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Democrats Hope to Ride Wave of Momentum from First Recall Victory

But Republicans say incumbent Democrat's win in Green Bay area district means little in other recall races in Wisconsin.

State Democrats landed the first punch in the series of Wisconsin recall elections after state Sen. Dave Hansen easily defended his seat against Republican challenger David VanderLeest in the 30th Senate District in Green Bay.

While state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate and others are hailing the victory as a sign of things to come in the next month's recall elections, not everyone is buying the hype.

In an election where Democratic voter turnout surpassed that of the heated , Hansen posted a resounding victory, defeating VanderLeest by a 2-to-1 margin.

Democrats notch the score to 1-0 over Republicans with eight recall elections remaining throughout the state.

Tate said Tuesday’s results are a sign that momentum in the state is shifting to the blue side.

"Overall our historic recall movement, mocked by right-wing pundits, is surging," Tate said Wednesday. "Last night was the first step turning Wisconsin back toward the values it has pursued before."

GOP says one race is not a trend

However, state Republicans aren’t convinced Hansen’s victory is cause to worry about the remaining six seats held by GOP incumbents.

"It should come as no surprise that a single Democrat senator was able to cling to his seat after drastically outspending his opponent," said Katie McCallum, a spokeswoman for the state Republican Party.  "Senator Hansen and his liberal special interests spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hang on to the 30th Senate District after he abandoned his constituents and fled to Illinois."

McCallum added the party is confident the GOP will keep its hold on the remaining seats.

"The Republican majority in our state Senate remains unchanged after Tuesday's results, and it will remain strong after the recall elections are completed next month," she said.

Some have contended that Hansen’s victory Tuesday — though resounding — was a bit watered down.

VanderLeest was facing personal and legal troubles, and was the Republican’s second choice to Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), who failed to submit the 400 signatures to run in the recall.

However, Tate said the victory was sent a message nonetheless.

“I don’t think we should dismiss a Democrat racking up such a huge win as a fluke, or something we shouldn’t look into,” he said. “We didn’t just beat VanderLeest — we crushed him. The people of Wisconsin are responding.”

Will momentum carry over to the 8th District?

Though Democrats may have reason to tout an early victory on Tuesday, only time will tell if they will repeat in the , where Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) will attempt to defend her seat against Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay).

A poll released by the Democratic party last week showed Darling and Pasch in a . Pasch has the slight edge with 47 percent of the vote to Darling’s 46 percent.

Democratic strategist John Kraus said the recent poll indicates support in Darling’s district may be waning, and the tide of momentum may very well wash ashore in the 8th District on Aug. 9.

“There’s no question that the Democratic base is highly energized and they have been for the whole year. Pasch has definitely made this a race, based on the latest poll,” Kraus said. “I think we are starting to see act that Republicans not only lack the type of energy the Democrats have, that they may in fact be on the wrong side of the issues.”

Kraus said Darling’s position as leader of the Joint Finance Committee has put her in the forefront as the “cheerleader” of Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda, and will eventually cost her.

Her support of deep cuts to school funding is causing her support to wane in a district that puts a high investment in public education, said Kraus, who was active in the campaigns of former Gov. Jim Doyle and former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

Republican party leader says Darling is safe

If that blue “tide” of momentum sweeps into the 8th District, Milwaukee County Republican Party Vice Chairman Rick Baas is convinced Darling won’t be washed away.

Rather than building her foundation of support with her constituents on sand, Darling has built her foundation on a rock over the past two decades.

“The constituents voted her in to do what has taken place over the last six months, and they will want to stand behind her,” Baas said. “Alberta has done the hard work. Pasch is just trying to take advantage of an opportunity, and make hay while the sun shines.

"People in her district know what she has done, and will stand behind her.”

Baas added that a victory up north in Green Bay has little to do with what will happen in southeastern Wisconsin.

“Even if it was a Republican victory I don’t believe anyone should be screaming at the top of their lungs that it was a Republican slam dunk,” Baas said.

Expert says voters are energized

Whether the Democrats have truly unleashed a surge of momentum throughout the state is up for debate. What isn’t being questioned, one expert says, is the energy and engagement of voters in 2011.

“Voters remain very engaged by these recalls," said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Some people had argued that it’s summer and people will go on vacation, and this recall stuff has dragged on for a long time. There’s pretty good evidence that engagement remains high."

He noted, for example, that the turnout in Wisconsin's Supreme Court election in April was about 35 percent. Turnout for the prior Supreme Court race was 20 percent.

