MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – All six Democrats won their “primaries” Tuesday against phony candidates put up by Republicans to delay general elections for GOP incumbents until August, in a giant recall season sparked by Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union “Budget Repair Bill.”
The six real Democrats will face Republican incumbent state senators in recall elections on Aug. 9. Republicans hold a 19-14 edge in the state Senate, so victories by three Democrats in August could tip control of that house.
The vote this week would have decided the issue had the Republican Party not put up the phony candidates, forcing Democrats to hold a “primary” against bogus contenders.
Republicans said they did it to give themselves another month to explain to voters why the union-busting bill, Wisconsin Act 10, is good for the state.
Democrats called it another dirty trick, on top of the ones the Republicans used to push the bill through without a quorum.
Five of the real Democrats won with 64 percent or more of the vote in their districts, according to unofficial returns. In the only truly contested race, in western Wisconsin, Democrat Shelly Moore defeated Isaac Weix, a Republican running as a Democrat this time, who had twice lost while running for the Assembly as a Republican. Moore took 54 percent of the vote, unofficially.
Three Democratic state senators also face recalls, with those votes starting July 19. Two of those will be primaries between Republican challengers; the third will be a general election. The two general recall elections for Democrats will be on Aug. 16.
The three Democrats face recalls because voters were angry that they were among the 14 state senators who fled the state to deny Republicans a quorum in February. Republicans used legislative tricks to pass Act 10 anyway, and the state has been in political turmoil ever since.
Act 10 did far more to rein in unions than it did to repair the state budget. It made it illegal for public employee unions to bargain collectively for anything other than salaries, and imposed other conditions making union representation more difficult.
All of the recall winners will have to run again in November 201, some or perhaps all of them in districts changed by redistricting.
Millions of dollars already have been raised and national groups from both sides have converged on the state.
Here are the Republican incumbents facing recall on Aug. 9:
District 2 – Sen. Rob Cowles will face former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum;
District 8 – Sen. Alberta Darling faces Assemblywoman Sandra Pasch, a nurse;
District 10 – Sen. Sheila Harsdorf faces Shelly Moore, a teacher and union official;
District 14 – Sen. Luther Olsen faces Assemblyman Fred Clark, a farmer and small business owner;
District 18 – Sen. Randy Hopper faces Jessica King, a former deputy mayor;
District 32 – Sen. Dan Kapanke faces Assemblywoman Jennifer Shilling, a former county supervisor.
Hopper is considered vulnerable, as state media have reported widely on accusations that, though married, he used his influence to get a state job for his girlfriend; Kapanke is considered vulnerable as his district has been trending Democratic.
Gov. Walker is eligible for recall in January.