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Wednesday Early AM Recall Musings

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Folks, I’m still working hard on an edit that’s nearly completed, so I don’t have a lot of time available to blog.  That said, I watched the election returns this evening and noted the following:

The total amount of votes in the Democratic primary recall race for Governor cast for the four real Democrats was 665,436; the total amount of votes cast for the one real Republican in the race, sitting Governor Scott Walker, was 626,538. 

One thing is clear; anyone who cast a vote tonight in the Democratic primary is likely to vote for anyone other than Scott Walker.  Tonight’s winner, current Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, knows he has a good-sized coalition in place that’s ready and eager to vote against Walker on June 5, 2012.

Other than that, Mahlon Mitchell easily won his race in the Democratic primary recall race for Lieutenant Governor, so he will be taking on current Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on June 5.  And former state Senator John Lehman, D-Racine, easily beat “fake Democrat” Tamra Varebrook, advancing to the June 5 election against current state Senator Van Wanggaard.  (All four Democratic challengers easily won their May 8, 2012, races for state Senate.)

These elections show that many people want to change course in Wisconsin.  We don’t like extremes here on either the D or R side; instead, we like moderates.  Yet we’ve seen little moderation from the current crop of R politicians that was voted in during the 2010 election season, which is why so many people went out and signed recall petitions.  (Simply put: they didn’t listen to us, so it’s time to boot them out and get someone in there who will.) 

No matter how the Rs try to spin it, remember this well: the way Scott Walker and his R cronies behaved in 2011 is why so many voters went out and voted in the various primaries.  And that bad behavior is what’s going to get at least a few of these Rs recalled on June 5.

WI Recalls and Redistricting, 2012 Edition

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Tonight, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) has appealed the largely-favorable ruling the three-judge federal panel gave regarding the 2012 redistricting process to the United States Supreme Court (otherwise known as SCOTUS).  Van Hollen did this despite saying last month that the federal judges had “vindicated” the 2010 maps, which were drawn by the WI GOP in a highly partisan and divisive process.

But tonight, Van Hollen is singing a different tune.  His pro-appeal reasoning, as given by tonight’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, is this:

“While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review.”

Um, excuse me?

Don’t you realize that by appealing this order, this allows the whole ruling to be appealed?  Meaning the Democrats could, theoretically, still prevail?

Well, even if Van Hollen doesn’t get it, the Democrats in Wisconsin sure do.  Doug Poland, an attorney for the Democrats who filed suit, said last month that if the state was silly enough to appeal the ruling, he would do whatever he could to get the entire ruling overturned in order to obtain a better outcome.  (He said it in a much gentler fashion, and he didn’t say the appeal by Van Hollen was “silly.”  I did, and am, because it is.)

Mind you, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) understands that this is a frivolous waste of time; he says in tonight’s Journal-Sentinel article (the first one referenced above) that:

“Does their appetite for wasting taxpayer money on protecting their own political interests ever end?” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said in a statement. “It must be the first time in history anyone has appealed their ‘vindication’ to the Supreme Court.”

Then, the Journal-Sentinel pointed out how much this redistricting court case has already cost the state of Wisconsin:

Republican lawmakers have committed $400,000 in taxpayer money to Michael Best & Friedrich and the Troupis Law Office for their work on redistricting. Separately, Gov. Scott Walker hired Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren to assist the Department of Justice with the litigation. That firm’s contract with the state caps its fees at $925,000; as of February, it had billed the state $288,000.

In addition, the plaintiffs are seeking about $690,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs from the state because they prevailed on their argument on Assembly Districts 8 and 9. The panel has not yet said whether it would award those fees.

So, did you get all that?  The WI GOP won, but they’re not happy; they want it all, or they’ll take their ball and go home.  (Me, I just wish they’d leave the ball and stay home.)  That’s why they’re appealing this ruling, which largely went their way, to SCOTUS.

My take?  I find this shameful, as it’s a shocking waste of money (in a state soon-to-be-former Governor Scott Walker says is “broke”).  I also echo the often-made comments of political commentator John Nichols, when he’s said on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” (and elsewhere) that the WI GOP are comprised of “very bad winners.”  (My best paraphrase, that.)  And I firmly agree with Rep. Barca; what on earth is wrong with these people?  They win and still don’t like it?

