What a year 2012 has been for Wisconsin politics.
Since the beginning of the year, the Badger state has been thrust into the national spotlight.
There's perhaps no better illustration of Wisconsin's political prominence in 2012 than the scene at the Republican National Convention. The Wisconsin delegation enjoyed a seat front and center.
A big reason for that was Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who helped carry the GOP torch as vice presidential nominee.
But this is just one of many reasons why all political eyes have been on Wisconsin.
2012 began with a strong effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Democrats were furious with the governor and the GOP for stripping most collective bargaining rights from most public workers.
Recall supporters gathered close to a million signatures—twice the number needed to force Walker into an election.
Democrats picked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as their candidate, setting up a rematch of 2010 when Barrett lost to the governor.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and six Republican state senators were also forced to defend their seats. One of them was Pam Galloway of Wausau. But before the recall primary, Galloway abruptly resigned, citing family reasons. Longtime Republican State Rep. Jerry Petrowski took her spot on the ballot and eventually won the seat.
The Wisconsin recall campaign attracted national attention. Political ads dominated the airwaves. But interestingly, the debate moved away from collective bargaining to jobs. Both candidates traded heated jabs on the direction of Wisconsin's economy.
On June 5, Gov. Walker won handily. Democrats did receive one consolation prize—control of the State Senate. But that wouldn't mean much since most business had already wrapped up.
Having survived the recall, Gov. Walker quickly became a Republican superstar. He was even rumored to be a candidate for VP alongside Mitt Romney. But that job went to another familiar face from Wisconsin.
Seven-term Congressman Paul Ryan was chosen as Romney's running mate on the Republican ticket.
Wisconsin got a lot of attention during the presidential race, but not just because of Ryan. Polls showed a tight race in the Badger state, and that brought a lot of big-name visitors including President Barack Obama.
But even with Paul Ryan on the ticket, Republicans lost Wisconsin and the country. Still, Ryan kept his seat in Congress, allowing him to remain on the national stage and positioning him as one of the highest-profile Republicans in the country.
But Wisconsin didn't go all democratic. Republicans took back the State Senate and with it, complete control of state government. However, they say they plan to work with Democrats to get things done.
For now, though, it looks like Wisconsin can take a breath and a break from the intense political spotlight. Unless, of course, something else happens that once again puts our state front and center.
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