Residents in Glendale, Wis., which is also also Sen. Alberta Darling’s district, line up Tuesday, July 12, 2011, to vote in a Democratic primary election ahead of a recall election next month. Darling is one of six Republican state senators being targeted for recall for supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill. Three Democratic state senators are also being targeted for recall for fleeing the state to stall action on the bill. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde) (AP)

Wisconsin recall elections kick off

The next phase in the state's historic battle over union rights begins tonight


Natasha Lennard
July 19, 2011 7:20PM (UTC)

A series of nine Wisconsin recall elections will kick off Tuesday, with Democratic state senator Dave Hansen defending his seat against Republican challenger David Vanderleest.

This, the first of nine recall elections, will not be much of a fight. Wisconsin Republicans had seen Hansen as plausibly beatable, but according to Public Polling Policy (which conducts surveys for the liberal Daily Kos), Hansen enjoys a 28-point lead (62-34 percent) over Vanderleest.

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Vanderleest was not even the first pick as challenger: The GOP's original favorite, state Rep. John Nygren, failed to get sufficient signatures to even get on the ballot. Vanderleest, meanwhile, has series of previous arrests on his record stemming from altercations with his wife (as the Green Bay Press Gazette detailed.) The Daily Kos described  him as "a piece of work."

Republicans are already looking past this race, holding out hope that they will be able to recall two other incumbent Democrats, Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch. A total of six Republicans will also face recall elections this summer. For Democrats, the stakes are high. If they can unseat three Republicans, they take control of the state Senate, which would add momentum to their push to recall Gov. Scott Walker. After all, it was in response to Walker's plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights that recall efforts against Republicans began in the first place. (The Democratic state senators facing recall were targeted by the GOP for fleeing the state to delay the vote on Walker's plan.)

The next recall elections are scheduled for Aug. 9, when the six Republicans will face their Democratic challengers. Then, on Aug. 16 Wirch and Holperin will defend their seats against Republicans (according to National Journal Hotline, Holperin offers the GOP the best chance for a pick up).


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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