Wisconsin Rep. Baldwin: ‘Encouragement’ in Recall Results, but ‘Work to Do’ Still

ABC News’ Rick Klein ( @rickklein ) reports:

Yesterday’s recall election results in Wisconsin were something of a disappointment to Democrats, who’d hoped to snag control of the state Senate by defeating at least four Republican incumbents but wound up settling for only two victories.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., – a strong supporter of the recall push – said the results are “certainly an accomplishment” for Democrats. But she acknowledged disappointment that Democrats weren’t able to do more to demonstrate voters’ dissatisfaction with Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., and his agenda.

“There's room for encouragement as well as looking at what went right and what went wrong,” Baldwin told us. “Certainly a true victory would have seen the Senate flip from Republican hands to Democratic hands. So I think we certainly recognize we have work to do, but there's still encouragement about the progress made. This was a message and a very strong message in deeply red districts in Wisconsin.”

Six incumbent state senators were on the ballot yesterday. Baldwin pointed out that because only those elected in 2008 – a heavily Democratic year – could be subjected to recall votes this year, those incumbents tended to be in solidly Republican districts.

“We're talking about the deepest red districts in the state,” she said. “I think that a very strong message was sent statewide, and if some of these battles had been fought out in slightly less red districts, we would have seen a different thing. But this wasn't a statewide election. … This was just one more phase in what is a much longer movement.”

Baldwin rejected the notion that Walker and his agenda should be emboldened by the results:

“If all six Republican Senate seats had stayed in Republican hands, that might have been an interpretation,” she said. “If this had been something that was happening throughout the state of Wisconsin, I think you would have seen the midterm elections turned on their head. But it wasn't. The recall law only allows us to go in certain Senate districts. This is part of a much longer movement, and I think you'll see that Wisconsinites who would like a responsive legislature and governor are not going to stop here.”

Baldwin also stopped short of saying that recall elections should be available to voters to hold members of Congress accountable, though she said that’s something worth considering because of the recent series of “very embarrassing” scandals involving members.

“We have to look at whether the tools that are in place right now to hold members of Congress to account are working or not. I know that we've certainly had a fair share -- and it's very embarrassing for me as a member of Congress to see the number of scandals that we've had in the House recently,” she said.

“In each case we have seen a fairly rapid exit of a person who has done misdeeds or is being under scrutiny. But that doesn't necessarily, I understand, get to the question of should there be recalls or not. I'd really like to leave these questions generally to the states. States conduct their own election laws.”

She went on to suggest that recalls may be a useful tool now, in the wake of what she said was a “manufactured crisis” over the debt ceiling.

“I understand the frustration that voters have with the disconnect between their elected representatives and what's really going on in their communities,” Baldwin said.

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