- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Republican Gov. Scott Walker won his recall election, but he may have a tougher time getting things through the Wisconsin Legislature after Democrats appear to have successfully recalled a Republican state senator, which would flip the balance of power in the state.

With all precincts reporting, Democrat John Lehman led incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard, a Republican, 51 percent to 49 percent.

Three other Republican senators overwhelmingly won their recall elections, but after two other successful recalls last year, Democrats needed just one Senate seat to flip their way to gain control of the chamber.

Labor unions, which fought bitterly to unseat Mr. Walker, took some comfort in the Senate news.

“The defeat of one of Scott Walker’s allies will put a much needed check on Walker’s attacks on middle-class families and help turn the page on one of the most divisive periods in Wisconsin political history, said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “The newly-elected senator has pledged to work to heal the political wounds of their state and bring workers, families and communities back together again for the good of the state.”

Mr. Walker, who became the first governor in American history to survive a recall election, sounded a conciliatory note himself in his victory speech Tuesday night. He told voters he had learned much over his year and a half in office, and he  vowed to gather legislators of both parties together for a beer-and-bratwurst get-together to find common ground they could move forward.

The critical Lehman-Wanggaard Senate race in Racine was still undecided when Mr. Walker spoke.

The race was a do-over of 2010, when Mr. Wanggaard unseated Mr. Lehman. This time around, Mr. Lehman emerged on top by 779 votes, according to unofficial tallies collected by the Associated Press.

In the other three Senate recall elections, Republicans won handily. The closest of those races was 57 percent to 43 percent in favor of the GOP.

Last year, Democrats and labor unions forced recall elections for six Republican senators who had aided Mr. Walker in his push to strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights, and the GOP retaliated by forcing recall elections of three Democratic senators.

All three Democratic incumbents won, and two of the Democratic challengers also unseated Republicans, but that still left the GOP with a one-seat edge in the state Senate. Mr. Lehman’s election now appears to flip the chamber.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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