Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘WI GOP

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

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.”)