MSNBC: Democrats fall short in Wisconsin recall elections

In massive battle of money and organizing, GOP state senators prevail in four of the six districts targeted by Democrats

-By Tom Curry

August 10, 2011- Democrats failed late Tuesday in their effort to gain control of the Wisconsin state senate as Republican incumbents won four of six recall elections.

The outcome was a big setback for Democrats, organized labor, and progressive groups who'd sought retribution against six GOPallies of Gov. Scott Walker, who earlier this year enacted a labor law overhaul that ended collective bargaining rights for many public sector workers.

The recall elections attracted millions of dollars of investment from both liberals and conservatives across the nation.

Most at risk as voting started Tuesday appeared to be three Republicans, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke, all of whom had barely won their races in 2008.

Kapanke and Hopper lost, but Darling won with 54 percent with most of the precincts counted, partly due to her outperforming her 2008 majority in heavily Republican Waukesha County.

In 2008, Darling had won her district by a mere 1,007 out of more than 99,000 votes cast. Her district went narrowly for Barack Obama in 2008.

Three other Republican lawmakers also survived the Democratic recall effort: Sen. Robert Cowles, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Sen. Luther Olsen.

With the split in Wisconsin’s Senate at 19 Republicans and 14 Democrats as the day began, a turnover of three would have changed party control.

Next Tuesday there will be recall elections for two Democratic senators, one of whom barely won in 2008.

While there's a risk of extrapolating too much from the relatively small number of people who voted in Wisconsin Tuesday, the outcome may give an inkling about party motivation and organizing ability as strategists ponder the 2012 election in what could be a pivotal state.

Obama won the state in 2008 with 56 percent, but George W. Bush nearly won Wisconsin in 2004, falling short by only 11,000 votes out of nearly three million votes cast.

Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina has identified the state as one of the targets for 2012.


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