But control of chamber may be short-lived following elections in the fallFollowing a lengthy recount of the recall election that had been attempting to remove him from office, GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard finally conceded defeat today after it was clear his opponent, Democrat John Lehman, won by 819 votes.
Wanggaard had made charges that the election was riddled with voter fraud. Yet despite what he calls "mountains of evidence," the Republican senator said that he couldn't make a case within five days from the certification of the recount, and has yet to produce anything substantial to fit his claim.
The electoral difference between Wanggaard and Lehman was 1.1 percent, a very close election to be sure. But to put things into perspective, when JoAnne Kloppenburg lost to sitting Justice David Prosser last year, that election was within 0.48 percent.
At that time, there was no shortage of conservative voices calling for Kloppenburg to concede the election (1, 2, 3), even though she was within the threshold legally allowing her to have a recount performed by the state. Conversely, Wanggaard WASN'T within that threshold, meaning that the senator had to pay a filing fee of more than $600. However, taxpayers were still saddled with the bill for his recount -- and yet, the right was relatively silent about it.
Just a bit hypocritical, if you ask me.
Still, with the victory by Lehman the Democrats officially take hold of the Senate chamber by a 17-16 margin. (It should also be noted that one of those 16 Republicans is moderate Dale Schultz, who has shown he's not afraid to buck his party's stances every once in awhile.)
The new Senate prevents Gov. Scott Walker from pushing forward a special session during the next few months. Previously, Walker had the ability to call for a session and pass more of his conservative agenda with a Republican-controlled legislature. The split legislature -- Republicans controlling the Assembly and Democrats the Senate -- prevents such an action from occurring.
But the situation as it stands now may only be temporary. With 2012 being another election year, the Senate is once again up for grabs. State senators serve four-year terms, with half of the senate seats being up for grab every two years...meaning this November, the chamber may change hands once more.
The Democrats will have a lot of work to do if they're to retain control. For now, however, there's reason to celebrate: Scott Walker, at least temporarily, cannot receive a rubber-stamp from a radically conservative legislature.