- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin state Sen. Van Wanggaard said Tuesday he will not challenge his loss in last month’s recall election, effectively conceding the race to his Democratic rival.

Mr. Wanggaard, a Republican, lost to John Lehman by 819 votes, or about 1 percent of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast in the June 5 recall. Mr. Wanggaard demanded a recount, which affirmed his loss.

The recount results left Mr. Wanggaard with two choices: concede the race or file a challenge by Tuesday. His campaign chose not to challenge, clearing the way for state election officials to certify the race Wednesday morning and make the outcome official.

“Despite pleas from around the state to challenge the election, it is not in the best interests of Racine, or Wisconsin, at this time,” Mr. Wanggaard said in a statement. “Now is the time to focus on gaining the state senate back in November, winning Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat and electing Gov. (Mitt) Romney as president.”

Mr. Wanggaard said he will challenge Mr. Lehman for the seat when the term ends in 2014.

The win hands Democrats their lone victory out of last month’s six recall elections and gives them a 17-16 edge in the state Senate.

However, their majority may be short-lived. Sixteen senators are up for elections in the fall, and those races will determine which party has control over the next two years. Thanks to a Republican-friendly legislative district map passed last year, the GOP has reason to be confident about its prospects for future control.

Democrats organized the recall against Mr. Wanggaard, Gov. Scott Walker and four other Republicans as payback for supporting Mr. Walker’s push to strip most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.

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