Today, Wisconsin is holding the greatest recall election in U.S. history. Six Republican senators are on the block, a result of Governor Scott Walker’s sweeping anti-worker’s rights proposals and the legislative maneuvering he engineered to pass them, which managed to offend Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike. Amid a deep jobless recession, the brief Wisconsin campaigns have reportedly drawn roughly $40 million in spending. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza describes them as “special elections on steroids,” but adds that it’s hard to draw any conclusions about what the unique showdown means. Coming on the heels of the debt-ceiling clash that ended with a first-ever downgrade of the country’s credit rating and a dizzying stock market plunge, however, the showdown at the very least demonstrates that a significant number of citizens in the state agree with credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s that the acrimonious ideologically driven non-compromising politics that has characterized the post-Citizens United Obama-Tea Party era must end.
Democrats need to win three of the six recall seats to gain a majority in the senate. Strategists and pollsters agree that two seats seem winnable and that a third will likely come down to the wire.
As a referendum on Walker and his agenda, the elections have already made a statement. None of the six Republicans facing recall have included Walker in their campaign ads, and one, Senator Randy Hopper, has run ads in which he appears standing beside former Republican governor Tommy Thompson.
If the Wisconsin supreme court election that pitted Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg against Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in April is any measure, vote tallies today will be very close and they will be difficult or impossible to verify, as ace elections watcher Brad Friedman has reported in excruciating detail at the Brad Blog. Read more about the elections there as well as in-depth reporting on the dirty tricks that have already marked the campaigns.