Looking at the WI Repub Senators Targeted For Recall

First off, hello Red State.  This is my first foray into posting here, but I have dropped a couple of comments, and have been a ‘loyal lurker’ for months.  I want to take a look at the bleating coming from the left about the recall effort of the 8 Republican senators that are eligible for a recall election, and try to get a realistic feel on what chance they have of actually pulling this off.

Before I begin, a couple of caveats.

I am not a political operative, nor am I living in or ever been a resident of Wisconsin.  I say that because it’s difficult to ‘read the tea leaves’ to gauge the genuine anger and motivation of the Wisconsin electorate.  If you were to believe the news reports, the protests at the Capitol reflect a vast majority of Wisconsinites, but as I look at the video, I see mostly college students looking for a reason to camp out in the rotunda and skip class.  And as I go to alternate outlets for my information, I don’t find that to be the case.  In other words, those of us that are standing with Walker aren’t doing it in front of the Capitol, and we will marshal our forces if/when recall becomes a reality.

Secondly, I don’t know, and I haven’t been able to find, the Rep-Dem breakdown for the districts that these senators represent, but I can make some logical assumptions based on past results.

So, let me try this, and if anyone can give supporting documentation in the comments to bolster what I believe to be true, please do, and thanks in advance.

Okay, the eight Republicans who can be recalled right now are:


Robert Cowles, Ran unopposed in District 2

Alberta Darling, won by just over 1,000 votes in District 8

Sheila Harsdorf, won with 56% of the vote in District 10.

Luther Olsen, ran unopposed in District 14

Randy Hopper, Won by under 200 votes in the 18th district (2008, open seat)

Glenn Grothman, Won 80% of the vote in district 20

Mary Lazich, Ran unopposed in district 28

Dan Kapanke, Won by just under 3,000 votes of 87,000 cast in District 32


I live in a solid Democratic congressional district in Illinois, and my representative (Jerry Costello) has ran unopposed more than once, and whenever the Republican party has managed to run somebody, they’ve had a next to impossible time to get any traction in a full campaign, much less a truncated recall effort.

So if we look at the senators who ran unopposed (Cowles, Olsen, and Lazich) I think it’s safe to say that they are in solid Republican districts, and I would bet that Democrats will have a hard time getting enough signatures to trigger a recall.  They should be safe.

Next, let’s look at Harsdorf and Grothman.  Winning with 80% of the vote is essentially running unopposed, but his opponent garnered 17,113 votes.  According to this site here, Democrats in Grothman’s district will need to gather 20,061 signatures, which seems fairly doable based on his opponents 2008 vote total.  So he could be recalled, but it would still take a significant effort to remove him from office.  Sheila Harsdorf won handily, but with 43,000 people voting for her opponent, and a signature requirement of just under 19,000, I think she’ll face a special election.  Based on the demographics of the last election, it will be difficult to unseat her, as well.  Oh, interesting side note.  Her biggest political donor in her last election was a group that called themselves ‘Pound Feinstein’, lol.

That leaves three senators who might be vulnerable, depending on the voting demographics of their district.  Hopper, Darling, and Kapanke won by a combined vote total of around 4,000, the slimmest being Hopper, who won by under 200 votes.  As close as those elections were, it seems to me that the signature threshold will be reached on all three, and they will have to face a recall election.

But keep a couple things in mind.  All three of these senators were elected to office in 2008, during an historic wave election for Democrats.  Obama carried Wisconsin by over 400,000 votes (app 15% points) over McCain, and Wisconsin is one of the most traditional Democratic voting states…and they won.

 In 2010, the Republican wave hit Wisconsin harder than the Democratic wave did in 2008, and with all the caterwauling going on in Madison, I don’t really know how much of that outrage is genuine enough to motivate people to get signatures, find a candidate, raise money, campaign, and then unseat an entrenched incumbent.

An entrenched incumbent who will probably receive as much financial backing as their opponent will, while fighting on friendly ground.

So will some of these senators face a recall?  Yes, probably.  Will they actually be recalled and lose?  I find that difficult.  The most passion you’ll find in Wisconsin is today, and as we get this farther in the rear view mirror, the passion drops a little more.  So no, I don’t see it happening.