- Associated Press - Monday, July 2, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Recount results released Monday show Democrat John Lehman defeated incumbent Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard in last month’s recall races, moving Democrats closer to seizing control of the chamber.

The official canvas after the June 5 elections showed Mr. Lehman leading Mr. Wanggaard by 834 votes out of nearly 72,000 ballots cast in Racine County’s 21st Senate District — a victory that would give Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate. Mr. Wanggaard, however, refused to concede and demanded the recount.

The final tally from the Racine County clerk’s office Monday showed Mr. Lehman winning by 819 votes, with the Democrat tallying 36,358 votes to Mr. Wanggaard’s 35,539.

The results are good news for Democrats, but the party doesn’t yet have control of the Senate. State law calls for the Government Accountability Board to wait five business days before it can certify the results and declare Mr. Lehman the official winner.

Mr. Wanggaard said in a statement immediately after the recall results were released that he would take the a few days to consider his next move.

His campaign officials previously have hinted they may file a lawsuit alleging a number of voters who registered at the polls didn’t sign a supplemental poll list. It’s unclear how many voters failed to sign; an accountability board spokesman said he was told it was between 100 and 200. Mr. Wanggaard has until July 10, the end of the GAB’s certification waiting period, to file any challenges.

Even if Democrats do win control of the chamber, they won’t immediately be able to do much with it. The Senate isn’t expected to convene again until January, and Democrats will have to defend their new majority before then in November’s elections.

Democrats forced Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Mr. Wanggaard and three other GOP state senators into recalls earlier this year as payback for supporting Mr. Walker’s push to strip most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. One of the lawmakers, state Sen. Pam Galloway of Wausau, resigned rather than defend her seat, creating a 16-16 split between Democrats and Republicans. State election officials chose to allow the election in her district to go on regardless.

Republican Jerry Petrowski ultimately won Ms. Galloway’s seat, and Republican incumbents other than Mr. Wanggaard successfully beat back challenges. His battle with Mr. Lehman was especially bitter; Mr. Wanggaard defeated Mr. Lehman in the 2010 election to win the seat.



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