The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the States

Today's gubernatorial election in Wisconsin may be the state's most high profile recall, but it is by no means the first.

In dubious honor of the impending Wisconsin recall election, this week’s Politics of the States will be dedicated to that most polarized of states, the Badger State.

– It’s conventional wisdom that Governor Scott Walker will fend off challenger Tom Barrett today. A more unknown quantity is how the down ticket races, for State Senate and Lieutenant Governor, will play out. Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post takes a look at a couple of unexpected possibilities: Republicans keeping the governor’s mansion while Democrats either take the State Senate or win the Lieutenant Governor race. (Wisconsin elects the positions separately, so firefighters’ union head Mahlon Mitchell could well end up Walker’s lieutenant.) [The Washington Post]

–  With polls tightening up in recent days and Walker seemingly unable to cross the 50% threshold with Wisconsin voters, that state’s Democrats are gearing up for yet another grueling, divisive recount (a sequel, perhaps, to last year’s month-long nailbiter of a supreme court election). State and national Republicans refuse to comment on the prospect, but the Wisconsin Democratic Party has some 440 lawyers ready to go across the state today in case a recount is necessary. [POLITICO]

While Wisconsin’s recent political acrimony is well-known and widely-documented, less famous is that state’s lengthy history of recall elections, both successful and unsuccessful:


  • 1996: State Senator George Petak (R-Racine)
  • 2002: Milwaukee Country Executive F. Thomas Ament
  • 2002: Milwaukee County Board Chair Karen Ordinans
  • 2002: Milwaukee County Supervisors Penny Podell, LeAnn Launstein, David Jasenski, Kathy Arciszewski, James McGuigan, and Linda Ryan
  • 2003: State Senator Gary George (D-Milwaukee)
  • 2011: State Senators Randy Hopper (R-Fond Du Lac) and Dan Kapanke (R-French Island)
  • 2012: Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan


  • 1932: State Senator Otto Mueller (R-Wausau)
  • 2011: State Senators Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie), and Jim Holperin (D-Conover)

For those of you keeping count at home, that’s 13 recalled elected officials and 8 unsuccessful attempts, all but one of which were in the 15 years between 1996 and 2011, in addition to the 6 officials up for recall today (Gov. Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, and 4 Republicans in the State Senate).

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