The 15 point increase in 2011 equates to about 355,000 more voters across Wisconsin heading to the polls.

Although turnout for the election in the 30th Senate District was about 15 percent lower than the Supreme Court race, it was still markedly higher than previous elections.

Franklin said there was also evidence that Democratic voters showed up in higher numbers Tuesday. The Democratic vote total in that district was 15 percent higher than the total votes received by Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg in April.

“The fact that Hansen got 15 percent more votes than Kloppenburg suggests Democrats were able to raise their vote totals even more in the general election,” Franklin said.

Tate affirmed Franklin’s findings and said he expects turnout by voters on both sides will be very high come August.

“We are going to see turnouts equal or exceed the turnout we saw in the spring election,” Tate said. “Turnout could even rival gubernatorial levels. Having elections in the middle of summer has not affected the races.”

In the 8th Senate District, Franklin said Darling has a slight advantage over Pasch based on the Supreme Court results. Republican David Prosser won all three Assembly Districts within the 8th District in April. He added that voter turnout will be crucial to the any hopes Pasch has of winning against Darling.

“In the Supreme Court race, there was no evidence that the district had shifted away from Darling,” Franklin said. “There is some advantage to the Republicans just by the nature of this district. Therefore, the Democratic turnout looks to be incredibly important here.”

jbw July 21, 2011 at 05:12 AM
I still think using the recall election process wholesale solely as a strategic weapon to get an effective do-over on recent elections and perhaps tip the partisan balance in the legislature is irresponsible, childish, and hypocritical of any proponent of the much vaunted "will of the people". I'd like to see both parties publicly condemned for letting it come down to this instead of establishing respectful diaglogue at a time when good statesmanship is sorely needed. There, I just did it.
Gregg Ward July 21, 2011 at 06:18 AM
Basically, the Republicans and Walker sold the state a bill of goods last year and then sold out the middle class in favor of wealthy corporate interests. A lot of Wisconsin voters are thinking they were hoodwinked. These recall elections are a legitimate and legal means of testing whether or not the voters really do want Walker and pals to do what they're doing. So far, they don't. We'll see what happens; but don't be too surprised if the Dems prevail. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I don't think the voters are gonna get fooled twice.
Keith Schmitz July 21, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Bet you are looking good and hard.
Keith Schmitz July 21, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Did you feel the same way about the Clinton impeachment, or the Congressional Republicans blocking everything they can of Obama's programs or nominees at the risk of tanking our economy? What's childish is being elected to improve the jobs climate, but instead instituting every rad right fantasy whether it was needed or not or whether people wanted it or not. Conceal and carry when there is no major crime problem throughout the state? Voter ID when there has been no case of wide spread voter fraud? Gutting Planned Parenthood when this is in many places the only source for affordable woman's health services? This is government by talk radio and it doesn't get any childish than that.
Michael Schwister July 21, 2011 at 01:34 PM
I'm still trying to find the teachers in Darlings TV ads
CowDung July 21, 2011 at 01:35 PM
"Conceal and carry when there is no major crime problem throughout the state?" Have you been to Milwaukee? "Voter ID when there has been no case of wide spread voter fraud?" One cannot prove that something does not exist. If the state were already catching the people engaging in vote fraud, we wouldn't be needing Voter ID. "Gutting Planned Parenthood when this is in many places the only source for affordable woman's health services?" What happened to Obamacare?
CowDung July 21, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Look closer--Darling used to be a public school teacher...
Michael Pyter July 21, 2011 at 01:59 PM
I hope they ride their "wave" all the way into the middle of the lake, where they can then get off.
Mira Bluesky July 21, 2011 at 02:14 PM
"People in her district know what she has done, and will stand behind her.” _____________________________ I'm in her district, and I know what she's done alright, and I DO NOT STAND BEHIND HER. She's another radical right robot. I say back to the country club for her.
Craig July 21, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Only a fool would think that way. The people have spoken and expected results with the election of Scott Walker. I personally feel he didn't hit the teachers hard enough, why they should only pay half of what the real world pays for healthcare is beyond me! Anyway, anyone with any economic brains knows this had to be done to prevent the state from going broke....too bad the idiots in the White House can't understand that concept. Be ready for hyperinflation, high interest rates, and the second wave in the market- often referred to as the W effect. (double crash)
Nate July 21, 2011 at 02:33 PM
