On a night when Democrats suffered a deflating defeat to Gov. Scott Walker, they may have reclaimed the State Senate.

Former State Sen. John Lehman has apparently regained the seat he lost to current Sen. Van Wanggaard in 2010, which would give Democrats a 17-16 majority in the chamber.

With all precincts in, the Racine Journal Times reported that Lehman beat Wanggaard 36,255 votes to 35,476.

Wanggaard spoke to supporters after midnight and did not concede; he said he would wanted to see more complete numbers in the morning.

Democrats, however, rejoiced at the news of a silver lining to an otherwise disastrous night for the party, which lost races for governor, lieutenant governor and three other state Senate seats.

Although Democrats were hopeful they would be able to muster another win in the race between GOP Sen. Terry Moulton and former state Rep. Kristen Dexter in the Eau Claire area, Moulton won easily, beating Dexter 57-43.

The insurgent grassroots campaign of Lori Compas, a freelance photographer who took on Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in a heavily Republican distict, also came up short by a significant margin.

In the fourth race, state Rep. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, easily beat state Rep. Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, in a race for a seat left vacant by former GOP Sen. Pam Galloway, who retired after a successful recall effort against her was launched.

“Lehman defeats Wanggaard in WI recall election; Democrats win control of State Senate; thwart Walker agenda,” tweeted state Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine.

Since the Legislature is not scheduled to be in session again until January, the Democratic control of the Senate will unlikely have much consequence in the months to come.

However, if the GOP had won control of the Senate, Walker could have called the Legislature into special session in an attempt to pass major pieces of policy before the November election, when control of the Senate and the Assembly (where Republicans currently enjoy a large majority), will once again be contested.

Assuming it holds up, Lehman’s victory simply ensures the governor will not take that unusual step.

Jack Craver is the Capital Times political reporter, focusing on elections, candidates and campaign finance.

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(32) comments


Puss bag walker will soon be indicted by the Fed's and the D.A, He will soon be a felon!


It matters because of triage principles. Say you're walking behind somebody who takes a massive spill on a slippery sidewalk. Over the long term, you know the guy's going to need physical therapy, and in the medium term there'll probably be an operation to fix that bone sticking out of his arm, but RIGHT NOW your job is to stop the hemorrhaging.




It's a metaphor. Democratic control of the state senate means that Walker won't be able to do any more damage right now.

At least not legislatively. He's still got the entire executive branch where he can run wild, dialing back on enforcement of laws he doesn't like, letting incompetents like Cathy Stepp mismanage state agencies, further undermining the civil-service system, and coming up with "creative" regulations. But at least we've stanched the bleeding of bad legislation.


So it sounds like liberals like gridlock now.At least they won't have to take the van down to Illinois to the water park again.


I am still giggling about the CNN clip showing the crybaby boy breaking down and whining about the loss! "Oh, Boo, hoo, hoo!!! I'm just so hurt!! It's the end of the world". Giggling aside, that is the problem with Madison. Those clowns actually live in their own little fantasy bubble!!




It's called "empathy". You could look it up.

Comment deleted.

Umm, it's because Racine returns came in last, partly because of strong turnout there, and exit polling confirmed it was going heavily tl Lehman. Everyone who thinks & understands how the dynamics of politics works knew that all along, it's the reason that race was not called by any news org, even though the margin in the early results for Wanggaard was actually larger than Walkers, etc.

Consider moving on with your conspiracy theories for something else you don't understand? Sadly, I think if thinks keep going as they are, you will get your wish in Wisconsin -- educated citizens who understand complexity will be "bred out of existence" by unrelenting cuts to public education, and more and more will end up as confused as you are.


tomtom33 I believe you are wrong Lehman is subject to recall he was not the one being recalled but that is a moot point why would we waste money trying to recall him. With redistricting we will have control of the senate again in November before it ever is in session again.


I may be wrong but I believe that there can only be one recall per seat per term.


"(6) After one such petition and recall election, no further recall petition shall be filed against the same officer during the term for which he was elected."

To me that means if the incumbent wins he is safe, but if a new person win they are up for targeting after 1 year, but I may be interpreting it wrong...also they may have more defined laws, this is simply the part from the WI constitution

Bicycle Bob

The legislature is the predominant branch of government. The legislature passes the laws, the executive only enforces the laws that they pass.

As Jefferson said, "That government that governs least, governs best." Maybe any further worsening changes can be made.


I wonder how many IL residents voted in this Senate election?


I'm not a political activist, but couldn't someone correct Dope-Dode by saying IN CAPS: At least with a split legislature the ASSEMBLY can be prevented from doing any MORE real damage to your state. Gov. Walker's changes are already in effect and are moving your STATE OF WISCONSIN BACKWARD.


The Senate will not be in session again until Jan. and there is another election that will take place before then and there are 16 races that will take place and 10 of them are democrats. The next election will be using redistricting.


Yup, that's the biggie.


It will be interesting to see the results of a recount. Were that to happen (which I think reasonable), I suspect 1,000+ votes will be thrown out and Lehman will lose.


At least with a split legislature the Senate can be prevented from doing any real damage to the state. Gov. Walker's changes are already in effect and are moving us forward.


