MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – Both Democratic state senators won their recall elections Tuesday, ending Wisconsin’s summer of recalls. Republicans remain in control of the state Senate by a single seat, 17-16, after 9 recalls.
Republicans started the summer with a 19-14 majority. Democrats picked up two seats last week as two of six recalled Republican incumbents were ousted.
All the recalls were sparked by lawmakers’ acts during passage of the Republicans’ anti-union “Budget Repair Bill,” which made it illegal for public employees to collectively bargain for anything but wages. The bill has spurred copycat legislation in other states around the nation.
On Tuesday, incumbent state Sen. Jim Holperin defeated Tea Party challenger Kim Simac, taking 55 percent of the vote.
Incumbent state Sen. Robert Wirch took 58 percent of the vote against Chicago-based lawyer Jonathan Steitz.
Wirch said in a statement: “The future of Wisconsin depends on the strength of our working, middle-class families and I look forward to returning to Madison with two new Democratic senators to enact a moderate, Wisconsin agenda that supports them.”
The Democrats were two of the 14 so-called “flee-baggers” who left the state last winter to deny Republicans a quorum for Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill.
The recalls leave the Republicans in control of both houses and the governor’s office, but the party will have to enforce strict discipline in the state Senate to continue its agenda.
So far, Republicans have approved significant education cuts, made some tax cuts, approved carrying of concealed weapons, required photo ID at the polls starting next year, and eliminated taxpayer funding for political campaigns.
They also redrew legislative maps, which Gov. Walker signed into law last week.
Democrats say the new voting districts will give Republicans an advantage in the 2012 elections.
A federal lawsuit alleging the new district boundaries are unconstitutional is pending. Unless the lawsuit stops the redistricting, neither state Sens. Holperin nor Wirch will live in their new districts in November 2012.
Democratic voters are expected to try to recall Walker when he becomes eligible for that, in January.