Democrats won two state Senate seats in Tuesday's historic recall elections, but failed to capture a third seat that would have given them control of the chamber.
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.
A few observations:
- A little advice to the Left, which won't take it -- go home, at least for a while. While Wisconsin remains closely divided politically, the 6-month tantrum that the Left has offered since Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill was first introduced has been increasingly ineffective. I suspect a lot of people who might have been willing to listen to the Democrats in a normal election cycle pulled the lever for Republicans, mostly to get the Left to shut the hell up. Not that they will, of course.
- As soon as I heard that turnout was heavy in these recall elections, it was evident that the Republicans were going to hold the Senate. The two districts that fell to the Democrats were special cases, especially Randy Hopper's district, because Hopper was caught cheating on his wife and that hurt his cause. Dan Kapanke, the state senator from the LaCrosse area who also lost, faced a tough race because his district historically has been solid for the Democrats.
- After watching the barrage of ads on television, I'm especially gratified that Sheila Harsdorf won her election easily. Shelly "WE! BREATHE! UNION!" Moore was one of the most obnoxious candidates I've seen in a long time.
One last thing: although I've praised the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel repeatedly for their excellent news coverage of the scene in Wisconsin this year, they deserve a hell of a lot of scorn for the incredibly gutless decision to run this editorial the day after the election:
So it turns out that the sky isn't going to fall on all local governments in Wisconsin. The numbers now starting to come in show that Gov. Scott Walker's "tools" for local governments apparently will help at least some of them deal with cuts in state aid imposed by the state budget.
That's contrary to the expectation and the rhetoric of critics in the spring, and it's to Walker's credit. It bears out the governor's assessment of his budget-repair bill, although we still maintain he could have reached his goals without dealing a body blow to public employee unions.
But the news is good for many. The latest example is Milwaukee, where the most recent estimates show the city with a net gain of at least $11 million for its 2012 budget. That will take a slice out of the city's structural deficit, which is created by costs rising faster than revenue, and will reduce cuts that Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council must impose.
The city projects it will save at least $25 million a year - the figure could be as high as $36 million in 2012 - from health care benefit and pension changes it didn't have to negotiate with unions because of the changes wrought by the new law that ended most collective bargaining for most public employees.
That certainly will help the city deal with the $14 million in cuts in state aid in the 2011-'13 state budget.
That's information the voters could have used, right? It kinda puts the lie to many of the claims we've heard from the Left, no? Well, no reason the electorate should know these things until after they've cast their ballots.