MILWAUKEE – A Democratic state senator from Wisconsin easily survived a recall election Tuesday that gave voters their most direct opportunity yet to react to a Republican-backed law that stripped most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
Sen. Dave Hansen defeated Republican recall organizer David VanderLeest, collecting 66 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.
Hansen was the first of nine state senators set for recall elections to face voters amid the fallout from the bitter fight surrounding Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining plan, which attracted tens of thousands of protesters to the Wisconsin Capitol earlier this year. The other eight lawmakers – six Republicans and two Democrats – will face recall elections next month.
The stakes of the elections are high: If Democrats pick up a net of three seats, they’ll retake control of the state Senate and gain key momentum in their efforts to recall Walker next year.
The Republicans were targeted for supporting Walker’s proposal, which eventually passed the GOP-controlled Legislature and survived a court challenge. The three Democratic senators are being targeted because they and their 11 Democratic colleagues fled Wisconsin for three weeks to prevent a vote on the measure.