Badger State Rising
I wanted to write this piece before the election, so that it won't look like rationalization in the event of an Obama victory. But this seems like an overlooked story:
Whatever happens at the presidential level, conservatives in Wisconsin will be still be ascendant after today election: Scott Walker will still be governor and Republicans will have strong -- maybe even stronger --majorities in both the Assembly and the Senate, ensuring continuing support for his agenda.
Plus, in the event of a Romney loss, we wake up Wednesday morning knowing that a Wisconsinite is the front-runner in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.
But back to Walker.
In 2010, no state switched as decisively from Blue to Red as Wisconsin. Before the 2010 election, Democrats controlled the governorship, both houses of the Legislature and all the levers of power in state government. After that election, they controlled none. As a result, Walker was able to advance one of the boldest agendas of any governor in the country.
And on Wednesday -- after two years of turmoil, protests and recall elections -- he will be positioned to move ahead aggressively.
Here are some rough projections of what seems likely to happen tonight in the Wisconsin legislature:
Republicans are likely to retake control of the senate, by adding two seats, positioning them to take an 18-15 majority in January. The GOP has a virtual lock on the seat now held by Democrat Jim Holperin in northern Wisconsin. (Holperin retired.) They are also likely to knock off Dem Jessica King, who was elected in a recall election last year.
In the Assembly, even with the likely defeat of three Republican incumbents (Wynn, Knilans and Rivard), the GOP will likely pick up several seats held now by Democrats or independents (Cullen, Jorgensen, Staskunas, Ziegelbauer).
Insiders think that at least three other Democrats are vulnerable, raising the possibility that the GOP's current 59 seat majority, could expand to as high as 62 seats in the 99-seat house.
This would be quite remarkable, given the events of the last two years and would strengthen Walker's hand going into the second half of his term.
It would also mean that Walker would be empowered to pursue the kind of conservative agenda that has already made him a national political figure.
In other words, Wisconsin will continue to be ground zero in the conservative revolution.