A half-dozen recall elections today in Wisconsin will be the first real political test for Republican lawmakers who support the Tea Party's anti-public worker agenda.
Tens of millions of dollars from around the country have flowed into Wisconsin, where six GOP state senators are facing recall elections in reaction to GOP Gov. Scott Walkers' politically charged decision to strip collective bargain rights away from from public employees and cut their retirement and health care benefits.
Two Democratic state senators face recalls next week. A third Democrat survived a recall challenge last month. Republicans have a 19-14 advantage in the Wisconsin state Senate, so Democrats need to win five of the remaining eight elections to gain control of the chamber and put a lid on Walker's anti-worker agenda.
In a clear example of just how much of a national event this has become, President Obama's re-election operation, Organizing for America, and the GOP-backed Tea Party Express have had people on the ground in Wisconsin running get out the vote efforts. The Repuiblican National Committee is also lending its support.
Spending may reach $40 million, tripling the total cost of all 115 Wisconsin state legislative races in 2010, according to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
A major backer of the Tea Party, the Washington-based Club for Growth, a right-wing group with a reputation for challenging mainstream Republicans, along with the anti-union organization Americans for Prosperity, another Tea Party sugar daddy funded by oil barons David and Charles Koch, are throwing the most money into the races on behalf of the Republicans.
Americans for Prosperity has directly supported and counseled Walker on his anti-worker agenda.
On the Democratic side, unions, from around the country led by the AFL-CIO, and the local progressive pro-worker organization Greater Wisconsin Committee, have pumped millions of dollars to their candidates. The Greater Wisconsin Committee gets money from around the country from unions and left-leaning fat-cat funders.
It is considered extraordinary to hold nine state legislative recall elections within a month, since only 20 have been conducted nationwide since the early 20th century, political historians have noted.