Otherwise, there’s a hint of good news amidst a lot of bad regarding the four state Senate recalls.  Here’s the link to that Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, written by long-time political analyst Craig Gilbert:

Gilbert states that only former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) is within striking distance of his opponent, current Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).  (Lehman appears to be within the margin of error, as the recent poll Gilbert used said that Wanggaard leads, 48-46.)  The other three Senate districts, including the district vacated by Pam Galloway, have Republicans leading the Democratic challengers by wide margins.  (See this link to the Daily Kos article that references this data for further information.)

Due to former Senator Galloway’s abrupt resignation (possibly to get a stronger candidate in there as she would’ve lost her recall race), the WI Senate is currently divided equally, 16-16.  That means if Lehman can beat Wanggaard, the Ds will control the state Senate, 17-16; further elections in 2012 should help the Dems cement their lead.

And as I’ve said here before, we have recalled a Republican before in district 21, so it’s certainly not uncharted territory for us to recall another one.

Walker, Kleefisch, Wanggaard Recall Dates Set; WI Rs to Put More “Fake Dems” into D Primaries

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As of tonight, the recall of Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has been set; the primary will be held on May 8, 2012, and the general election will be held on June 5, 2012.  These are not-so-coincidentally the same dates on which the four Republican state Senators (including Racine’s own Van Wanggaard, my current Senator) will have to defend their seats; this should alleviate some of the financial problems court clerks around the state had been concerned about as all the recalls are going to be run at the same time.  While I’m not fond of this — as I’ve said before, I think the state Senator recalls should already be over and done with as the 2011 Senatorial recall elections were taken care of in a far more expeditious manner — it does make logistical and financial sense.

But the GOP has decided to field obviously fake Democratic candidates — “fake Dems” — in the Senate recall races in order to give the Rs more time to raise money (due to a quirk in Wisconsin law, an incumbent facing recall may raise unlimited amounts of money so long as the recall election is forthcoming).  I had predicted they’d do this very thing, but I don’t like their reasoning for it.

From tonight’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article:

Within hours, the state Republican Party said it would run fake Democrats in all the races, ensuring there will be primaries.

“The protest candidates will run as Democrats to guarantee that there is one clear date for the primary election and one clear date for the general election,” said Stephan Thomas, the party’s executive director.

He said the move was made because otherwise some or all of the general elections for state senators would happen the same day as the primary for governor – when Democrats flood to the polls to pick their candidate for governor.

Note that Thomas says quite forthrightly that of course the WI Rs are going to send more “fake Dems” into the fray, just as they did in 2011.  He’s using the rationale that this way, all of the “real” recall races will be held at the same time, as all of the real Democrats running to replace the four incumbent R Senators will now have to face a primary. 

But is this really a good rationale for such a practice?  Considering the WI Rs have a very bad reputation for not listening (except for “mavericks” like Dale Schultz of Richland Center), an even worse one for refusing to explain anything, and the worst one imaginable for failing to understand that their high-handed actions would set off massive unrest in Wisconsin, perhaps doing this again — sending in the “fake Dems,” all so their four R Senate candidates can rake in some more money before facing their day of reckoning on June 8, 2012 — wasn’t the world’s best move.

Because while you’re allowed to do such a thing under Wisconsin law, it’s not exactly ethical.  Voters in the 2011 recall elections were quite perturbed about the Rs doing this, and I’d imagine they will be this time, too; because I remember just how angry people were over this “fake Dem” tactic, it’s not a place I’d want to go if I were a strategist for the WI Rs.  (You can go to the well once too often, y’know.  So why tempt fate?)

Anyway, the other tidbit in this article is that Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is the first ever Lieutenant Governor to be recalled in the entire United States.  (I bet she feels special now!)  Which just goes to show how angry much of the state is; most of the state barely knows who she is, yet she was recalled right along with Walker and the four Senators.

