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Wisconsin GOP lawmaker asks for recount in recall race

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FILE: June 2, 2012: Wisconsin GOP state Sen. Van Wangaard at a rally held by the Racine Tea Party PAC in Caledonia, Wis. S (AP)

Wisconsin state GOP. Sen. Van Wanggaard asked elections officials Friday for a recount in his recall race, the outcome of which will decide the majority party in the state Senate.

An official canvass this week showed the Racine Republican trailing his Democratic challenger by 834 votes, or 1.2 percent.

Democrats had called on Wanggaard to concede, saying a recount would only delay their inevitable and waste taxpayer money. But Wanggaard's campaign said it was concerned about possible reports of voting irregularities, and said it wanted to ensure the outcome was accurate.

Given how many votes were cast in the election and the margin separating the candidates, the recount will cost Wanggaard $5 for each of the 137 wards, or $685. Taxpayers will be on the hook for any remainder of the recount bill.

The state Senate currently has 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans. The winner of Wanggaard's race will give his party majority control.

If the recount reverses the outcome, the loss by Democrat John Lehman would be bitter end to the party's already disappointing recall effort. Democrats came up empty in the other five recall races, including a failed attempt to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

While a Lehman win would help Democrats save face, the outcome of the race could be largely symbolic. The Legislature isn't expected to convene again until January, and the November elections could cause the balance of political power to shift once again.

Lehman, a former high school history teacher, held the 21st District Senate seat until Wanggaard defeated him in 2010.

The recalls were prompted by anger over a law pushed by Walker and passed by the Republican-led Legislature that stripped most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights.