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Legislative majority shifts to Democrats after Lehman victory

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MADISON -- If the numbers in Racine's Senate recall election where Democrat John Lehman defeated incumbent Van Wanggaard Tuesday, June 5th hold up, and the state Senate majority shifts to the Democrats, what does that mean for the future of the state? Prior to Lehman's victory, the Senate was evenly split, at 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. With Lehman's victory, there is a new Democratic Senate Majority Leader.

It has been a busy year in Wisconsin's Legislature, as Democrats had little else they could do to impact legislation but try to show outrage or block votes by leaving the state. One Democratic victory in Wisconsin's recall election is changing the balance of power in the state Senate.

Now, with Democrats in control of the Senate, can the two sides now compromise and work together?

"I think we have to say what do we agree on? Do we agree that our overall goal should be to balance our budget, but do it in a way that protects the taxpayer? To grow the economy and get better paying jobs in Wisconsin for all our families in Wisconsin? If we can agree to those principals there's a lot we can do together," Senator Alberta Darling (R - River Hills) said.

"I'm hopeful. We're going to hold Walker to his word that says he's wiling to compromise. The proof is in the pudding if he's actually going to want to sit down for brats and beer. What he's talking about, that's one thing, but if he actually wants to restore funds to education and reprioritize jobs so we're not last in the nation," Senator Chris Larson (D - Milwaukee) said.

The rhetoric and ideology of Democratic and Republican values has not changed.

"We have to remember these aren't the 'sharks' and the 'jets.' These are people who view the world differently. They have a different philosophy about what government stands for about what government ought to do. I think it's reasonable that not withstanding the recall Democrats stand for one thing and Republicans stand for something very different," UWM Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee said.

What will be key is, there is another election in November that could change the balance of power to Republican control once again, and there is no Legislative session scheduled until after that election -- in January.

"The Democrats have something of a empty victory. They're the majority party, but there's nothing to do," Lee said.

Gov. Walker could call a special session to work on laws before January, but he could also wait until after the November election, when some say it is very possible Republicans could once again take over the majority.

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