When Walker was elected, Republican control of both chambers seemed to be assured for the whole of his first two years. That was particularly true in the powerful state Senate, where the GOP held a wide 19-14 advantage. The only power the Democrats had was that of withdrawing consent by leaving the state, as the fourteen dissenters did when Walker began moving to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees.
But the recall elections changed all that, ending the the arrangement that empowered Walker.
Now the Senate has a 17-16 Democratic majority.
Last summer, labor unions and their allies used recall elections to sweep two Republican state senators out of office. With the resignation earlier this year of a third Republican senator, Scott Fitzgerald found himself in a power-sharing circumstance with the Democrats through the next round of recall elections: for the governorship and several more Senate seats.
On June 5, Walker won the governor’s race. But one of his steadiest backers, state Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, finished roughly 800 votes behind Democratic challenger John Lehman.
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