The Wisconsin state Senate recalls of 2011 -- in which tens of millions of dollars and countless man-hours were spent, almost resembling Congressional races -- are officially over. Tuesday night, Democratic incumbents Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch fended off their Republican challengers, for a final state Senate margin of 17 Republicans to 16 Democrats, just shy of the Dems' original goal of taking control of the chamber via recalls.
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The Associated Press has projected both Holperin and Wirch as the winners in their respective races. With 78% of precincts reporting in Holperin's race, he led Republican opponent Kim Simac by 54%-46%. With 99% reporting in Wirch's race, he won by a margin of 57%-43%.
Holperin was always considered the most vulnerable Democrat. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's rankings of the state Senate districts shows, Holperin represents the most Republican-leaning district that is currently held by a Democrat. It voted 57.4%-40.8% for Scott Walker in the Republican wave of 2010, though before that Barack Obama carried it 52.7%-45.7% during the 2008 Democratic wave. But in the end, he pulled through the challenge, and by a wider margin than his original 51%-49% election to the seat in 2008.
Another fun fact: This was Holperin's second recall of his political career. Back in 1990, then-state Rep. Holperin faced a recall election in a backlash over the more local issue of newly-reinstated Native American spearfishing rights. Holperin won that election, later went on to be state Tourism Secretary, and in 2008 was narrowly elected to the state Senate by 51%-49% in an open-seat race, to succeed a retiring Democrat.