After the state became a battleground for national interests, both sides will leave with more questions than answers
They came. They saw. They (almost) conquered.
But almost wasn't quite good enough for Democrats on Tuesday in a a series of six Wisconsin Senate races that turned into a high-priced proxy war over national spending priorities. Democrats knocked off two supporters of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget-cutting and union-busting agenda, but fell just short of the prize they had been chasing for months: control of the chamber.
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Voters returning Democrats to a majority in the state Senate would have been the clearest repudiation yet of the Republican agenda that liberal activists have railed against for much of this year. Instead, Democrats and allied groups are left with more questions than answers. And not just about Wisconsin.
Organized labor was a major driver of the effort to recall Republicans, a contest that drew as much as $35 million, according to one estimate, into a state that is a traditional presidential battleground. Outside groups on both sides flooded the airwaves with ads in contested districts.
Public employee labor unions have another fight looming in another swing state. In a November referendum, they'll be trying to repeal an Ohio law that another freshman Republican governor, John Kasich, signed this year to curtail state workers' bargaining rights. As in Wisconsin, the petition signature collection phase was energetic, with organizers collecting more than the requisite number of signatures to bring qualify for the ballot. Public polling has indicated support for repeal, but the disappointment of Wisconsin raises questions about whether the wave of anger that put the repeal measure on the ballot will have subsided by November.