fiscal responsibility that was the clear mandate from the 2010 elections and thrust the Tea Party Movement into power.

For the 2012 elections, these recalls hold roughly the equivalent position that the election of Republican Scott Brown to replace Ted Kennedy held before the 2010 elections.

Brown’s election was a harbinger to the greatest swing in power from one party to another since 1938 when Democrats prevailed during The Depression.

This time conservative Republicans were bruised but staved off defeat.

If one or both Democratic state senators lose in their recall elections next week it’ll reaffirm the Tea Party Movement’s strength and spell more trouble for Democrats in 2012.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Aug 10, 2011, in 2012 Elections, Collective Bargaining, Election, Elections, Politics, Protests, Scott Walker, Tea Party, Tea Party Movement, Unions, Wisconsin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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