(MILWAUKEE) -- Months have passed since protests snarled the Wisconsin state capital and a collective bargaining argument shut down the state government. But the anger has not died away, and legislators from both parties face recall elections.
Though it sounds like a local Wisconsin issue, both sides say this is a major bellwether for 2012. The real ringer is that a staggering amount of money -- nearly $30 million -- is being spent by outside interest groups to influence the recall elections.
This month, voters will go to the polls to either keep or replace their state senators. On Tuesday, six incumbent Republicans are facing recall and the possibility that the chamber flips control from the Republicans to Democrats. The following week, two Democrats are also facing recall.
It all began with a sweeping change in state government. Republican Gov. Scott Walker assumed office in January and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits, ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.
Democrats in the state legislature fled the state to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protestors on both sides of the issue gathered at the state capitol to protest or support Walker's move.
After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall the senators involved who were eligible had been in office more than a year.
Republicans responded by accusing Democrats of shirking their elected duties by literally running away from the vote.
Thanks to the well-funded recall efforts, enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.
If the Senate does change hands, Democrats could overturn Walker's legislation.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio