Moments after booing loudly when late night recall election results showed Sen. Alberta Darling would likely prevail over Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch -- thereby crushing all hope of a Democratic takeover of the state Senate -- the Madison coordinator of MoveOn.org vowed to, well, move on.
"This is a wake-up call for the governor and the corporatists that democracy will not be stilled," said liberal activist Jeff Kravat of the two seats picked up by Democrats. And Kravat, who watched the election returns with other Democratic hopefuls Tuesday night at the Majestic Theatre, said the recall results suggest widespread discontent with Gov. Scott Walker even though Republicans managed to hold on to four other Senate seats: "It's not a win when he sees how the people have turned against him in such a short time."
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin vowed Wednesday to stick to plans to take on Walker. In a memo to reporters, Mike Tate, chair of the party, says that the Democratic victories in Republican-leaning areas show how vulnerable Republicans are in the November 2012 elections and "how vulnerable Gov. Walker is to a recall election himself."
"If we can do all of this against entrenched Republicans on their own turf, imagine our success -- for education, for jobs, for the middle class, for seniors, for working families, for health care, for students -- when all of Wisconsin can have its voice heard on Gov. Walker's extreme, divisive agenda," wrote Tate.
Of course recall efforts take a lot of energy, not to mention money. Do local activists have it in them to go another round, after disappointing losses Tuesday and in April's Supreme Court match up between Joanne Kloppenburg and Justice David Prosser? We posed the question on Facebook this morning and the answer was a pretty resounding "yes."
"Ready to recall Walker!!!!" posted Jennifer Nelson. "I am still fired up," wrote Julie Young. And Theresa Major said she was more determined than ever: "While last night's results weren't entirely what we wanted, we made huge strides in Republican strongholds. I'm ready to brave the cold again come January."
Some posted that they were momentarily "deflated" or "depressed," but most of the nearly 40 commenters were more upbeat. And some, like Esther Schwarzbauer, spoke about a higher purpose. "This won't end. Not even when Walker is long gone. This has been a new awakening."
State employee and union activist Barbara Smith is thinking along those same lines. She says she would likely join efforts to recall Walker, but believes the fight for worker justice must also continue outside the electoral process. The working class needs to organize itself in all venues, she says, not just at the ballot box.
"We don't want to just get back what we lost," says Smith, who gathered Wednesday with other union members at a cookout and membership drive outside the GEF state office buildings at the corner of King and N. Webster streets. "I'm talking about a higher level of justice for all working people."
Meanwhile, Republicans quoted by Politico Wednesday say they expect Democrats to proceed with a recall of Walker. And one GOP lawmaker wants to make it harder to mount a recall of a state official altogether. Rep. Robin Vos says in a news release (PDF) that he is drafting a constitutional amendment that would require recall petitions at the state level to contain a statement indicating why a lawmaker is being recalled. Under Wisconsin law, no reason must now be given for state officials.
Vos plans to introduce the constitutional amendment -- which would need to be passed in two successive legislative sessions before being sent to the governor for signing -- this fall. His intent, he says, is for "it to be the first bi-partisan piece of legislation passed this fall."