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Decision day looms for recall elections

By ?SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

Brian Reilly, a worker at the schoolhouse where the modern Republican Party was founded in Ripon, talks about why he will support the Democratic candidate in one of six state Senate recall elections. Reilly said he previously voted for Republican incumbent Sen. Luther Olsen, who ran twice unopposed, but was disgusted with how Republicans in control of the Senate pushed through Gov. Scott Walker's bill taking away most public employees' collective bargaining rights earlier this year. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The final push was on across Wisconsin Monday in advance of recall elections that have shattered spending records, served as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker’s Republican revolution and previewed the expected presidential fight in 2012.

Tuesday’s unprecedented election targeting six Republicans could swing majority control of the state Senate to the Democrats, giving them the power to block the GOP agenda.

Two incumbent Democrats face recalls of their own next week. New reports in those races covering spending by the four candidates were due on Tuesday.

To date, candidates in all nine recall races have spent about $5 million, which is far overshadowed by the estimated $26 million additional spent by outside interest groups involved in the races.

That is nearly as much as the $37 million that was spent in the entire 2010 governor’s race.

Powerful political forces have been at play on both sides of the recalls. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the RNC was doing all it could to help the GOP candidates and a bus tour by the Tea Party Express was scheduled to conclude on Monday with stops in Rhinelander and De Pere.

On the Democrats’ side, national unions including the AFL-CIO and AFSCME are a part of one of the largest spending groups in the recalls, a coalition called We Are Wisconsin. And President Barack Obama’s political arm at the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, pulled together volunteers over the weekend for a final get-out-the-vote effort.

The six Republican incumbents facing recalls on Tuesday are Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, Alberta Darling of River Hills, Luther Olsen of Ripon, Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, Rob Cowles of Allouez and Dan Kapanke of La Crosse.

If three or more of them lose, Democrats could regain control of the Senate depending on the outcome of two elections next week targeting Democratic incumbents. If Democrats win five or six of Tuesday’s election, the outcome of next week’s races are moot because they will have more than enough seats to take the majority.

Democratic incumbent Sens. Jim Holperin of Conover and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie face recalls on Aug. 16.

There is a chance that Republicans could call a lame-duck session before Democrats would take over majority control. The earliest the results of Tuesday’s election could be certified is Aug. 16 and it must be done by Aug. 24, assuming there are no recounts.

Newly elected senators cannot be sworn in until after the results are certified. Incumbents do not need to be sworn in again.

The recalls are unprecedented both in Wisconsin and nationwide. There has never been such a large group of sitting lawmakers targeted. A ninth lawmaker, Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay, won his recall last month.

Until this year, there had been just 20 attempts to recall lawmakers from office since 1913 and only 13 were successful.

Democratic Wisconsin state Sen. Jim Holperin of Conover, who faces his election on Aug. 16, was also the target of a recall in 1990 when he was a member of the state Assembly. He survived that attempt, which was generated by is support of the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa band’s treaty rights enabling them to spearfish.

The last Wisconsin state lawmaker to be recalled from office was Gary George in 2003, who was removed after facing felony corruption charges. Only one other Wisconsin lawmaker has been recalled from office: Republican Sen. George Petak in 1996 for going back on a promise to oppose the Miller Park sales tax.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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