Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dems Pick Up Two Seats in Wisconsin Recalls, But Fall One Short of Goal

The pro-worker campaign in Wisconsin to put a halt to Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting programs fell just one race short overnight when the recall election bid came down to late-night vote-counting by the most notorious county clerk in America.

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus arguably may be the most incompetent ballot tally-taker in America, but state Democrats indicated at this point they will not go after the woman who twice this year saw key elections come down to her suspect skills.

"We will not pursue questions of irregularities," said state Democratic Chairman Mike Tate, who in an earlier in a heated moment during the final, delayed vote-counting in six recall races accused her of "tampering with the results of a consequential election."

"The race to determine control of the Wisconsin Senate has fallen in the hands of the Waukesha County clerk, who has already distinguished herself as incompetent, if not worse," Tate said in a prepared statement.

In April, Nickolaus reversed the outcome of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race to favor incumbent Republican Justice David Prosser, when she announced a late-night vote-counting mistake in which omitted the results of the town of Brookfield.

In 2005, Nickolaus passed out sample ballot in a special election that included a mark showing a vote for the Republican candidate.

In 2002, as a staffer in the state Republican Caucus Nickolaus was at the center of a scheme in which officials from both major parties convicted of illegally using state equipment in elections. She escaped jail time when she flipped on her colleagues and was given immunity in exchange for fingering others in the scandal.

Nickolaus raised eyes last year when it became known she keeps vote tallies on her personal computer instead of county equipment.

When the dust cleared in the controversial suburban Milwaukee race, GOP state Sen. Alberta Darling defeated Democratic state Rep. Sandy Pasch, and Republicans won the fourth out of six races yesterday to maintain control of the state Senate.

Despite the setback, Democrats picked up two seats, but must defend two others in recall elections next week.

The next focal point will be the Tea Party- and big-money backed GOP governor. Recall organizers say they still will go ahead later this year with plans to collect the more than 500,000 signatures needed in order to trigger a recall election to remove the Walker 

“I think the recall efforts will go forward. Maybe not with as much momentum as they would have had, had they regained control (of the Senate), but it was enough of a victory for the Democrats that they, I think, will still go ahead,” University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist David Canon told public radio.

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