Updated at 7 p.m. edt
Apparently the two state Senate seats Democrats picked up in recall elections in Wisconsin this month have far-reaching ramifications as word comes now that Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich is ready to make a deal with unions to avoid a similar repeal vote in November.
Like Wisconsin, the GOP-controlled state legislature in Ohio passed a union-busting law banning strikes and limiting rights for more than 350,000 teachers, police officers and other public workers. Unions successfully launched an effort to repeal the law by bringing the issue before the voters of Ohio in November.
With polls showing the majority of Ohioans want the law to be repealed, and seeing how close Democrats came to winning control of the Wisconsin Senate in recall elections, Kasich said today he and other top GOP lawmakers want to sit down tomorrow with unions to work out a deal to avoid a referendum showdown in his state, according to the Associated Press.
About 56% of Ohio voters want the collective bargaining law to be repealed, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, and the unions have loaded up their war chest with about $7 million for the repeal fight.
The same poll shows public support for Kasich slipping.
The Wisconsin recall election season, triggered by GOP Gov. Scott Walker's anti-worker law, is finally over, leaving Republicans with only a one-seat majority in the state Senate.
Two Wisconsin Democratic state senators easily held on to their seats yesterday in the last two of nine recall elections this summer.
The Democrats now have their sights set on Walker, the ultra-conseravtive governor who stripped most public employees in Wisconsin of their collective bargaining rights. They may try to recall Walker early next year, but first need to collect more than 500,000 signatures.
"Democrats won more races, recalled two Republican senators, protected every Democratic incumbent, shifted the balance of power in the state Senate away from conservatives, and forced Walker and the GOP to pay public lip service to moderation and bipartisanship for the first time since they took power in January," Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said.
"All of these facts show that voters gave Democrats the overall victory in this summer’s historic senate recall elections," he added.
The GOP has to be concerned about the newly enlisted rural voters that joined the Democratic ranks as a result of the recalls. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a tough-talking hardliner not known for either eloquence or compromise, is already begging for a truce.
"The problems facing our state are too serious for these political games, and the Democrats' permanent campaign cycle," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "The Democrats need to start working with the other side of the aisle, not just moving on to their next recall target."
Six Republicans and three Democrats were challenged in the recall races that together cost close to $40 million in money spent by outside unions and corporate-backed right-wing groups.
First-term Sen. Jim Holperin was believed to be the most vulnerable Democratic target of the three who were challenged this summer by Republicans, but he coasted to victory yesterday over Tea Party activist Kim Simac.
Holperin knows about recall elections. He was challenged in a recall in 1990 while in the Wisconsin Assembly after he backed tribal spearfishing rights. Holperin won that race.
In the other race, Democratic Sen. Bob Wirch had a cake walk win over GOP political neophyte and corporate lawyer Jonathan Steitz.
There have only been about 20 legislative recall election nationwide since the early 20th century. There have never been as many recalls in one state over a one-month period.