Booby Prize: WI Dems Hope to Win Out-of-Session State Senate

Booby Prize: WI Dems Hope to Win Out-of-Session State Senate

As the recall of Governor Scott Walker slips out of their grasp, unions and Democrats are crowing about their chances to flip one of the four state Senate seats also on the ballot today and seize control of the Wisconsin state Senate. If that were to happen, though, it would be a pyrrhic victory because of the tens of millions of dollars unions have spent. The state Senate has already adjourned for the year and is unlikely to ever meet in session again.

The Hill reports the new spin today:

Despite expressions of confidence, Walker’s adversaries spent the eve of the vote trying to salvage cold comfort as polls showed their man — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) — heading for defeat.

They pointed, for example, to the fact that Democrats appear set to regain control of the state Senate, which could reduce Walker’s effectiveness as governor. But citing a probable down-ballot victory emphasized the fact that the left’s main goal seems out of reach.

One Democrat official commented:

[Walker] is going to come out of this thing battered even if he wins. … If it’s a Democratic state Senate, that weakens him even more.

Polling has been sparse in the four Senate districts, so I’m not sure how “probable” the Dems victory actually is. The races are on generally GOP turf. If the race between Walker and Barrett is really close, it is certainly possible the Dems can take the Senate. After all, they only need to win one out of four races on the ballot. But, if Walker wins the recall by a wide margin, which isn’t out of the question, its hard to see how Dems can take the Senate. 

Even if they were to take the Senate, that wouldn’t particularly weaken Walker, as the current Senate will likely never again meet in session. It adjourned for the year in March. It isn’t scheduled to meet again until January, next year, after a whole new round of state Senate elections. 

In November, all state Senators are back on the ballot, this time in new districts as a result of redistricting. The new districts maps were drawn by the GOP, so the party would have an immediate advantage in taking back control of the chamber. 

Its understandable the Dems and unions are desperate to spin their probable loss of a multi-million dollar bet. But, winning control of a “shadow” Senate that only meets in the minds of union bosses seems like a very hollow victory.