(CNN) – The fallout from the Wisconsin saga over collective bargaining rights that ignited in February continues Tuesday with six recall elections.
Six incumbent Republican state senators are targeted in the contests. Republicans hope to retain the majority in the state Senate, which they currently hold 19-14. Democrats are angling for GOP-held seats to capture control of the upper chamber.
A Democratic incumbent state senator held onto his seat in July, and two other Democrats will be on the ballot August 16th.
The elections stem from a law, which was upheld by the state Supreme Court in June that sharply divided the state earlier in the year. Republicans insisted the measure was necessary to control the skyrocketing costs of public employee benefits and close the budget shortfall. Democrats argued it was an attempt to gut public-sector labor unions, one of their core constituencies.
In the recall elections, state Democrats object to Republican legislators' support of the collective bargaining law while Republicans are critical of Democratic lawmakers who left the state during negotiations in opposition to Republican Gov. Scott Walker's agenda, in an effort to block the bill. While the debate waged on, the fleeing lawmakers and protests at the state capitol made national headlines.
The debate has consistently attracted national attention and funds. Independent groups from both sides of the aisle released ads in the Badger State and tea party groups joined forces Friday for a four-day bus tour defending the Republican lawmakers.
The Tea Party Express hosted rallies Monday "as a final push to support conservatives who know that responsible budget reform has brought new jobs and greater prosperity to the state of Wisconsin," according to the group.
Ken Goldstein, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project, said the amount of money flowing into the races is "extraordinary."
"To see this much spent in Senate elections and to see this much spent on broadcast TV is absolutely unprecedented," Goldstein, a CNN contributor, said. "The races have become nationalized and the perceived stakes are high, so there is lots of money to play with."
- CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.