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.