The teacher that has it so bad in Pasch's ad......her husband is a doctor. They sure must be struggling with her having to put a small percentage towards her benefits.
Randy1949 July 21, 2011 at 03:45 PM
What happened to Obamacare? Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act has no public option. The premium subsidies won't take effect until 2014, and some women might need a timely pap smear before then. And there's a good chance that, given the climate in Congress, it may be gone by then anyway. Take you pick. (To no one in particular --why is my reply function not working as it should?)
Andrew Wagner July 21, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Mr Engleking, Perhaps you should consider a remedial math course. If turnout goes from 20% to 35%, what is the percentage increase? If you answered 15%, you FAIL. The correct answer was 75%.
Carl Engelking July 21, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Andrew, you are absolutely correct. Thanks for the catch, we've corrected the article.
Scott Walker July 21, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Corporations are evil and make money and are evil and kill babies and are evil. So far they don't? Why because you cry and a bunch of college kids protested outside of my office. The voters were not fooled once, the onlys one that were rid the gravy train on the backs of the tax payers. And though that would never end...... lol
Nate July 21, 2011 at 08:17 PM
oh i got a 4:30 tee time again and i told them no later than 4, no tips for them and where's my martini?
Nate July 21, 2011 at 08:35 PM
right on but i sure am glad we recalled those three dem senators
Scott Walker July 21, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Drinks on me Senator
Nate July 21, 2011 at 08:58 PM
oh they're around here somewhere. has anyone seen my glasses by the way?
Larry Booth July 21, 2011 at 10:45 PM
I am an Independent voter who voted for Sen. Darling in the past. I also generally support the Republican's attempt to rein in state spending. However, the way the Republicans are ramming their ideology down our throats without any attempt at deliberation or compromise has completely changed my mind and pushed me solidly to the left in the upcoming election. Sen. Darling, Gov. Walker and the Republican Storm Troops are going to pay a steep price for their arrogamce and their ideological trashing of the laws and values that have made this such a great state in the past.
red July 21, 2011 at 11:29 PM
The Republicans are not the party that is denying dialog and deliberation. Sixty hours of debate in the Assembly is not noting. Without name calling - which is impossible for lefties - the Republicans fulfilled their promises to the voters. To have fiscal sanity and balanced budges. Have a look at Illinois not paying their suppliers ... http://www.city-journal.org/2011/21_2_illinois-budget.html Look at Minnesota, shutting down. Minnesota government shuts down over budget deficit The Minnesota shutdown enters its second week, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/minnesota-government-shuts-down-over-budget-deficit/2011/07/01/AGg4fdtH_gallery.html The Republicans erased our deficits with no layoffs, no shutdowns. Just establishing tools to moderate state employees and teachers pay in a time when we are all suffering. Congratulations to the good governance Republicans and to Walker for gaining 9500 jobs when Obama was losing 450,000
Michael Schwister July 21, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Walker and the good Republican governance hasn't quite finished with the legal system yet. There are several lawsuits that haven't been resolved. It wasn't till he left his last job that the taxpayers got stung and someone else had to clean up his mess.
red July 21, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Feh, loser lawsuits. Not a chance of success. Those of us with memories know that it was mega pension Tom Ament that really screwed the County. How about Wisconsin having the biggest gain in the Chief Executive Magazine rankings released this month. Wisconsin jumped 17 spots, from 41st to 24th, Do you like jobs?
Michael Schwister July 22, 2011 at 01:30 AM
"Chief Executive Magazine"? Amusing. Government by ALEC graduates? Not so amusing.
Scott Walker July 22, 2011 at 01:33 AM
You sound like a bad political ad, try make it sound real next time.
Scott Walker July 22, 2011 at 01:35 AM
13,000 jobs in June. Michael must not like jobs.
red July 22, 2011 at 01:56 AM
I missed the lefty coffee klatch where we discussed what ALEC means. Would you like Caterpillar to move here with 23000 jobs, or are they just more of Walker's evil corporate buddies? Caterpillar Mulls Relocating: How Do You Move a Bulldozer Company?
red July 22, 2011 at 01:56 AM
http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2011/03/28/caterpillar-mulls-relocating/
Jay Sykes July 22, 2011 at 03:13 AM
@red...Caterpillar just completed their buyout of Bucyrus International(formerly Bucyrus Erie), on July 8th, so they now have a significant presence in the Milwaukee area, that through Bucyrus, dates back to 1893.
red July 22, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Yes and they are considering moving their entire Illinois operation here. If Michael Schwister and the lefties don't run them off. http://archive.chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2011/03/caterpillar-threatens-to-leave-illinois-over-taxes.html

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