Senate Remains 17-16

The last of the nine Senate recall elections are over and the final result is a 17-16 Republican majority. Democratic incumbent state Sen. Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin held their seats in recall elections held yesterday, August 16th.

In the 12th Senate District, incumbent Jim Holperin (D-Conover) defeated challenger Kim Simac (R-Eagle River) by a 55/45% margin. This was the second recall attempt of his political career. In the 22nd Senate District, incumbent Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) defeated challenger Jonathan Steitz (R-Pleasant Prairie) by a 58/42% margin.

Both Senators suggested that their victories will change the culture of the Senate in the coming session. Holperin stated that his reelection will “signal the start of a new era of a moderate approach to public policy, starting with the governor.” Wirch also spoke of moderation, “I think there will be a different tone,” he said. “I believe even the governor is talking a more moderate way because he’s worried about being recalled. Maybe they’ll even follow up that moderate talk with some moderate action.”

One possible issue for the Senate to address is recall elections. The next legislative session starts in September, and some in the state are suggesting that recall reform should be one of the legislature’s priorities. The Wisconsin Constitution outlines the recall process in Article XIII, Sec. 12, so a constitutional amendment would be necessary to modify the process. Article XII, Sec. 1 provides that a constitutional amendment must pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature and then be approved in statewide referendum. Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) is currently drafting a recall reform proposal, but the details have yet to be released.