Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dems Win One Wisconsin Senate Recall, Just Enough Take Back Control

State Senator John Lehman
With John Lehman's recall election victory over Republican Van Wanggaard, the Wisconsin Democrats have taken back control of the State Senate, which will help slow the anti-labor legislative agenda the Walker administration continues to push forward.

Lehman won 51 to 49 percent, with a margin of just 221 votes out of 72,000 cast. 

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the rest of his Republican team survived the recall election with the help of the Koch brothers and their billionaire mega-millions. 

The Republicans outspent the Democrats 20 to 1 in this bitterly fought recall campaign. Two-and-a-half million people voted, which was 300,000 less state officials had projected.

Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald and Chippewa Falls Republican Terry Moulton each won their contests with 57 and 58 percent of the vote. Assembly Republican Jerry Petrowski took 61 percent, defeating Assembly Democrat Donna Seidel for the Senate seat vacated when recall target Pam Galloway resigned in March.

Republican Rebecca Kleefisch stays on as Lieutenant Governor, after defeating Mahlon Mitchell 53 to 47 percent.

Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell, the president of Wisconsin’s Professional Firefighters Association, made it clear there’s plenty of fight left in the Democratic Party and Wisconsin's Labor Movement, despite Tuesday’s devastating loss. 

"This is a fight that we have to keep up and we cannot stop. I can tell you right now that I’m not done with this fight. And I know the man behind me – Mayor Barrett – is not done with this fight. I will continue to fight and I will continue to speak out against the injustices of this state. And we gotta keep going. We cannot stop. He is trying to divide and conquer us. We cannot let that happen right? Right? Are you ready to fight?”

More than a thousand people gathered at the State Capitol last night as the returns were coming in. Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor, told supporters to keep fighting for what they believe in. 

State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said his side was badly out-spent, but the recall battle was still worth fighting. And Tate said it would be a mistake to call Wisconsin a “red state” now.

AFL-CIO's President, Richard Trumka, released the following statement on Tuesday night:

"Tonight working families across the country recognize the courageous journey that nurses, teachers, firefighters, snowplow drivers and other Wisconsinites led for more than a year."

"Though a seemingly impossible task, they refused to allow their voices be taken away by an overreaching and partisan governor. Whether it was standing in the snow, sleeping in the Capitol, knocking on doors or simply casting a vote, we admire the heart and soul everyone poured into this effort. Adding to this gargantuan challenge of recalling only the third governor in American history was the flood of secret corporate cash distorting our democracy – a dangerous example of a post-Citizens United America."

"We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people. Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies. It’s time to work together to forge a new path forward. The challenge to solve a generation of economic policies and create an economy that celebrates hard work over a partisan agenda gained momentum today."

Labor leaders and Democratic Party leaders need to regroup and assess how to change our political strategy and tactics going forward. Clearly, being outspent 20 to 1 doesn't work. Having our Democrat President of the United States not show up, nor speak up, didn't help either. Solidarity is key, it is also as uncommon as common sense these days.

We can't afford to come up short like this in November, so back to work everyone, we have some big time changes to make and challenges to overcome.

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