LA CROSSE, Wis. - On a night when very little when right for the Republicans, the party was still able to win back the Wisconsin State Senate on Tuesday.
That means the GOP will once again have full control in Madison.
Democrats have controlled the State Senate since this summer, when several recall elections gave the party a 17 to 16 majority. Pending verification of Tuesday's election results, Republicans will have a 18 to 15 majority come January.
"In a sense, the State Senate is back to ground zero and the starting point before the recalls," said Joe Heim, a political science professor at UW-La Crosse.
"To be blunt, it makes you wonder whether all these recalls were worth it," he added.
Republicans already have their eyes on one key piece of legislation that failed to come up for a vote earlier this year when the party only had a slim 1-seat majority in the State Senate.17323122
"We really need to work on a mining bill that's going to create a lot of jobs and those are jobs that we need in Wisconsin," said Julian Bradley, chair of the La Crosse County Republican Party.
The mining bill failed to come up for a vote because State Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) refused to support it at the time.
"I'm for mining and I want it done it right and I think our society needs mining. What concerns me is that we (need to ) have an open and transparent process about how we change the regulations," Schultz said in February.
Schultz is still in office but with a 3-seat majority, Republicans won't need his vote to pass the controversial legislation. It would pave the way for a large open pit mine to be built in northern Wisconsin. Officials have said the mine would create as many as 700 new jobs.
Democrats and conservation groups opposed the mining bill because they felt it rolled back too many environmental regulations.
Bradley hopes the legislation can be re-worked to make all sides happy.
"I think it's important that we work with our Democratic colleagues to come up with a bill that's going to get bipartisan support through the houses and be signed by the governor," he said.
State Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), who won the 32nd senate race, says it's not just the mining bill where there needs to be more cooperation.
"Voters want us to get along. They want us to be problem solvers and (hopefully) we can find that common ground and that compromise that people are hungry for," said Shilling
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