GOP reclaims control of Legislature

GREEN BAY — Wisconsin Republicans regain control of the state Legislature once again and have plans to move forward after Tuesday's general election.

While Republicans failed to deliver the statewide vote for president and U.S. Senator, their strength turned out in local races for seats in the Wisconsin Legislature.

"If you're doing the job they sent you to do then they're going to continue to send you back," said Congressman Reid Ribble about the local candidates. "They are going to view you as part of the solution or part of the problem."

The Republican congressman, who won re-election, says voters are able to single out candidates that make the system work.

"I think what we're seeing locally is that people are viewing those Republican candidates at least as part of the solution here in Northeast Wisconsin," said Ribble.

When Governor Scott Walker took over the state in 2010, he had the backing of a Republican controlled state Assembly and state Senate.  

Controversial legislation was able to balance the state budget and eliminate the deficit, but also led to costly recall elections which handed control of the state Senate to the Democrats back in June. That put a stop to Republicans in being able to steam roll through legislation.

"We're very pleased to take the majority back in the state Senate. It allows us to work with the Republican Assembly which was also retained," said State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, Republican Minority Leader.

While Democrats lost control, Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen hopes bipartisanship prevails.

"I'm excited to go back. I'm just hoping we can work together to move our state forward. We shouldn't be divided any longer it's time to get together," said Hansen, who won re-election in the Green Bay area.

Democrats prior to the election held a slim 17 to 16 majority in the state Senate. In Tuesday's election, Republicans took an open seat from Democrats and recaptured the Fox Valley seat it lost in the recalls giving Republicans control with an 18 to 15 cushion.

"We worked so hard to try and flip the Senate to at least have a firewall there and now those gains have basically  been reversed in this election. I think it happened while nobody was looking," said Bob Kiefert, vice chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County.

"The Republicans getting a couple seat advantage in the State Senate should lead to an opportunity here in the next six months for them to do some very meaningful things and job growth and economic development will be at the top of that agenda," said John Gard, former Republican Assembly Leader.

For example, job creating legislation to attract mining to Northern Wisconsin failed to pass the Senate last session by one vote. With a three vote majority Republicans expect it to now sail through.

"They are good paying jobs. There's no reason it should not pass," said Gard.

Despite the hard partisan feelings that sparked protests and ultimately the recall fights, in the end Governor Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans appear to have won the political battle.

"They've got a balanced budget and citizens here said we like the idea of a balanced budget here in Wisconsin and they sent the people back in control who did those things," said Ribble.

Barring any more recalls, Republicans will retain full control for the next two years. 

When the new session of the state Legislature meets next year, the Senate Democrats will have a new leader.

Mark Miller of Monona announced he plans to step down from the leadership position.
He does plan to stay in the position through the end of the year.
Miller ran opposed in Tuesday's election.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Wisconsin (change)

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
Offices & Officials

Governor: Scott Walker
Lieutenant Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch
Attorney General: J.B. Van Hollen

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