Recall: School Choice Majority Victory; Dems Look To Future Power Shift Wins
WISCONSINREPORT.COM (08/12/2011) - With the eyes of the nation watching August 9th, Wisconsin citizens voted to retain what a pro school voucher group calls the school choice majority in the Wisconsin Senate (Republicans). American Federation for Children (AFC) is cheering the victories of four of 6 Republican State Senators who faced Recall Challengers, following petitions that forced the Recall Votes after the way the GOP legislative majority forced what some are calling sweeping changes to the way of life in the working community. Democrats are looking for the power picture to change in the future.
An AFC spokesperson is representing the outcome as "a triumphant victory for supporters of the state's school voucher programs and a rebuke of divisive, special interest-sponsored recall efforts". However, Democrats are saying it shows that Republicans still in power now will have a fight on their hands to keep that power in future elections.
Four of six Senators retained their seats in the recall elections, including education reform advocates Senator Alberta Darling and Senator Luther Olsen.
In recent months, the American Federation for Children, the nation's voice for school choice, played a crucial role in communicating with voters about the issue records of these elected officials via direct mail, television advertising, radio advertising, and on-the-ground outreach.
AFC's aggressive issue advocacy outreach represented one of the bipartisan organization's largest investments to date.
"The 'kids first' education agenda that Governor Scott Walker so eloquently described in his speech to AFC's policy summit earlier this year has been upheld and strengthened as a result of this historic recall election," said AFC Chairman Betsy DeVos.
"The people of Wisconsin chose to put aside the innuendo of the special interests and to affirm the hard work, diligence, and courage of elected officials who worked tirelessly to enhance the state's educational options," DeVos said.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Legislature voted to dramatically expand the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which provides school vouchers allowing children in low-and middle-income families to attend the private schools of their parents' choice. In addition, the Legislature voted to create a new school choice program in Racine.
Meanwhile, Democrats say Tuesday's historic Wisconsin recall elections showed just how vulnerable Republicans are in the November 2012 elections – and how vulnerable Gov. Walker is to a recall election himself.
In each of the August 9th, 2011 recall elections, Democrats faced entrenched Republicans, all of them part of what could be called, the elite GOP establishment:
- In Wisconsin State Senate District 2, Sen. Rob Cowles has been elected to the Legislature from his district since 1983 – nearly 30 years, and rarely faces real challenges.
- In SD 8, Sen. Alberta Darling is a 20-year career politician who has been on the powerful, budget-writing Joint Finance Committee for 10 years. She is currently the co-chair of JFC.
- In SD 10, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf is also on JFC, and has been elected to the Legislature from Western Wisconsin in 18 of the past 22 years.
- In SD 14, Sen. Luther Olsen is also on JFC. Olsen has never before in his career faced a Democratic opponent, and his district hasn't elected a Democrat in more than 100 years.
- In SD 18, Sen. Randy Hopper is also on JFC and had been mentioned by some conservative observers as potential gubernatorial material when he was first elected.
- In SD 32, Sen. Kapanke was nearly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives against a popular Democratic incumbent just 10 months ago.
The people of Wisconsin recalled 2 GOP senators with Democrats winning in two of the six districts. The four Republicans remaining were taken "to the brink" by Democrats in the four districts that remain represented by Republicans in the State Senate.
Democrats are looking at the two victories and the four good challenges in districts Republicans thought were safe, as exposing GOP Vulnerabilities.
Democrats feel Republicans will crow publicly that they have kept the senate majority, but those same Republicans may be masking their fear for the future of their grip on power in Wisconsin.
Democrats and supporters beleive that, privately Republican legislators and Republican Governor Scott Walker may be breathing a heavy sigh of relief following results of the August 9th Recall, but, "new sweat is forming on their brow , because they know that while they may have eeked through while fighting on their own turf, in deep Republican red districts and counties, the rest of Wisconsin is an entirely different story".
Two more Senator Recall elections will take place August 16th in Wisconsin: District 12 and district 22. In district 12 Democrat Senator Jim Holperin is facing a recall challenge. In district 22 Democrat Senator Robert Wirch is up for recall. These Recalls were initiated by petitions from people who were dissatisfied with the Senators participating in delaying the Republican passage of a bill by a goup of Democrat Senators going over the state line to avoid continuation of the inevitable result.
Democrats must hold onto both seats in the Tuesday, August 16th Recall to keep the gains made by the August 9th wins, something Republicans are hoping to avert.
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