by Chuck Westover | August 17, 2011
On Tuesday, Wisconsin Democrats claimed victories in the last two of this summer’s nine recall elections as Sen. Jim Holperin and Sen. Bob Wirch easily defeated their right-wing opponents.
As a result of the recalls, Gov. Scott Walker (R) has lost his working majority in Wisconsin’s state Senate. The chamber has shifted from a 19-14 Republican majority to a slim 17-16 advantage, and now boasts a pro-worker majority that would not have passed Walker’s divisive Budget Repair Bill that touched off this fight in the first place given GOP Sen. Dale Schultz’s firm opposition to that legislation.
Hard work on the ground in Wisconsin earlier this summer resulted in two new progressive women — Jessica King and Jennifer Schilling — winning their challenges to two right-wing Republican senators. In addition to those wins, voters retained all three Democratic senators facing recalls this summer. Green Bay Sen. Dave Hansen (who won his recall election last month), Holperin and Wirch were members of the “Wisconsin 14,” the courageous group of state senators who stood up to Gov. Walker and left the state to prevent a vote on his anti-worker bill in February.
But perhaps most inspiring has been the sense of community created by AFSCME members in Wisconsin. Members from all three councils across the state joined forces with teachers, fire fighters, police officers and students to stand up to corporate-backed politicians determined to pit middle class families against one another. From the rallies last winter to the door-to-door canvassing this summer, Wisconsinites from all walks of life pulled together and went to work to fight back.
Voters in Wisconsin sent a message to Republican lawmakers across the country that if you trample on collective bargaining rights and try to balance budgets on the backs of the middle class, there will be consequences at the ballot box.
And even more importantly, Wisconsin AFSCME members sent a message to their sisters and brothers fighting the same fight in other states: “We did it here — and so can you.”