Another Top Story in 2012: Recall Elections
2012 really did feel like one long election, didn't it? And at the center of it all: the historic recall elections.
The historic recall of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and a handful of Republican state senators this year dominated the headlines for the first half of 2012.
After nearly 1 million signatures were turned in against Walker - primarily because of Act 10, which severely limited how far collective bargaining could go for public employees - the fight got under way among Democrats for who would challenge the governor.
A live forum was hosted at the George Bray Center by a number of Racine-area groups for the Democratic primary candidates; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout and Doug LaFollette, and Independent gubernatorial candidate Hariprasad "Hari" Trivedi.
Opponents of the recalls pointed fingers at the price tag - estimated by the GAB to be anywhere from $9 million to $20 million - while supporters called it the price of democracy in action.
Not much changed from the Nov. 2010 gubernatorial election, though; Barrett faced off against Walker again, and, again, Walker came out on top, retaining the governor's office.
Here in the Racine area, recall efforts struck a lot closer to home. Freshman state Sen. Van Wanggaard was fighting to keep his seat after Randolph Brandt triggered the recall against him because, Brandt said, Wanggaard violated the public's trust by supporting Walker's initiatives.
John Lehman, whom Wanggaard defeated in Nov. 2010, stepped up for the Democrats to run against the Republican. In this race, the challenger emerged the winner both on election night, and, again, after a recount despite irregularities like missing signatures and improperly sealed ballot bags.
Lehman will serve out the remainder of Wanggaard's term, representing a newly drawn 21st District that includes slices of the Cities of Racine and Kenosha but is predominantly the suburbs and west end communities in both Racine and Kenosha counties. He will be up for re-election in Nov. 2014.