This is why, were I a member of the Wisconsin GOP, I’d want to tread lightly with regards to the whole issue around the “fake Dems.”  Because at some point, enough’s going to be enough.  Once that point is reached, it’ll be hard even for the practical politicians like Dale Schultz (who actually listen to their constituents) to hold onto their seats.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Local and State Politics: Turner to retire, Mason to run; also, a Dem. primary in Wanggaard Recall Race

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The Racine Journal-Times is reporting tonight that my long-time Assemblyman, Robert Turner (D-Racine), is going to retire.  Turner represented District 61 for twenty-two years; his initial plan was to run in the newly-moved District 66, but that has now changed.  Here’s a link to the story:

Turner has been an outstanding Assemblyman, and I’ve deeply appreciated his service to the 61st District and to Racine (as he also served on the Racine City Council from 1976 to 2004).  I’d been looking forward to casting my vote for Turner in District 66; as of a week to ten days ago, Turner’s plans were to run in this new district, but this has obviously changed.

The only good news about all this is that Cory Mason, currently the Assemblyman for the 62nd district, is going to move.  This will allow him to run for the District 66 seat; because Mason has been an extremely responsible, and responsive, legislator, I know I’ll still have a quality person to vote for.

There’s good reason for Mason to move into District 66, you see — his current district was re-drawn to make it much more difficult for Mason to win.  Only 10% of his previous constituents would’ve stayed with him; the rest would be all new.  (This, most likely, is why Mason had been considering a run for Lieutenant Governor.)

Take a look at this map (also available at the Journal-Times link above):


As you can see by the map, only one district — the newly-moved 66 — has much of an urban presence.  The other three districts that have any portion of Racine County all have a significant rural presence, meaning they’re more likely to be able to be won by Republicans (or right-leaning Independents) than by Democrats.

This re-drawing of maps — most properly called “redistricting” — is what I’d been talking about for the past few months with regards to that three-judge Federal panel.  They, and they alone, had the authority to force the state Legislature to re-draw the maps in a more fair and equitable manner; they did not choose to do so, though they did admit that what the Rs did amounted to unethical, immoral, and improper behavior.  But nothing rising to the level of illegality could be proven, which is why only Assembly Districts 8 and 9 (in Milwaukee) will have to be re-drawn even though much of the rest of the map is a mess, too.

Moving on, former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) will have a challenger in the upcoming Senate recall race for District 21, which means a Democratic Primary will have to be run in May.  (See this link, also from the Journal-Times, for further details.)  This challenger is Andrew Mielke; he’s 28, not a registered Democrat, and didn’t sign the petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, or Van Wanggaard.  But Mielke insists he isn’t a “fake Dem” in the same sense as the six obviously fake Democrats who ran against the Democratic opponents in 2011’s recall races in order to give the state Republicans six more weeks to raise money and try to either retain their seats (four of the six incumbent Rs held their seats) or knock off some Democrats (all three D incumbents held their seats); he says his social views are progressive, and that the reason he’s running is because the people of Racine deserve a Democratic choice in the recall election.

The Democratic Party of Racine has endorsed former Senator Lehman, and said they’re not going to change their minds; they also said (paraphrasing from the Journal-Times article from March 22, 2012) that they’d really like this guy Mielke to get in there and register as a Democrat if he really is one.  (Seems fair enough to me.)

I’ve never heard of this guy Mielke, and I’m reasonably active in local and state politics; I go to some area meetings (would go to more if circumstances allowed), I’ve met many people who wanted to recall Walker, Kleefisch, and Wanggaard, and I’ve also met people who didn’t think Wanggaard, etc., should be recalled but weren’t happy with him, either.  This latter category seems to be the one Mielke is in, which is why it’s so odd that he’s running for office; as he’s completely unknown to Racine-area voters, it’s unlikely he’s going to do very well, especially as Lehman was a very good Senator (and before that was a very good Assemblyman).

Whether Mielke is a “fake Dem” or not, it really doesn’t matter; all Mielke is doing by entering the race now is to give Wanggaard six extra weeks to raise money in order to try to retain his seat.   This is a crucial election for Wanggaard, because if he does retain his seat, this is the one and only shot voters have to get him out; he’ll be ensconced until 2014 if he’s retained.

