Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Cost of Recall Elections

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.”)