Day of reckoning arrives tomorrow for 6 Wisconsin Republican senators facing recall

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August 8, 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

MADISON, Wisconsin: Voters head to the polls tomorrow in Wisconsin to determine whether six incumbent Republican senators will survive recall attempts. Polls will be open from 7am-8pm CST. Ballotpedia will display results here as they become available.

New polls

Four new polls conducted by Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos released today show Republican incumbents leading in three races, with a Democratic challenger leading in one. All four polls detail increases for the Republican incumbents as compared to previous polls conducted by the same organization.

The polls, conducted August 5-7, all have a margin of error below +/- 3.5 percent. Here are the results:

August 9, 2011 Recall - District 10 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Sheila Harsdorf Ends.png Republican 54%
Shelly Moore Electiondot.png Democratic 42%
Undecided 4%
August 9, 2011 Recall - District 14 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Fred Clark Electiondot.png Democratic 47%
Luther Olsen Ends.png Republican 50%
Undecided 3%
August 9, 2011 Recall - District 18 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Jessica King Electiondot.png Democratic 48%
Randy Hopper Ends.png Republican 49%
Undecided 3%
August 9, 2011 Recall - District 32 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll
Candidate Party Percent
Jennifer Shilling Electiondot.png Democratic 54%
Dan Kapanke Ends.png Republican 43%
Undecided 3%

Meanwhile, an August 3 private memo obtained by ‘’Politico from We Are Wisconsin to its donors indicates that the left-leaning group believes district 32 will be the only “safe pick-up.” In the memo, WAW field director Kristen Crowell writes, "In our final days, we remain cautiously optimistic about our chances to take back the Senate. But predictions of victory at this point are beyond premature – they’re dangerous."[1]

Below are more details on tomorrow’s elections and the last time the incumbent was on a ticket.

District 2

Sen. Robert Cowles (R) has served since 1987. He faces former Brown County board member Nancy Nusbaum (D).

In 2008 Cowles won re-election to the Senate unopposed.[2]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 2 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Robert Cowles (R) 60,507

District 8

Sen. Alberta Darling (R) has served since 1993. She faces freshman Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch (D).

In 2008 Darling won re-election to the Senate by just over 1,000 votes.[3]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 8 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Alberta Darling (R) 50,125
Sheldon Wasserman 49,118

District 10

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R) has served since 2001. She faces high school teacher Shelly Moore (D).

In 2008 Harsdorf easily won re-election to the Senate.[4]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 10 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Sheila Harsdorf (R) 55,816
Alison Page 43,041

District 14

Sen. Luther Olsen (R) has served since 2005. He faces freshman Assemblyman Fred Clark (D).

In 2008 Olsen won re-election to the Senate unopposed.[5]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 14 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Luther Olsen (R) 54,138

District 18

Sen. Randy Hopper (R) has served since 2009. He faces Deputy Mayor of Oshkosh Jessica King (D) in a rematch of the 2008 senate race.

In 2008 Hopper was elected to the Senate by less than 200 votes.[6]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 18 (2008)
Candidates Votes Percent
Randy Hopper (R) 41,904 50.05%
Jessica King (D) 41,741 49.86%

District 32

Sen. Dan Kapanke (R) has served since 2005. He faces Jennifer Shilling (D), who has served in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2001.

In 2008 Kapanke won re-election to the Senate by less than 3,000 votes.[7]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 32 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Dan Kapanke (R) 45,454
Tara Johnson (D) 42,647

Record spending

With total spending for the recalls estimated to be at $40 million, campaign spending records are being broken left and right. Five of the nine races have already beat the state legislative race record of $3 million, set back in 2000. According to Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, "Candidates are barely being heard from. They're being outspent on the order of 5-1 by interest groups that have a near monopoly on campaign spending."[8] As of August 5, 31 registered interest groups have spent about $13.2 million while McCabe estimates spending by unregistered groups has eclipsed the $13 million mark.[9]

While it is impossible to tell which side is leading in the spending war, indications seem to show that Democratic interests are outspending Republican interests. We Are Wisconsin, by far the largest contributor supporting Democrats, has reported $7.9 million in spending thus far. On the Republican side spending has been distributed among a larger number of groups, with Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity on the top of the list. CFG is estimated to have spent between $3-4 million on issue ads.[10] We Are Wisconsin recently called on CFG and AFP to disclose their donors and spending, an act which they called “critical for the health of democracy in Wisconsin and across the country.”[11]

See also


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