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Editorial: Voting - a new summer pastime

Not long ago, we urged readers to mark their calendars and remember to vote in the July 12 Democrat Senate primary--two days after the completion of Ellsworth Polka Fest.

Now the second and last phase of the state senate recall process is almost here. The recall election between Republican incumbent Sheila Harsdorf and Democrat challenger Shelly Moore is next Tuesday.

Many people, appalled at recent legislation passed by the governor and state lawmakers, can't wait. Many others, however, are appalled by the very idea of a politically motivated recall election.

Others, perhaps a sizeable number, have mixed views about the ugly tone of Wisconsin politics, the recall election and what direction our state should take. They will have to sort through those views and make a difficult decision.

Whichever candidate wins, Harsdorf or Moore, the road ahead will be rough and possibly brief. Supporters on both sides are bitterly divided, even hostile to the other candidate. This hostility will likely linger into 2012 because the 10th Senate District will have its regularly scheduled election in the fall.

That means the winner of Tuesday's recall will have just 15 months to serve in office before winning reelection or being voted out of office. The campaign for that election will surely get underway months earlier. Again, be prepared next year for another summer of intense partisan politicking.

While it may not be possible in the current political environment, we still encourage next Tuesday's recall election winner to make a serious effort to reach out, mend fences, find legislative middle ground, compromise with the other party, and listen to the needs and concerns of all constituents--both those who are supporters and those who are opponents.

Those qualities have long been epitomized by lawmakers from both parties in Western Wisconsin. It's time for a return to that way of state government representation.

Only this kind of political outreach can begin to heal the divisive bitterness felt by the electorate.