Complicating matters further is the whole redistricting issue I’ve discussed above, as it also applies to the state Senate districts.  Wanggaard will have a much safer seat to defend in 2014, providing he doesn’t get recalled in 2012.  (Lehman, should he run and win, would most likely have to move in order to stay within the boundaries of the new District 21 as most of the city of Racine will be enclosed in the new District 22 along with most of the city of Kenosha; District 22 is presently held by Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, who plans to run again for re-election.)  So this is also the one shot Racine voters get to tell Wanggaard what we think of the terrible redistricting “process” — one that caused nearly all R legislators, including Wanggaard, to sign “non-disclosure” (read: secrecy) agreements so the public wouldn’t know what they were doing until it was too late and couldn’t be changed.

Wanggaard doesn’t seem to like to do the public’s business in the light of day, which is why you should vote to oust Wanggaard in June when we’re finally able to recall him. Regardless of party affiliation, we deserve transparency, openness, and honesty in our government at every level.  Wanggaard didn’t provide that, which is why he must go.

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.) 

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

WI GAB Agrees 4 Senate Recalls Should Go Forward

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Folks, there was one story tonight that demanded my attention: the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has agreed that there were more than enough valid signatures submitted to recall Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and State Senators Terry Moulton, Pam Galloway, and Racine’s own Van Wanggaard.  All four are Republican legislators, and all four will face recall elections in the coming months (the current GAB estimate is May).

Here’s a link to the story:

But these figures are what should concern you, to wit: how many recall signatures were actually struck by the GAB after the Republicans challenged them?

The Committee to Recall Scott Fitzgerald submitted “about” 20,735 petitions to recall him; 16742 were required.  The GAB recommended that 867 signatures be struck, which leaves more than enough signatures to recall him.  (Note that the 867 signatures to be struck is less than 5% of the total signatures, which is considered to be a good percentage; this means the recall petitioners, all volunteers, did their best to make sure recall petitions were only signed by people who were eligible to sign.)

The Committee to Recall Van Wanggaard submitted 23,712 signatures; 15,353 were required.  The GAB said 643 should be struck, including 11 signatures that apparently were gathered fraudulently by a well-known Racine Republican, Mark Demet (he’s not named in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, but the Racine Journal-Times has talked about the problems with Demet here); those latter signatures have been challenged by the Racine County Sheriff’s Department and charges have been filed against Demet.   Obviously, there are more than enough signatures to recall Van Wanggaard and the recall will go forward.  (And look at the percentage, again, of the signatures that were struck; here we’re talking about something like 3% of the total were invalid.  Obviously the Rs were hoping for more invalid signatures than this.)

The Committee to Recall Pam Galloway submitted 21,022 signatures to recall her; 15647 were needed.  The GAB said 1,658 should be struck.  More than enough signatures remain to force a valid recall election (and once again, this is under 10% of the total, which is an excellent percentage).

The Committee to Recall Terry Moulton submitted 20,907 signatures; 14,958 were needed.  The GAB said that 1,212 signatures should be struck, which leaves more than enough valid signatures to force a recall election (again, under 10% of the signatures were declared invalid).

So the first hurdle has been crossed; let the Senatorial recalls begin!

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Sen. Wanggaard Recall News: Wanggaard will not debate former Sen. Lehman

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Last week, former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) said he would take on current Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) in an upcoming recall election.**   Lehman, who lost to Wanggaard in 2010, says he wants a series of public debates; however, Wanggaard says he has “no interest” in debating Lehman whatsoever and will “stand on his record.”

Please see this link for further details:

About the best Wanggaard says he’s able to do is this; if Lehman is willing to attend one of Wanggaard’s weekly town halls out in the Town of Yorkville (a very small, rural part of Racine County):

“If (Lehman) wants to attend one of my town halls, he can sure ask questions,” said Wanggaard.
This doesn’t seem extremely forthcoming, to my mind; worse yet, it seems a tad bit cowardly on the part of Wanggaard.  But to Lehman, apparently this is par for the course:
In Lehman’s announcement Tuesday that he will run against Wanggaard in a likely recall, he said when he ran against Wanggaard in 2010, and was defeated by him, “Mr. Wanggaard never once would agree to an on the ground debate in Racine.” 

There was a television debate and The Journal Times hosted an online forum, but no public debates where people could ask questions in person. 

“They just avoided a discussion,” Lehman said in his announcement. 

Lehman said he would like to see a series of debates. “I think people deserve that,” Lehman said. 

