August 17, 2011 in Nation/World

Democrats keep Wisconsin seats

Party is plus two in 9 recall elections
Scott Bauer Associated Press
 

MADISON, Wis. – Two Democratic Wisconsin state senators targeted by Republicans survived their elections Tuesday, ending a tumultuous summer of recalls spurred by anger over how lawmakers reacted to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal curbing collective bargaining rights of public workers.

Democrats picked up two seats through the nine recalls but were unable to wrest majority Senate control away from the GOP.

The two senators facing recall Tuesday were among the 14 senators who fled the state in February in opposition to Walker’s proposal, which passed despite their absence and has been held up by the state Supreme Court.

Democratic Sen. Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie defeated Kenosha attorney Jonathan Steitz, and Sen. Jim Holperin of Conover beat tea party Republican Kim Simac of Eagle River.

A third Democrat won a recall election last month. Two Republicans were defeated in six recall elections last week.

Even though they remain in the minority, Democrats were savoring Tuesday’s victories.

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said Democrats have “fundamentally changed the face of power in the Wisconsin Legislature” through the recalls. Even though Republicans remain in the majority, Tate said Democrats’ picking up two seats and making gains in Republican districts sets the table for big wins next year.

“It’s really hard to go five for nine and not be pleased of the progress that we made,” he said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement that he was proud the GOP maintained its majority through the recalls. He said Tuesday’s results were a rejection of the recall process.

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