AP Photo/Andy Manis
Damon Terrrell speaks to protesters at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, February 27, 2011.
Forgetting politics and looking at today's recall elections in Wisconsin may be difficult, especially with turnout this high (so far) and this much money involved. But the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that this is indeed historic (in a more traditional way):
Since 1908, there have been 20 recorded state legislative recall elections held in the United States, according to one recall expert. Wisconsin is in the process of holding nine such elections in the space of a month.
One of those elections features a Republican who has literally never had a Democrat oppose him for this office before today:
State Sen. Luther Olsen's district is comfortably Republican - so much so that in 16½ years in office he has never drawn a Democratic opponent. No more. For the first time, the senator from Ripon faces a real opponent in Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo)... Democrats see the Olsen-Clark matchup as the race that could give them control of the Senate.
Democrats need a net gain of three seats to regain that control, and that road may be tough today. Yesterday's polling doesn't portend a clean sweep by either side. Even if the Democrats are put back in charge, it is debatable how soon they'd even be able to address the issue driving all of this: unions and collective bargaining. But as Steve Benen notes, it may have an immediate impact on national politics:
Needless to say, interest in the outcome extends well beyond the state. Because so much of the dispute has centered around collective-bargaining rights — or more specifically, the GOP drive to gut these worker rights — union leaders and activists throughout the labor movement are heavily invested in today’s races, and they’ve been joined by a variety of progressive allies, including the Democrats’ Organizing for America. Likewise, a variety of far-right organizations, including Koch-financed outfits, have already spent millions to prevent Democratic victories.
So that's why Benen believes:
The better Dems do today, the more likely their success will be used as a template.
After the jump, you can find Rachel discussing that and many other things concerning the Wisconsin recall elections last night with MSNBC's own Ed Schultz (who is again doing his show live from Madison, WI tonight). Polls close at 9pm Eastern, right as we go on the air tonight -- so be sure to tune in at the top of the hour.