When Lehman ran against former County Executive William McReynolds in 2006 for the Senate, he said there were about 10 debates.

. . . which just goes to show you how much McReynolds respected the public, and how much Wanggaard disrespects the public now.

Look.  There are good Republicans in Wisconsin who currently hold high office (Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, is one such Republican), and there are good Republicans who’ve held office in the past, including McReynolds.  These are responsible people who believe in public debates, and want the public to be well-informed as to the nature of the decisions facing them.

For that matter, all six of the Republican state Senators who faced recall in 2011 allowed for public debates; one, Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), didn’t have a debate, but that’s because his opponent, Nancy Nussbaum, had to deal with funeral arrangements due to the death of her mother on the day the debate had been scheduled.  For obvious reasons, the debate was called off.  (Let the record state, however, that Cowles was willing to debate.  Wanggaard is not.)

So why is it that the 2011 Rs were willing to debate the D candidates who were running in recall elections against them, but Wanggaard is unwilling to debate Lehman now?  (And for that matter, why was Wanggaard unwilling to debate Lehman back in 2010?)

Methinks Wanggaard knows that debates or no debates, he will be out on his ear — the first one-year Senator in the history of Racine politics.  (Former Senator George Petak, R-Racine, held office from 1990-6, and was successfully recalled during the middle of his second term.)  And that’s why his public stance — i.e., “No debates!” — is so wishy-washy at absolute best. 

Were I Wanggaard, I’d want to go down fighting, so the constituents I’d represented knew that I’d at least tried to do my best by my own lights.  But nothing says he must be smart or courageous, now, does it?

Anyway, as I’m one of Wanggaard’s constituents — not that he’s ever listened to me before, mind you — I want to say this to Senator Wanggaard:

Senator, it’s time to stop ducking the issues.  Debate former Senator Lehman in a public forum.  Take questions from your constituents.  And be prepared to explain why, oh why, you voted against collective bargaining when you, yourself, have benefitted handily from collective bargaining in the past (and continue to benefit from it in the here-and-now due to your police retirement).

It’s not that you’ve benefitted that’s so upsetting, Senator — it’s that you don’t want anyone else to benefit now that you have.  (Otherwise known as, “I have mine, so who cares about you?”)  That, sir, is hypocrisy at its finest, and that is why we are so upset with you.

We don’t like hypocrisy in Racine, Senator.  We don’t like it at all.

But you’re still allowed to explain yourself, and your actions, in a way that makes more logical sense than you’ve done thus far.  So do yourself a favor, and debate Lehman; it can’t hurt, might help, and will at least make those of us who oppose you appreciate your willingness to stand up and face the music.


**Note that while Wanggaard’s upcoming recall election isn’t a 100% lead-pipe cinch, I would put it at 99.9% likely due to the fact that over 24,000 signatures were turned in while approximately 15,400 were needed to recall Wanggaard.  Not all of those signatures will be valid, but most will be; Wanggaard is headed to a recall election and he well knows it. 

WI Recall Petitions: Far More than Enough to Recall Walker, Kleefisch, and Wanggaard

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Today’s Wisconsin recall update is as follows, folks:

  • Over 1 million signatures have been turned in to recall Governor Scott Walker.  (Approximately 540,000 were needed)
  • Over 800,000 signatures have been turned in to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.  (Approximately 540,000 were needed)
  • Over 24,000 signatures have been turned in to recall State Senator Van Wangaaard (R-Racine).  (Approximately 15,000 signatures were needed.)

Please see this link from today’s online version of the Racine Journal-Times for further details.

As for how these numbers compare?  Well, with over 1 million signatures, it’s highly likely Scott Walker is going to be facing recall; considering recall organizers got nearly twice as many signatures statewide as needed, it seems very, very likely that Walker will be recalled and replaced no matter who his opponent is.

With regards to Rebecca Kleefisch, the main reason there weren’t quite as many people willing to sign to get her out (though still quite a high number at an estimated 845,000) is because she’s a cancer survivor, a former anchorwoman for one of the biggest news stations in the state (WISN-TV in Milwaukee, WI), and because as a few men of my acquaintance have said in the past, “What a shame about her politics; she’s cute.”  (For the conservative men of my acquaintance, let me point out that Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is also Mrs. Joel Kleefisch, as she’s married to a state Assemblyman.)

