Taking back Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dems are pretty confident they’re going to take back control of the Senate, and I have to agree. Now that voters have seen what’s on Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda, I don’t think they’re going to want to hand him a rubber-stamp Republican senate:

Twenty days into a recall campaign spurred by the state’s rollicking budget fight, Wisconsin Democrats are now predicting that they will be able to take back control of the state Senate this summer.

Statewide, Democrats say they have over fifty percent of the number of petitions they need to recall eight Republican state senators, although they are not over the fifty percent threshold in every district.

“We’re well ahead of schedule,” said Graeme Zielinski, Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman. “I think in mid-summer, you will have a Democratic Senate.” The party would not release detailed percentages of where the party stood in each targeted seat.

To recall a state senator, petitioners must collect signatures equal to one-quarter of votes from that senator’s district in the last gubernatorial race within a 60-day window. There are petitions out for all 16 state senators currently eligible to be recalled (anyone who has served for more than a year) — and that includes Republicans and Democrats. (Here’s a handy list, along with the number of signatures needed in every district). Once recall petitions are filed and deemed valid, a special election would be held in six weeks time.

Republicans control the Senate by a 19-14 margin, meaning Democrats need to flip three seats to take over.

Of the Republicans targeted, two — Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman — are in solidly Republican districts and are likely safe. State Sen. Dan Kapanke seems to be the most vulnerable; his district went 61 percent for President Obama in 2008. The other recall districts went for Obama but by smaller margins. Of those, Randy Hopper and Luther Olsen are viewed by Democratic strategists as particularly good targets.

Hopper, for one, is fighting back aggressively. He’s hired Jeff Harvey, a veteran Republican strategist who has previously worked for Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.). “We have volunteer centers opening up and we have a lot of volunteer efforts throughout the district and we’re making phone calls, going door to door,” said Harvey. “What we’re hearing on the ground is that people are extremely supportive.”

You remember the aptly named “Randy” Hopper. This is the family values guy whose midlife crisis consisted of dumping his wife and moving in with his much-younger lobbyist girlfriend — and then she suddenly and coincidentally got a well-paying state job.

Yeah, I’m sure the people of Wisconsin will flock to his aid.