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We Have Dates In Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Statehouse, Madison

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board has reached a decision. The recall election for Governor Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is a go!

Walker has done everything possible to delay or deflect the will of the people of Wisconsin, at one point whining that the taxpayer should pick up the tab for his people to verify every single one of the one million signatures on the recall petitions because it simply wasn’t possible that that many Wisconsinite could want him out of office. According to the GAB, at least 900,938 do. That’s the number of verified signatures they have determined for the recall, when only 540,208 were required.

Having already verified the recall petitions for four Republican state senators, the hope was that the verification process would be finished in time to book the Walker/Kleefisch vote for the same dates as the senate votes. It is and they will.

Primary elections for these recalls will be held on May 8. The final elections will be held on June 5. This is less complicated than the recall elections last year which involved both parties and staggered votes until they finally reached the important ones, the recall of six Republican state senators.

For the governor’s race, there are three currently declared Democratic candidates: former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug LaFollette. LaFollette has the highest name recognition among Democrats, having been in the vortex of battles over implementation of Walker’s union busting law, and seen by many Democrats are a champion of legality over party. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost the governorship to Walker in 2010, has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but he has not declared his intention to run. His announcement is expected next week. In the lieutenant governor’s race, Madison firefighter and state firefighters union president Mahlon Mitchell is the declared candidate against Kleefisch.

In the Senate races, Sen. Pam Galloway resigned recently, leaving her 29th district an open election. Rep. Donna Seidel is the announced Democratic candidate for the district. The 29th is in the upper left quadrant of the state, the large pink district on the map below. It is a largely rural district. Sen. Van Van Wanggaard represents the 21st Senate District, which is the small green district on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. It extends from the city of Racine and its satellite cities to the city of Rochester in the west. Former Sen. John Lehman is announced as the Democrat for this recall election. The 23rd Senate District is south of the 29th, the gray area at the bottom of the left upper quadrant. It is also primarily rural and currently represented by Terry Moulton. Former Representative Kristen Dexter is running to replace Moulton. The Democrats have not, as yet, recruited anyone to run against the Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, who represents the 13th Senate District. It is in the lower right quadrant, the brown district. It is also primarily rural. The pattern of representation in Wisconsin is very typical of the country – rural areas have Republican representation while urban areas have Democratic reps. Racine was anomalous.

With the resignation of Sen. Pam Galloway, the Wisconsin Senate is now a 16-16 tie between parties. To gain the majority, the Democrats need to win two of these recalls, not one. District 21 has the best odds because the larger municipalities have suffered the most under Walker’s budget cuts, but the rural areas have seen his cutbacks reducing school personnel and law enforcement.

The Democrats opted to avoid doing any advertising until the verification process was completed in all the races. This has meant Walker has had a clear field to sell himself to the voters, with ads touting his great accomplishments and frequent appearances on Fox News where he gets treated with kid gloves and positive vibes. Against the Walker blitz is the real news, his trips out of state to attend Koch brother-sponsored fund raisers, the ethics investigation that has resulted in the arrests of over a dozen of his personnel from the Milwaukee County Executive’s office during the 2010 election, the economic news which proves how little his policies have really accomplished. Wisconsin has lost jobs every month since Walker took office.

Walker has a huge campaign chest compliments of his out-of-state cronies, though he whines about how much month the national unions can throw against him. But the recall forces have personnel, volunteers to go door-to-door and engage voters in the best way. Personal contact beats ads every time.

In the meantime, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court needs to rule on the lower court rulings that stopped the photo ID law from being enforced, and needs to do so quickly. Wisconsin’s normal primary for the Republican presidential candidate is scheduled for Tuesday, April 3. Though all the attention has been on the recall elections, the state has hundreds of other elections in the pipeline between here and November 6, including primaries for the United States Senate seat, all the Congressional seats and state, county, city and town elections. There must be times when Wisconsinites think all they do is vote.

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