Republicans have retained their majority control of the Wisconsin Senate in a recall election that was galvanized by Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda to pass legislation that would strip 175,000 government workers of almost all of their collective bargaining rights.
Democrats ousted two Republican senators but fell short of the three victories they needed to capture a majority and with it the power to thwart legislation. The Republicans majority has been whittled down to – 17 to 16 – over Democrats in the state Senate.
Two Senate Democrats are also facing recall elections next week — one more chapter in the same collective bargaining rights fight — but given the results on Tuesday, those races now cannot affect which party controls the State Senate, the question that had always been the ultimate concern on both sides. If anything, Republicans could now increase their hold next week.
Democrats vowed to continue their efforts next year, and launch recall efforts against Gov. Walker himself, as well other Republican state senators who may be vulnerable after Tuesday night’s results.
Democrats and organized labor forced the recall elections, the largest ever group of recalls in United States history.
Activists in both parties, unions and conservative groups poured record amounts of money into Wisconsin’s recall races — an estimated $33 million.
Wisconsin was important for organized labor, which has seen their influence decline in recent years. Unions poured millions of dollars into the Wisconsin effort, and are also fighting to overturn an Ohio anti-union law in a referendum this November.
Wisconsin’s bitter political battle caught international attention earlier this year
after Democratic senators fled the state for three weeks in an attempt to stop Walker from passing the anti-labor bill.