Republicans End Bid to Stop Special Elections

It appears Republicans in the State Legislature and Governor Scott Walker have fully abandoned efforts to stop a pair of special elections to fill vacant legislative seats. On Wednesday, an appellate judge became the third in a week to rule against Walker’s efforts to block the elections, prompting Walker to drop a bid to bring his challenge to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. On Thursday, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Republican lawmakers cannot advance legislation that would cancel the elections. It appears clear Fitzgerald did not have the votes in his caucus to pass such a bill.

State Senator Luther Olson previously indicated he likely would be a no vote. On Thursday morning, State Senator Rob Cowles of the Green Bay area told Media Trackers he would definitely be a no vote on such a bill. Two Republican no votes would be enough to defeat the bill. Cowles said there were likely other Senate Republicans who would oppose the bill.

Sen. Frank Lasee of De Pere and Rep. Keith Ripp of Lodi resigned in December to take Walker administration jobs. Walker contended state law allowed the seats to stay open until November. Democrats claimed the law compelled Walker to hold special elections. Last month, voters in the two districts, along with a group affiliated with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, filed suit demanding the special elections be held. A Dane County judge appointed by Walker ordered him to schedule the elections. Two other courts have followed suit.

Walker and Republicans have argued that holding special elections at such a late date would cause confusion with the fall election process. Critics argued that the delay was of Walker’s own making.

Walker ordered the special election to be held on Tuesday, June 12. If a primary is necessary, it will be held on Tuesday, May 15. Two candidates previously announced they would run in the regular August primary for the Republican nomination for Lasee’s former seat: State Representative Andre Jacque and Alex Renard of Green Bay.

Circulation of nomination papers for candidates may begin today. Nomination papers must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.