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Wisconsin recall votes grab national spotlight

HUDSON, Wis. — In Wisconsin, a long-brewing political storm will touch down today. In several state Senate districts, voters will cast ballots in extraordinarily heated political races that have huge implications for the state's political future.

The bitter winter protests over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's new collective bargaining limitations on state workers, which gripped the nation, have given way to unprecedented recall elections for nine state senators. The results will determine whether Republicans retain control of the Wisconsin Senate. They also may offer a glimpse into broader voter sentiment heading into the coast-to-coast elections in 2012.

The recall races are attracting outsized national attention for state legislative elections.

"There's more activity in this state Senate race than we saw in presidential races in my neighborhood," said Mike Zipko, a media and political consultant from Ellsworth, Wis.

Six of Wisconsin's Republican senators face recall elections today. On Aug. 16, voters will decide on two Democratic senators. One Democrat already won his recall election in July.

If Democrats win enough races, they're expected to set their sights on a recall of Walker next year.

Mike McCabe, who heads the watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, estimates that total interest-group spending across the state on a cluster of legislative seats has reached $26 million, an amount more typical of a U.S. Senate race.

Officials: Perry to run

AUSTIN, Texas — Leaning toward a full-fledged presidential run, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will visit at least two early primary states — South Carolina and New Hampshire — on Saturday, when most of his would-be opponents are competing in an Iowa test vote.

The Associated Press reported that Republican officials close to Perry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose his plans, said it's all but certain the governor will run.

A formal announcement is tentatively planned for the middle of next week in Houston, the AP reported.

Wisconsin recall votes grab national spotlight 08/08/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 8, 2011 10:51pm]
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