As for Wanggaard, the fact that 24,000 people signed to get him out is historic; I believe this is more than the amount of signatures that had been gathered to recall George Petak (R-Racine) in 1996, and Petak was indeed successfully recalled and replaced by then-Democratic Assemblywoman Kim Plache.  (I wrote about that historic election here.)  While this isn’t nearly twice as many signatures as needed as seen in the statewide Walker recall, it is still a very high number of people who were willing to sign to get Wanggaard out of office.   (If I were him, I’d be quite worried.)

As for what State Senator Wanggaard has to say about it?  From a different article at today’s online Racine Journal-Times:

Wanggaard, R-Racine, said in a press release that for union bosses and Democrats today marks the start of the “do-over of their loss in the November 2010 elections.”

While others focus on recalls and politics, Wanggaard “will continue to focus on my efforts to help Wisconsin create and retain good-paying jobs,” he said in the release. “Recalls and further division do nothing to show job creators that Wisconsin has a stable business environment and continues to poison the well of politics.”

So did you catch that?  Wanggaard says that people are trying to “do over” the 2010 elections.  By doing so, he’s attempting to belittle the organizers of the recall effort against him, but it’s not going to work.  (And notice, Wanggaard didn’t say anything about how “the people have spoken, but I intend to win them over,” which would’ve made far more sense and wouldn’t have demeaned those who’d signed the petitions against him.)

But at least Wanggaard commented at all (even if it was by a press release); so far, both Walker and Kleefisch have been unavailable for comment.

Oh, one more thing; it appears that State Senators Moulton and Galloway, and the biggest fish of them all, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, have also had more than enough signatures turned in to recall them.  So all six recalls have completed their first phase; now it’s on to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and the courts to first verify the signatures, then figure out when the recall elections will be scheduled.  (As always, I’ll keep you posted.)


Personal note:  This is bittersweet, as I really want to talk with my friend Jeff about all this.  He knew I was active in helping Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) retain Wirch’s seat; he knew I was planning to help work on the recall petitions against Walker, Kleefisch and Wanggaard.  And he was very much in favor of this, because he felt all three of them deserved to be recalled — he even said so in our last conversation on 11/11/11.

I very much wish Jeff were still alive just so I could tell him about all this; even though I couldn’t do very much due to Jeff’s sudden death (nowhere near as much as I’d hoped or planned to do), I did gather some signatures and I did, personally, sign the petitions to recall all three individuals.  I hope, wherever he is now, that he knows I did my best to get these three people removed from office, and that he’s happy that all three will, indeed, face recall.

And I’ll not even start on my feelings about how I wish I could tell my late husband Michael about all this, too.  Because I know that he, too, would’ve been in favor; he’d probably have called this a “classic overreach” and have signed right along with me. 

Randolph Brandt is right: Recall Van Wanggaard. Now.

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Folks, Randolph Brandt is mad at my state Senator, Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), and he’s not afraid to say so.  In a recent op-ed published by the Racine Journal-Times, Brandt excoriates Wanggaard for many of the same reasons I have, including:

  • Being a former police union member and voting against collective bargaining.
  • Being a former police union representative, yet still voting against collective bargaining.
  • Criticizing the practice of “double-dipping” (where someone takes a pension in two places from various state entities), while benefiting from that self-same practice himself.
  • Stripped $2M of expected state tax revenue from the City of Racine, meaning the City must either raise taxes or cut services (or, as seems to be the case, both).
  • Cut over $16M aid to Racine’s public school system.
  • Voted for district 21 to be “redistricted” as Racine and Kenosha counties, which usually tend to vote for Republicans, and district 22 to be comprised of the Cities of Racine and Kenosha, which tend to vote for Democrats.

All of this is bad enough, but the fact that Wanggaard doesn’t seem to see any of it as a problem is quite distressing.  Brandt states:

Under a gerrymandered redistricting plan approved by the Republicans and scheduled to go into effect with the November elections, Sen. Wanggaard was to be rewarded with a nice, safe, new Republican-dominated district that’s designed to excise the City of Racine from its new boundaries.

