Wisconsin Roundup XI: Two down, two to go

Voters will go to the polls today in Wisconsin’s 22nd and 12th Senate District to show their approval of Bob Wirch standing up for their rights, and to show their disapproval for a pair of candidates that could supply a late night comedian with jokes for a year. Meanwhile, two pro-worker legislators prepare to take office after last week’s victories, and all eyes are on a guy named Schultz (not Ed).

This is your Wisconsin Roundup:

• Vote for Bob! It’s election day again in Wisconsin, as voters in the Northwoods 12th District and the Kenosha-area 22nd District cast their ballots in the final round of recalls. Democrat Bob Wirch is defending their seats against Republican challengers Jonathan Steitz. His colleague Jim Holperin is running against Tea Party activist Kim Simac. Steitz is a corporate lawyer from Chicago who may have a noncompliant sexual offender living on his property, while Simac compared public schools to Nazi Germany and, when asked, cannot think of a piece of legislation in Madison that she would support – or oppose. In fact, Simac has made so many verbal gaffes and outrageous statements, there’s a blog singularly devoted to her quotations.

But even with the outrageous track records of Steitz and Simac, these races are still close. We’ll be watching the results and covering them live on Twitter.

• Jen and Jess are on the case. Working families in Wisconsin got two steps closer to taking back the State Senate last week, as Jennifer Schilling and Jessica King succeeded in their recalls against Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper respectively. Schilling is an Assembly member who has been involved in her community since she was a student at UW-LaCrosse. King overcame a hardscrabble upbringing to become a professor, city council member, and finally Deputy Mayor of Oshkosh. Congrats to Jen and Jess on their victories – we’re looking forward to seeing them get to work for Wisconsin’s working people.

• Dale – Rescue Ranger for Wisconsin? Now that the margin in the State Senate 17 Republicans and 16 Democrats, anyone can be the “deciding vote” one way or another. That’s why a lot more attention is being paid to Dale Schultz, a moderate Republican from the 17th District. Schultz was the sole GOP senator to vote against Governor Walker’s union-busting bill, and has been fairly critical of Walker since February.

Assuming Holperin and Wirch win tonight, Sen. Schultz will be the “swing vote” in Madison. One blogger said of the election results “Congratulations, Wisconsin Governor Dale Schultz,” while another called him the “new de facto Majority leader.” In any event, it’s a big deal that Schultz voted against his own party’s attacks on workers, because if his displeasure with Walker’s anti-working families agenda continues, it might be enough for him to form a new coalition with Democrats, or switch parties.

Just another example of how Walker and his allies’ extremism is forcing out moderates and independents that might otherwise support them.

But for now – go vote, Wisconsin! And follow us on Twitter tonight for election updates.