Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

WI Recall Election Dates Set

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Folks, it’s official: the 2012 Wisconsin recall elections have been set on the calendar for May 8, 2012 and June 5, 2012, the dates the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) wanted.  The Senate elections are likely to all take place on May 8 unless the Wisconsin Republicans again run “fake Democrats” to primary the Democratic candidates in the four Senate races up for grabs, as they did in 2011.  All four Senators being recalled are Republicans; two of the four being recalled are Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and my own state Senator, Racine’s Van Wanggaard.  

The recall petitions that were turned in to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch haven’t yet been certified by the GAB, so it is unclear at this time whether or not Walker and Kleefisch will be among those who will have to run in elections on one or the other of these dates.  There will definitely be a Democratic primary — a real one this time — for the gubernatorial contest, as there are three Democrats who have declared they’re running for Governor: former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Democratic state Senator Kathleen Vinehout, and Secretary of State Douglas LaFollette.  That would mean, tentatively, that it’s likely Walker will have to defend his seat on June 5.  (It’s possible that Kleefisch may have to defend her seat sooner than Walker, which will be really interesting.)

Now, let’s take a moment to consider the difference between 2011 and 2012 with regards to the recalls.

In the 2011 drive to recall the Republican Eight, recall petitions had to be delivered no later than April; elections were set for June, July and August.  Two Republican Senators, Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, were not recalled; signatures were not able to be filed against them.

In the six other recall elections pertaining to the original Republican Eight, most were artificially delayed by the Republican maneuver of entering “fake Democrats” into the primaries against the real Democrats running against them.  This tactic allowed the Rs to raise more money, as under Wisconsin law, any incumbent may raise unlimited money to defend his (or her) seat.  This sizable monetary advantage helped four of the six who were recalled, as they retained their seats.  Only Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) and Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) ended up losing their seats (to Democratic challengers Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King, respectively).

In 2012, the Republican incumbents have had nearly a year to raise money, and since November 15, 2011, have been able to raise unlimited amounts of money to defend their seats.  This has given them a significant advantage over their 2011 brethren.  This huge monetary advantage is one reason why I wish the GAB had prioritized the Senate elections. **

There’s no excuse for the elections to have been set so far after the petitions were hand-carried in on January 15, 2011.  The GAB surely could’ve set the Senate recall elections earlier, as they worked far more speedily last year to schedule nine Senate recall elections (the three Dems who were recalled and had to stand for new elections were retained); this time, they only had four to deal with.  So why the delay?

At any rate, the recalls have been scheduled, at least for the state Senate; we’re now on the clock.  Keep watching this space, as I’ll give you whatever updates I can as soon as I receive them.

————————

** I am well aware that over 900,000 signatures, the revised and corrected total, were turned in to recall Walker, and over 800,000 to recall Lt. Gov. Kleefisch.  The four Senators, between them, amassed around 65,000 signatures to force their recall elections.  That’s why I used the term “prioritized.”  (Hold your fire.) 

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

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