Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard decided not to go to court to challenge his recall election loss, effectively conceding the race Tuesday to his challenger and giving Democrats at least a temporary majority in the Wisconsin Senate. Wanggaard, of Racine, lost to Democrat John Lehman by 819 votes, or about 1.1 percent of the nearly 72,000 ballots cast. Wanggaard had demanded a recount, which affirmed his loss. That left Wanggaard with two choices: File a challenge by Tuesday or concede the race. His campaign chose not to challenge, clearing the way for state election officials to certify the race Wednesday morning and make the outcome official.
“Despite pleas from around the state to challenge the election, it is not in the best interests of Racine, or Wisconsin, at this time,” Wanggaard said in a statement. “Now is the time to focus on gaining the state senate back in November, winning Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat and electing Gov. (Mitt) Romney as president.” Wanggaard also reaffirmed that he will challenge Lehman for the seat again when the term ends in 2014.
Lehman said he was “grateful” Wanggaard decided not to go to court. “I’m just happy that we’re not putting the citizens through that,” he said. The win hands Democrats their lone victory out of last month’s six recall elections, and gives them a 17-16 edge in the state Senate.