Politics Wednesday: GOP fumbles in Packerland

Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen won the first general recall election, capturing two thirds of the vote in Wisconsin’s 30th Senate District. Nobody expected Hansen’s opponent to win, but it was an indicator of just disorganized and unfocused the state’s “ruling” party really is right now. Republicans hold all three of the district’s Assembly seats. Their inability to field a credible challenge puts them in a less desirable situation going into the coming recall elections, in which the GOP will be trying to defend a half dozen seats in comparison to two for the Dems. Coming up, next door’s Republican Sen. Rob Cowles faces former Brown County Executive Nancy Nussbaum in another green and gold recall. Could be interesting (because at least the Democrats came up with a credible candidate.)

In the GOP’s most likely chance for a pickup, Kim Simac picked up 59 percent of the vote in the Republican primary in Jim Holperin’s 12th Senate District. This came on the strength of hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. Lincoln County Board Chair Bob Lussow picked up 41 percent of the vote (after maybe spending his lunch money.) Look for this to be a big money race and for Simac to be well defined as a Tea Party extremist who has left a gold mine of intemperate quips along the way, along with background issues that could prove troublesome for her. It’s a decent district for a Republican to run in, with three GOP Assembly districts. That said, I still think Holperin will send Kim riding down the trail when it’s all said and done. Sen. Holperin has the unpleasant distinction of having faced (and won) a prior recall during the Chippewa treaty rights blowup, when he was in the Wisconsin State Assembly. He’s a solid moderate with an impressive resume in a place that sent Democrat Roger Breske back time after time.

In the 22nd Senate District, Chicagoland attorney Jonathan Steitz won the GOP primary for the right to face Democratic Sen. Bob Wirch. A telling indicator: far less people voted in the primary than signed the petitions to force the election in the first place. This one is clearly a very long shot for the Republicans and they will have far more pressing needs over the next few weeks than to flush too much money into what looks to be a loser for them.

So with eight recall elections coming featuring six GOP incumbents in the coming weeks, Wisconsin Republicans are now looking at a net loss of state senate seats and it’s really a question of how many – not “if.”

JR

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