State Senate meets to transfer power to Democrats

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MADISON -- Wisconsin's state Senate recently changed hands -- from Republican control to Democratic control, as a result of the recall elections. Senator John Lehman won Wisconsin's 21st Senate District seat from Republican Van Wanggaard after a recount, giving Democrats the majority, at least until November.

After 13 recall elections in the space of a year, all aimed at flipping Wisconsin's Senate, power shifted at the Capitol into Democratic hands.

The Wisconsin state Senate convened Tuesday, July 17th for one of the most important acts in a democracy -- the peaceful post-election transfer of power from one party to another.

Democratic Senator Mark Miller of Monona became the Senate's majority leader.

New senators, Republican Jerry Petrowski of Marathon and Lehman, took the ceremonial oath of office from Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

Senator Scott Fitzgerald, now the minority leader, warned Democrats that their time in power could be fleeting.

"I am confident we will regain the majority this fall, so we can keep Wisconsin moving forward," Fitzgerald said.

Afterward, Fitzgerald essentially said outside of a session, the majority is meaningless.

"The Democrats want bigger offices and a few new parking spots, and they're going to get those -- beyond that it won't make many changes to the body itself," Fitzgerald said.

Miller was a bit more optimistic.

"I don't want to preclude any outcome until I've had a chance to have a discussion with the Governor and the Assembly majority leader," Miller said.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald says he won't call the Assembly into a special session on health care exchanges, but he would for another vote on the GOP version of the mining bill.

"I think you're seeing more political theater that's going on right now," Fitzgerald said.

In a sort of sequel to Gov. Scott Walker's "Brat Summit" earlier this summer, Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller invited every senator to a steak dinner.

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