After defeating two Republican state senators in recall elections on Tuesday, Wisconsin Democrats promised to launch a recall campaign against Republican Governor Scott Walker.
"We will not stand down — and next year, we will recall Scott Walker from office," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said in a speech sent to The Washington Post. "We will begin to repair the damage done to this state and we will begin anew with a Democratic Governor who will fight for our children, who will fight for our families, our teachers and our firefighters. We will fight for the people — not the powerful."
Although Democrats gained two seats in the Wisconsin Senate, they fell short of the three seats needed to gain a majority. Wisconsin Republican state Sens. Robert Cowles, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen and Alberta Darling all held on to their seats, defeating their Democratic challengers.
The Republican and Democratic Parties of Wisconsin both claimed victory in the recall elections.
“They can say what they want, but this is a crushing defeat for big labor, and for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin,” Stephan Thompson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement following the elections. “They said from the start their goal was to flip the majority in the state senate."
But Democrats noted that 5 of 6 recall elections took place in Republican-leaning districts, exposing the vulnerability of Republicans in the 2012 elections.
"Barely scraping by on their own turf is an incredible sign of weakness for Gov. Walker and Republicans," the Republican Party of Wisconsin said in a blog post. "The historic gains made tonight to restore balance and accountability to our state, and restore Wisconsin values, will continue when the entire state weighs-in on the November 2012 elections – and with the recall of Scott Walker himself."
Liberal and progressive groups filed papers seeking to recall eight Republican state senators after the lawmakers supported Walker's controversial "budget repair bill," which stripped nearly all collective bargaining rights from public employees. In response, conservatives filed recall papers against eight Democratic state senators.
The state Government Accountability Board approved recall elections for six Republicans and three Democrats. One of the Democratic senators, Dave Hansen, successfully defended his seat in a July 19 election. Democratic state Sens. Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch face a recall election on August 16.
Under Wisconsin law, any elected official who has served at least one year of their current term can be recalled from office. Walker will be eligible for a recall in 2012.