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Recall FAQ: Everything you need to know about Tuesday's elections

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If Democrats finish the recall process with two more seats, they will not have clear control of the Senate, but they will put Dale Schultz in an exceptionally powerful position where -- should he side with the Democrats, as he did on the collective bargaining legislation -- the moderate Republican could tip the balance away from the governor.

Q: SO, WHAT'S A VICTORY?

A: Remember that any seat that flips from Republican to Democrat is a significant win, since all of the targeted Republican senators won election in the 2008 presidential election -- surviving the Obama landslide. The Republicans are incumbents with long track records; they generally represent districts that were drawn to elect Republicans. So displacing any of them is a big deal.

However, the clear goal of the recall effort has been to shift control of the Senate. Winning three or more seats will do that; winning two seats only creates the possibility if Schultz chooses to try and find the middle ground -- probably in conjunction with Cullen.

Q: IF THE DEMOCRATS DO TAKE CONTROL OF THE STATE SENATE, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FROM A POLICY STANDPOINT?

A: Most of the contentious issues of the past six months -- the stripping of collective bargaining rights, the radical redistricting of the state, the passage of a draconian voter ID law -- have inspired court challenges. Any of these issues could be sent back to the Legislature by the courts. If so, a Democratic Senate (or a Republican Senate with Schultz in a position to empower the Democrats) could force Walker and his Republican allies to negotiate -- and ultimately to moderate extreme positions. And if new budget issues arise, as is possible, the Democrats would be positioned to demand better funding of public education, local services and Medicare-based health programs.

Q: AND HOW MIGHT THINGS CHANGE POLITICALLY?

A: If Democrats take control of the Senate, the victory will have long-range political impacts. Efforts to recall Walker, which can begin in November, will be certain to proceed. Additionally, labor and community groups in other states -- such as Ohio and Michigan -- will be emboldened as they pursue referendum and recall strategies to push back against right-wing hegemony. And it is not unreasonable to suggest that President Obama and national Democrats will take note of the popular appeal of a pushback against Republican extremism, especially in the battleground states of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.


Cross-posted from Cap Times

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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