With this plan, your supposed state senator, Van Wanggaard, won’t represent you at all anymore. He’ll exchange the Racine voters he’s failed to support in favor of a whole bunch of new voters in western Kenosha County instead.

Basically, he’ll desert us, the citizens of Racine, leaving us to suffer for his poor decisions.

As I’ve been saying this for months now, it’s good to know that at least one newspaperman agrees with me.  (Brandt is the former editor of the Racine Journal-Times.)  Brandt’s commentary explains what voters should do to Wanggaard (in essence, why Wanggaard should be recalled), and concludes with the following:

Don’t stand by and watch him be rewarded for this faithlessness to his Racine constituents, the Racine voters who helped elect him in the first place.

Stop him before he skips town, across that new, safe border he voted to establish for himself, just as he once negotiated the union contract that now pays his Racine city pension. Stop him, before he gets away, reneging on his civic debt to you, for you to pay yourself.

Recall Sen. Wanggaard while you still can, before he gets away with it, before he walks away, laughing at you — the citizens of Racine — well knowing he’s left you holding the bag, for his city pension, for his budget cuts, and for his hypocrisy. 

So, did you catch all that?  Brandt criticizes Wanggaard for Wanggaard’s hypocrisy — something I have railed against for months — and points out to the voters of Racine County that Wanggaard’s own actions have brought Wanggaard to this point, which is certainly the case.

You see, many people in Racine knew Van Wanggaard because Wanggaard was a long-time city policeman.  Then Wanggaard was a County Supervisor.  And finally, in a heavily Republican year, he squeaked out an election and won the state Senate seat — mostly because people felt they knew Wanggaard and that he wouldn’t vote against the best economic interests of the City of Racine.

Yet that wasn’t the case, was it?

Racine is still locked in a cycle of extremely high unemployment (we’ve been either first or second in the state, unemployment-wise, for years now), and Wanggaard hasn’t exactly done much about it except pay it some lip service.  Yet Wanggaard has had a full year in office to have tried to do something — economic development, a bit of extra state aid, something — and he hasn’t done one blessed thing.

This is why I’ve heard from so many people in Racine, City and County, who’ve said variations on the theme of, “I expected better from Van.”  Or, “What is Wanggaard’s problem?  Doesn’t he realize we’re suffering?  Doesn’t he care?”

I don’t know whether Wanggaard realizes it, cares about it, or whether we should’ve expected better from him.  But I do know this: I was very proud to sign my name to Wanggaard’s recall petition, and I was glad to gather some signatures (not as many as I’d hoped) on behalf of his recall. 

I fully expect that Wanggaard not only will be forced to a recall election, but he will be replaced by a Democrat once the recall election is called (probably former state Senator John Lehman, though no one has officially announced his/her candidacy as of yet), staged, and counted.

As he’s sown, so will he reap — and in this case, Wanggaard has reaped the whirlwind.  As Senator Wanggaard deserves all of what is about to befall him, I cannot feel sorry for him.

Oh, yes.  One more thing:  May I be the first, Senator, to wish you well in your impending retirement from public life?


Note:  From unofficial sources, it looks like state Senators Galloway and Moulton also will be recalled, while there’s still a chance to recall Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.  All signatures must be gathered by Saturday at 11:59 PM, so all I can say to those trying to recall Fitz is, “Good luck, God/dess bless, and may the wind be at your back.”

And, of course, Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch will be recalled — easily — as I fully expect upwards of 850,000 apiece to recall (when 540,000 was the number required by law, that being 1/4 of the total vote of the last gubernatorial election) to be turned in on January 17, 2012 — four days from now.  I’ll keep you posted.

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Rep. Robin Vos (R) Calls Recalls “Frivolous” Because “They Cost Too Much”

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Representative Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is at it again.

Vos doesn’t like recall elections, even though his own party, the Wisconsin GOP, went after three Democratic state Senators last year — Bob Wirch of Kenosha, Jim Holperin of Conover, and Dave Hansen of Green Bay.  All three easily withstood their recall elections and were retained.  (Maybe Vos only dislikes them because his own party lost when they attempted to unseat these three Democratic Senators.  But I digress.)  He believes they are too expensive, and asked Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board how much it’s going to cost for the election to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch — as that’s a statewide election — mostly because he seems to believe that widely publicizing the estimated cost of the statewide recall election will somehow stop the recall process in its tracks.  Note that the gubernatorial/Lt. Gov. recall election is estimated to cost $9 million according to Wisconsin’s county clerks and the GAB; this cost covers only one election, not with the sure-to-come primary beforehand.  Supposedly, having Kleefisch on the ballot as is usually the case in any gubernatorial/Lt. Gov. election will cost more, something I highly doubt. 