Thank god this is over, and the best person won,again.
Democrats, you lost, but if a simple minded person like me could see this coming, so should you. You had 2 golden opportunities to tell the voters what your platform was, instead, you chose to attack, the gov. Wrong thing to do.
I noticed last nite in his, Barrette, address, he got alot of boo's. So did the gov., only the gov. stopped them, Barrette did nothing, That my friend, shows class.


You do understand that the people at Walkers party were booing Barrett's name, while those at Barrett's party were booing him (Barrett), the fact he was conceding so early, right? You're comparing apples & orange, it's easier for a politician to explicitly ask "don't boo my opponent" than to say "don't boo me."

I agree with you, this is the era of simple-minded thinking. There is obviously a LOT of support out there in Wisconsin for the idea of holding down spending, with the implied connection to lower/smaller increases in taxes. This appeal is understandable at some levels, and is so strong that I think people are not troubled by the facts that

1) spending cuts/reductions in services & increases in fees are outsized compared to reductions in tax increases, with the difference going to targeted corporate tax breaks to reward corporate political allies for their support,

2) what investment that is going on is mostly politically expedient, therefor short-sighted. One noteworthy thing that Walker has increased spending on is road construction. Partly to reward his political sugar daddies (see #1 - Walker got more campaign contributions from road construction companies in 2010 than all other Wisconsin politicians, at all levels government, ***combined*** If you don't believe me, google it). Stuff like rail is a long-term investment; it would lose money in the short term (maybe a decade), but 20, 30, 50 years from now the state economy would have been much stronger for the infrastructure it would have provided businesses, in a post-petrol world. Those shiny new roads we are boosting spending on now will be less utilized with gas $5-$10 a gallon, and also require incrementally more maintenance in perpetuity.

3) The decline in quality of government services will lag the cuts in funding. A lot of current public employees (most particularly teachers) are mid-career, established in the communities with families etc, and are going to grumble about compensation cuts, but for the most part will probably absorb them, at least for a while because a) they are established and past the phase of life that they relocate, b) for teachers, there aren't many states that appreciate and reward their skills markedly more, c) for professions like teaching, there are limited alternatives to public service (charters are notorious for screwing their teaching staff in order to reward the investors & executives, it's the new economic gold rush for capitalism, the last bastion of resource extraction opportunity in our society, to skim profits off of education spending). So what will happen is that the quality of these public services will decline more gradually than the "savings" are realized through reduced spending on salaries & benefits, and it may look like not so bad a move for a while. But over time the established high quality staff will leave/retire, new blood will be more reluctant to replace them (or even make the investment education to go into the field), and the decline in staff/services quality WILL come, even if it takes a generation to be fully realized. Capitalism's laws of supply & demand affect the quality of public goods just as much as private. It's not unlike a lot or houses built in the recent boom of 5-15 years ago; the McMansions were made possible in part by reduced costs of components, which came paired with reduced quality. The superficial appearance of quality/"luxury" masked the fact that a lot of those houses (particularly in places like Nevada and Florida, and maybe locally in Fitchburg to some degree) will not age well. You spend less & less on something, you always do eventually reach the point that you get less quality. I argue when that "something" is employees/staff, this rule is more applicable than ever. All you believers in capitalism surely cannot deny this?


You can type all the books you like. The bottom line is that Walker won, convincingly.


lol. My apologies for making the effort to discuss a complex, nuanced topic on this board.


p.s. it just struck me -- you sound more like you are talking about a sports game, than the future of our community. Is it really all about teams, winning & losing to you?

Ah, how nice it must be to have that POV. I'm not sure I have ever really "won" in an election. I can only think of one or two candidates in my life in a non-local race that I was more than halfway excited about, and neither of them even made it out of the primary. In this election I would not have felt I "won" if Barrett or Falk or Walker won. I think the only possible candidates I might have found strongly appealing (potentially) were Cullen or Shultz. Maybe.

I could give a rat's a-- that Tom Barrett lost. He seems like a nice guy & all, but would probably not have been much more than an average governor, at best. What bothers me is that IMO *Wisconsin* lost.


Thank god for Lehman! That'll at least slow Walker down.


The senate isn't even in session now, nor will it be (most likely) until the fall election. In the fall election 14 or 16 seats are up for grabs (including Lehman's). In the meantime a couple of democrats are not going to be seeking another term. Therefore Lehman's "win" if the re-count goes his way won't change a thing. He's nothing more than a temporary place holder.

Sorry to break your bubble.


"Lehman’s victory simply ensures the governor will not take that unusual step"

If Walker had retained the Senate there is no doubt he would have had them all back in town by the end of the month.


Enjoy the hollow, meaningless and short term victory libs......

Just trying to be a gracious winner.


Also don't forget that Lehman gets to retain the 21st seat for 32 months. So -- barring a hypocritical recall by the Repubs (which would make all their bleating about needing to change election law to cut down on recalls hypocrisy) -- that is one Senate seat that remains Democratic for the remainder of Walker's term. That may turn out to be a very big deal, given how that seat was redistricted to supposedly make it one of the sure Republican ones.


Only one recall per term is allowed. Lehman cannot be recalled for that 32 months.


In the new district he will be voted out as it cuts out liberal Racine


Yes, in 32 months, at the end of Wlaker's term. Already acknowledged.

Try to read the whole comment before responding please.

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