Just a few minutes ago, I had the chance to talk with Democratic State Senator Chris Larson (pictured, left) about today’s historic recall elections.
Asked to share his thoughts on tonight’s results, Larson stated what most pundits believe to be true – that tonight’s elections will be very close. “I think we’re gonna definitely get Jen Schilling elected on the left side of the state, but otherwise, it’s really too close to call,” Sen. Larson added. Larson noted that there have only been 20 recall elections in history of the United States, so having six recall elections in August in Wisconsin means there’s not much to compare to what’s going on in Wisconsin, but he said he was “optimistic” that people saw through the piles of money thrown into Wisconsin by the Koch brothers and will vote for the Democrats challenging the six incumbent Republican State Senators.
Asked specifically about the race pitting incumbent Republican State Senator Alberta Darling against Democratic State Rep. Sandy Pasch, Larson noted the “amazing amount of money being spent,” as well as the extremely negative ads being aired and mailers being sent out by both the Darling campaign and third party right-wing groups supporting Sen. Darling’s campaign. Sen. Larson noted that the negative turn taken by Sen. Darling and the right-wing groups supporting her campaign shows that they’re not standing up on the issues; they’re just going negative.
Our conversation turned to Sen. Larson’s tour around Wisconsin to help the six Democrats challenging the incumbent Republicans, Larson said he was received pretty well wherever he went. He noted he helped with get out the vote efforts for Shelly Moore, did doors in Rhinelander for Sen. Jim Holperin, attended a rally for Jess King, and knocked on doors, did get out the vote calls, and worked on envelopes for Nancy Nusbaum. “The really cool thing about it all was the amount of enthusiasm; each candidate said they had never seen so much enthusiasm,” Larson noted, adding that everyone seemed to be engaged and were willing to do tons of work, including many independents who had voted Republican in the past but who were helping out with Democratic campaigns in each of the districts. “I think that bodes well for Democrats tonight,” Larson said of the support by independents for the Democratic campaigns.
During our conversation, I noted multiple reports of extremely high turnout (in some cases surpassing turnout in the 2008 presidential election), and I noted that some Republicans are citing high turnout in traditionally Republican areas as a good sign for their candidates. Sen. Larson noted that high turnout in traditionally Republican areas isn’t necessarily a good sign for Republicans, as Gov. Walker turned off some republican voters with his hard turn to the right after being inaugurated.
As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Sen. Larson if he had any thoughts on Republican Gov. Scott Walker signing the radical Republican redistricting plan into law earlier today, Sen. Larson noted that in signing the redistricting plan into law, Gov. Walker has shown that despite his words about working in a bipartisan manner with Democrats in Wisconsin ring hollow – there’s nothing to it. Sen. Larson went on to add that the redistricting plan signed into law by Gov. Walker is the most divisive redistricting map in a generation – a map so highly partisan it had to be signed into law on a day when no one is paying attention to anything but the historic recalls of six sitting Republican State Senators.