wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share

Join a Discussion

There are no discussions scheduled today.

Weekly schedule, past shows

Post Partisan
Posted at 09:23 AM ET, 07/20/2011

Democrats win first Wisconsin recall race


In Wisconsin’s Summer of Decision, the first round went to the Democrats. State Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay defeated Republican David VanderLeest. Hansen won big, 66 percent to 34 percent, on a healthy turnout that Democrats took as a good sign for the eight remaining recall elections spurred by a revolt against Gov. Scott Walker and the anti-union legislation he pushed through a Republican-controlled legislature.

Hansen’s victory doesn’t change the balance in Wisconsin’s State Senate, but by holding on to his seat, Hansen did make it easier for the Democrats to take over. In August, six Republicans and two more Democrats face recalls. If Democrats pick up a net of three seats, they take over the Senate. The recall process was begun by Democrats, but Republicans responded by targeting incumbent Democrats to complicate the opposition’s task.

The GOP once had hope of picking up Hansen’s district, which includes territory that had sung toward the Republicans in 2010. But the candidate perceived as the party’s strongest, State Assemblyman John Nygren, was knocked off the ballot in a challenge to his petitions, and VanderLeest’s past became an issue in the election.

As Steve Contorno wrote in the Green Bay Press Gazette, “Hansen’s victory over a controversial candidate wasn’t a shocker. VanderLeest’s legal and financial troubles became the focus of his campaign, dragging down his bid even after he vowed not to discuss them anymore.” But Contorno also noted that Hansen’s seat was “right-leaning,” and that Republicans had once viewed it as “very winnable.”

Hansen read the results as the first step in a Democratic comeback. “It’s only the beginning,” he declared at a victory celebration.

Of course Hansen would say this, but Contorno pointed to the Democrats’ impressive ground operation in the race. One senses that the energy in these recalls will be on the Democrats’ side, a bigger than usual advantage in mid-summer contests where turnout will be key. And there is normally no better time than August to get attention. If Democrats manage to take over Wisconsin’s State Senate in reaction to the actions of a very ideological conservative governor and legislature, the event will have reverberations far beyond Madison.

By  |  09:23 AM ET, 07/20/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company