Please see this link for further details:

Worse yet, in this article, Vos calls the recalls “frivolous,” saying:

“People cannot say this is somehow worth the cost to have these frivolous recalls.  It’s a shame we’ve come to this.”

I have news for Rep. Vos.  He is misusing the word frivolous, which is defined by the Free Dictionary as:

friv·o·lous  (frv-ls)


1. Unworthy of serious attention; trivial: a frivolous novel.
2. Inappropriately silly: a frivolous purchase.

Note that these recall elections, while they are expensive, have not been undertaken lightly.  It takes a lot of effort to gather 540,000 signatures statewide in two months, which is what is required to recall both Walker and Kleefisch, as that’s 1/4 of the total votes cast for Governor in the 2010 election.  And that effort, by its very definition, is the epitome of seriousness — in other words, Rep. Vos, no one would ever undertake such a grueling effort unless they were quite serious

So the first definition, that of being “unworthy of serious attention,” fails.

But what about the second definition, “inappropriately silly?”  Do these recalls qualify for that definition, either?

No, they do not.  Once again, the recalls may well be wrong in certain lights; certainly, they are in the eyes of Robin Vos.  But one thing they are not is “inappropriately silly,” especially considering Vos’s own party, the GOP, supported the recalls of Holperin, Hansen, and Wirch last summer.  (I guess we’re supposed to have short memories about that, huh?)

The main reason I see for Vos to do this is because it’s the only play the Wisconsin GOP has left, to wit:  stall.  Obfuscate.  Cast aspersions on the people recalling Walker, Kleefisch, state Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), and more — because it’s the only thing the Rs can do, as they’re very well aware that Walker and Kleefisch will be recalled.  They’re also very well aware that Wanggaard will be recalled, and that other senators who are in danger of recall (including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senator Pam Galloway, R-Wausau) may have to defend their seats as well.

So the way I see it, the only reason Vos is saying and doing all this is because he knows his party will lose these recall elections.  He’s the co-chairman of the Legislature’s finance committee — a very powerful leadership position — yet Vos has to know which way the winds are blowing in Wisconsin.  The GOP’s days are numbered; it’s quite possible that the Wisconsin Assembly (lower house) will go solid blue next year due to the GOP’s overreach.  And Vos’s own seat, which has been a safe Republican haven for at least twenty years, may even be in jeopardy because people are that angry over what the GOP has done.

I’m most unimpressed with Vos on these issues, and believe his logic chain, at best, is suspect.  His understanding of the adjective “frivolous” is flawed.  And he’s crying sour grapes because of how expensive the recalls are, when as Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said here:


“The $9 million cost of a statewide recall election is great, but the cost of doing nothing is far greater. This undertaking is the biggest investment in the future of our state and families we can make. 

It would take more than 7 recall elections to equal the cost of Walker’s tax increase on seniors and working families. It would take more than 11 recalls to equal the tuition hike Walker foisted on University of Wisconsin-System students and their families. And Walker’s $2.3 billion in tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations and the super-rich would pay for more than 255 recall elections. Wisconsin simply cannot afford Scott Walker any longer.

At the end of the day, no matter how Scott Walker and his Republican Party try to spin it, the people of Wisconsin called for this election. There is no price tag on democracy.”  (emphasis mine — BC)

Agreed, though they way I’d put it is that Vos’s complaints about how expensive the recall elections will be are an attempted framing of the narrative that should not stand, as it is fundamentally flawed both on its merits and its ethics.

So let’s bring on the recalls already.  Because whether Vos or the Wisconsin GOP likes it or not, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; if the GOP can undertake recall efforts as they did last summer, they have absolutely no right to complain now.  (Or as I said the other day with regards to Wanggaard’s impending recall election:  “Them’s the breaks.”)