Democratic state Senate candidate John Lehman hugs his wife, Cathie, as… (Scott Anderson / Journal…)
Democrats can claim one victory from last month's Wisconsin recall election -- but it may not last long and might not be worth much.
A recount on Monday concluded that Democratic candidate John Lehman had ousted Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard by 819 votes in a district centering on Racine in south-eastern Wisconsin. That would give Democrats a 17-16 majority in the state Senate once Lehman is formally certified and sworn in. When that will take place remains uncertain because Wanggaard has not conceded and has threatened to go to court.
"As with my decision to pursue the recount, I will spend the next couple of days reviewing the evidence, speaking with voters, supporters and my family before deciding my next step,” the Republican said in a statement. He has until next Tuesday to decide.
Lehman, who led on election night by 834 votes out of just under 72,000 cast in the district, said any further challenges to the election would be a "waste of time."
Lehman's victory is a consolation prize, of sorts, for Democrats, who failed to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the recall election that briefly put Wisconsin on center stage in American politics. But the prize is a dubious one. The Wisconsin Legislature is not scheduled to meet again for the rest of this year, and in November, 16 members of the state Senate are up for reelection.
November's legislative elections will take place in districts newly done after the last census. The new district lines drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature favor the GOP. So Lehman -- and the Democrats -- could well be back in the minority before he has a chance to cast his first vote.