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By Kevin Binversie
The undeniable truth about five of these recalls is they will be decided by Republican turnout.
Five of the six are in Republican districts. The only one that isn't — the 32nd State Senate District, held by La Crosse Republican Dan Kapanke — is likely a Democratic win.
Of the remaining five, the safest are Robert Cowles in the 2nd District with De Pere, Shawano and Kaukauna, and Shelia Harsdorf in the 10th with River Falls, Hudson and St. Croix Falls. They are said to be running great campaigns and should win comfortably if conventional wisdom holds true for tonight.
The Republican districts that should be watched are Alberta Darling in the 8th with Germantown, Mequon, Thiensville, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, and Luther Olsen in the 14th with Red Granite, Ripon, Portage and Baraboo.
In fact, most Wisconsin political watchers will tell you the 8th District is one-third liberal and two-thirds conservative. If Darling's opponent state Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, is victorious tonight, it will be because she had massive turnout in the liberal suburbs of Shorewood, Whitefish Bay and Glendale along Milwaukee's North Shore. Darling will find her votes in Germantown, Menominee Falls, Mequon and Thiensville.
The 14th District is home to Ripon, "the birthplace of the Republican Party,” and the biggest question there will be how capable a campaigner did Olsen become during this recall. Having gone without a Democratic opponent since entering state politics in 1994, he didn't face a Democratic opponent when elected to the state Senate in 2004 or for his re-election in 2008; much of the concern on the right is that this has made Olsen lazy on the campaign trail.
We'll know tonight if that is true or not.
The final state Senate recall to watch is Randy Hopper in the 18th District with Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Waupun. Long thought politically dead after personal details about his messy divorce and young mistress became public, Hopper is making a comeback according to word on the campaign trail and recent polling from of all places the Daily Kos. If he squeaks it out, it could be the biggest political comeback story in Wisconsin history.
It also would indicate that Jessica King, Hopper's Democratic opponent in his recall and in 2008, is a horrible campaign closer. Hopper won their first match-up by just 163 votes.
How will this end tonight? I'm in the camp where I see Democrats taking only two of these districts, the seats held by Dan Kapanke in La Crosse and Randy Hopper in Fond du Lac.
Could Republicans lose only one seat? It's possible.
Could Republicans lose three or four seats, flipping the State Senate? It's possible.
It will come down to Republican levels of turnout.
Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native who has been blogging on the state’s political culture for more than eight years. He has served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous Wisconsin Republican campaigns in various capacities, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.