MADISON - Everyone who follows politics (which is everyone, right?) knows Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) faces a recall election Tuesday night.
But regardless of what happens between Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), the results could be a split decision in a couple of ways.
The first and far more likely scenario: Democrats lose the governor’s race but win control of the state Senate.
Last summer, Democrats ran recall campaigns against six Republican state senators in response to the collective bargaining reforms championed by Walker and passed by the the GOP-controlled legislature. Two Republicans were unseated, so while Democrats failed to take over the state Senate, they narrowed the GOP majority from 19-14 to 17-16.
When they filed petitions to recall Walker himself last fall, Democrats also filed papers to recall another four state senators — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Sens. Pam Galloway, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard, (Galloway resigned earlier this year; Republican state Rep. Jerry Petrowski is running for her seat.)
They need only win one race to take control.
Fitzgerald is likely safe given his heavily Republican district, although Lori Compas, his Democratic rival, has attracted a lot of media attention.
But Democrats are bullish on the races against Moulton and Wanggaard. Both districts went for President Obama in 2008; Wanggaard’s went narrowly for John Kerry in 2004. Whether Barrett wins or not, they expect to take back the state Senate.
Moulton faces former state Rep. Kristen Dexter; Wanggaard faces former state Sen. John Lehman (D). Outside groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides. State Rep. Donna Seidel (D) also has a shot at beating Petrowski; before Galloway the seat had gone Democratic for two decades.
A Barrett victory would be more meaningful — the state Senate is out of session until November, when regular elections are held and Republicans could retake the chamber. If the Milwaukee mayor wins, he could call a special session to undo some of Walker’s reforms.
Less likely, but possible: Democrats lose the governor’s race but win the lieutenant governor’s race.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) is also on the ballot with Walker. In recall elections, politicians don’t run on the same ticket. If some voters pick only a gubernatorial candidate, the result could be a split decision where Democrat Mahlon Mitchell serves as Walker’s lieutenant governor.
According to the Wisconsin constitution, Mitchell — currently the head of the firefighter’s union — could then claim control whenever Walker was absent from the state.
Mitchell and Barrett both dismissed this possibility when asked about it by the Huffington Post. But it could happen.
As Marquette Law School professor J. Gordon Hylton, told the AP: “[T]he way Wisconsin politics have become, you never know.”
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