Democratic Senators Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King won two of the contested seats in strongly Republican districts. However the Democrats needed to win three seats in order to gain control of the state Senate. The Republicans spent $8 million in Wisconsin’s 8th district to retain State Senator Alberta Darling’s seat, who was challenged by State Rep. Sandy Pasch, setting probably a nation-wide historic record on money spent for single state Senatorial race. The Democrats were heavily outspent in this seat, having raised for Pasch a little over $1 million, which typically would have been more than enough to successfully challenge the seat in Wisconsin.
Most disconcerting about this key race was that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus reported at about 11pm that their returns would be delayed for an hour or more. This is the same county and the same county clerk that six months ago found some 14,000 votes in the highly contested Supreme Court race, tipping the vote to allow GOP-backed Justice David Prosser to defeat Democrat-supported Amy Kloppenburg, who had previously been leading by 200 votes. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin had asked for a Department of Justice investigation for election irregularities concerning this county in the Supreme Court race.
The remaining two elections challenging the Democrats will occur on August 16. However, even if the Democrats win those seats, the Republicans will maintain control by one vote of the Senate. The Republicans are also the majority in the Wisconsin House of Representatives.
The recall bids grew out of this spring’s bitter fight over Republican Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union law stripping teachers, nurses and social workers of their collective bargaining rights. Walker who had led a fight to cut taxes of corporations, then cut not only teachers bargaining rights but cut state education funding resulting in closing some public schools and teachers’ pensions.