The recall coverage just doesn’t stop! My latest piece for the Journal Sentinel looks into the official totals in Racine, and hints at the requested recount to come.
By Alison Bauter
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Madison - An official count Tuesday determined that Democrat John Lehman indeed won the Senate recall election in Racine, but Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard has yet to concede and is considering a recount, leaving the issue of Senate majority undecided.
The seat’s ownership, and Democrats’ control of the Senate, remained an open question after the June 5 recall election. Racine County’s Board of Canvassers said Tuesday the final vote tally is 36,351 to 35,517, yielding an 834-vote victory in Lehman’s favor.
The canvassers’ official tally put Lehman an additional 55 votes ahead of last week’s unofficial findings because one polling place did not report votes from a touch-screen polling machine, Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen said.
Lehman, who declared victory the morning after the election, said the board’s findings reinforced his confidence in the win. Lehman is a former senator who lost to Wanggaard in the November 2010 election.
In a statement to the news media last Tuesday, Wanggaard cited outstanding absentee ballots, voting irregularities and countywide problems in clerks’ unofficial vote totals as reasons he wasn’t conceding. Christensen said the county clerk’s office hasn’t received reports of irregularities from voters.
Wanggaard is still considering whether to ask for a recount, according to Dan Romportl, executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. Wanggaard has until 5 p.m. Friday to do so. Should he request a recount, the cost will total $685, according to the Government Accountability Board.
Democrats quickly disdained the idea, referring to a possible recount as a “futile delay,” in a statement released by the State Senate Democratic Committee.
Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona), who becomes majority leader if Democrats take the Senate, suggested in a statement the recount was a “political game” Republicans might play in order to “hold onto their power.”
“We have done many smooth transfers of power before in the middle of terms and I hope Senate Republicans will not resort to new partisan depths to try to overturn the balance of power that the voters have clearly asked for,” Miller said.
Assuming results stay the same, delaying Lehman’s win with a recount could maintain the Senate’s 17-16 Republican majority for up to a month, feasibly long enough to pass legislation should the governor call a special session.
Romportl and other Republicans did not respond to Miller’s comments.