You've heard it here before and will no doubt hear it again: What's going on, Democrats?
On Tuesday, we celebrated the swearing-in of two new State Senators, Jennifer Schilling and Jessica King, slicing the Republican majority in the upper house to a single vote, at 17-16.
Those two women won recall elections last month, but Democrats failed to pick up the third seat they needed to be able to block the further passage of the Scott Walker/right-wing Republlican agenda.
A month ago, taking over the State Senate was life and death. So, have we given up, when one more seat would swing the balance? That's the way the media portrays it, reporting only about the possibility of recalling Walker himself next year and speculating about whether that will or could happen.
The latest Journal Sentinel story all but wrote off the legislature:
Half the senators and all the members of the Assembly were not eligible to be recalled this year because they are protected from recalls during the first year of their terms. However, they could be recalled in 2012, and both Fitzgeralds said they were worried more recall efforts could disrupt the work of the Legislature.
"If we start getting recalls again, it can slow the whole process," Jeff Fitzgerald said.
Barca and other Democrats said it would be up to average citizens, rather than party leaders, to decide whether to recall anyone.
"The party's not contemplating it, (but) that doesn't mean it's not going to happen," said Graeme Zielinski, a state Democratic Party spokesman. "There are still people out there who are pretty energized."
That energized bunch apparently would not include the party's leaders. What a shame. Taking one of those seats seems much more attainable, frankly, than recalling Walker, when the Dems don't seem to have a strong opponent to run againat him.
As for Fitzgerald's lament that more recalls might slow down the legislative process, that is exactly what we want to do.We don't just want to slow down the Republican onslaught that will seek to restrict abortion access, ease environmental regulations to allow quick approval of mining, clear the way for more nuclear reactors, and who knows what else -- we want to stop it.
The obvious way to do that, without waiting for another year while Walker and Co. continue to turn Wisconsin into Fitzwalkerstan, is to get control of at least one house of the legislature. The Assembly is out of reach. The Senate is not.
Beginning in November, petitions could be circulated to launch recalls against one or more of the four new Republican senators elected in last year's GOP tsunami.
All four of the swing districts that were up last November went Republican, but all have elected Democrats in the past.
The new senators, and the percentage of the vote they received:
Pam Galloway, Wausau, 52.26%
Terry Moulton, Chippewa Falls, 54.2%
Leah Vukmir, Wauwatosa, 52.15%
Van Wangaard, Racine, 52.52%
Vukmir's seat probably should be off the table. It was kind of a fluke that Jim Sullivan was able to win it before, because a crackpot right-winger Tom Reynolds, preceded him.
But why not put two or even all three of the other three into play? The best bet, in all likelihood, would be to recall Pam Galloway, who won a surprise upset victory over Russ Decker last year. That was a district that no one expected to lose, even when the other three were known to be in danger.
Galloway, Moulton and Wangaard all have voted for the Walker agenda, right down the line including his union-busting and draconian cuts that have crippled education and local governments, while giving tax breaks to fat cats and corporations.
Galloway has gone them one better though, as the sponsor of the concealed carry law that passed the legislature even though the majority of voters oppose it. She was disappointed that something stronger (or weaker. depending upon your point of view) didn't pass, to let people carry guns even without any permits or training.
Unless Dems successfully recall one of those senators, or manage to recall Walker, they can look forward to at least three more years of watching the Republicans railroad one bill after another.