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Democrats, Risser take control of Senate

Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, the longest serving state lawmaker in the country, was elected Senate president Tuesday in Madison. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

Democrats officially took control of the state Senate on Tuesday, electing Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, president. Risser, the longest serving state lawmaker in the country, has served 56 years in the Legislature.

Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, was elected president pro tempore. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley administered the oaths of offices.

Risser stood at the microphone to loud cheers from onlookers in the gallery. He waived his chance to make a speech, instead saying he was honored to serve again as Senate president.

The transfer of power represents Democrats’ only victory in the June 5 recall elections. Former Sen. Van Wanggard, R-Racine, lost to challenger John Lehman, giving the Democrats a 17-16 majority.

Van Wanggard then demanded a recount, only conceding last week after the results showed he’d lost by more than 800 votes.

The election was officially certified and Lehman was sworn in Monday. But so far, the Democrats’ win is purely symbolic. Half the body’s seats are up for election in November and regular floor sessions aren’t scheduled until January. Democrats have pressed Gov. Scott Walker to call another special session on job creation, but he’s indicated he’ll do so only with broad bipartisan support for a set of narrowly defined bills.

— Amy Karon

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