The hotly contested Wisconsin state Senate races will conclude with the election today, and the results will play a role in determining the political climate in the state for the next few years.
Democrats currently hold a 17-16 majority in the chamber, meaning Republicans need to win just one additional seat to retake the majority in the state Senate.
Lisa Subeck, executive director for United Wisconsin, acknowledged it will be a “closely divided” Senate race. She said Republicans could likely once again regain control after today’s election, noting Republicans have made it easier for their party to take back the Senate.
“Through a highly-partisan and highly-politicized redistricting process, Republicans have stacked the deck in their own favor,” Subeck said.
Subeck said despite this, there are also many progressive voters across the state who are more involved than ever to protect the Wisconsin Senate from becoming Republican-dominated.
The volunteers, Subeck said, are trying to keep the Senate “out of the control of (Gov.) Scott Walker and his extreme Republican colleagues.”
Subeck noted the Senate’s recent trend of switching majority rule as well.
“Anytime one party holds a slim majority it is likely that control may change periodically,” Subeck said.
As for how the election might affect the lives of students in the University of Wisconsin System, Subeck said the difference between who controls the Senate will have great impact on it.
“If the Republicans gain control of the state Senate, Governor Walker will be able to push through more cuts to the UW System and to student financial aid,” Subeck said.
Brad Wojciechowski, spokesperson for the State Senate Democratic Committee, said he is confident the state Senate will retain a Democratic majority.
“We are confident that we will be able to do checks and balances in the Senate,” Wojciechowski said.
According to Wojciechowski, the Democrats’ main goal in keeping the house majority is to “not hemorrhage the backs of students and the middle class.”
Dan Romportl, executive director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, said the Republican incumbents should be safe, and there is a good chance one or more of the seats can be taken away from incumbent Democrats.
As for the Senate’s trend to switch majority parties, Romportl said he is not surprised.
Romportl said the Senate has always been a dynamic legislative body. With only 33 seats, the margin is very close, he said.
According to Romportl, the constant changing also has quite a lot to do with whoever is in the highest office.
“The top of the ticket usually has a lot to do with the swings in Senate partisan control,” Romportl said in an email to The Badger Herald.
According to Romportl, it was the Wisconsin voter’s weariness of Walker’s collective bargaining law that was partially responsible for the Democrats regaining control in the Senate through the use of the recall elections.
He said he feels the Wisconsin people are no longer afraid of Act 10, and the state Senate will see different results.
“Now that voters are seeing that Act 10 was an overwhelming success they have warmed up to the idea of allowing Republicans to continue to implement reforms that are turning our state’s economy around,” Romportl said in the email.