Democratic primaries for Wisconsin recalls take place tomorrow
By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka
MADISON, Wisconsin: Polls open at 7 a.m. CST tomorrow for six Democratic primary races, the first elections of the recall campaigns. In each of the races a legitimate Democrat is facing a protest candidate put on the ballot by Republicans. Here is an overview of who is running:
- Current District 95 state Rep. Jennifer Shilling squares off against former La Crosse County Republican Committee member James Smith.
With no Republican primary tomorrow, voter turnout has been unpredictable to gauge. On one hand, elections on non-regular dates historically have a lower turnout than a general election. But with the intense scrutiny and attention being given to the recalls, it is possible turnout could be higher. Given that there are no Republican primaries -- and the GOP strategy to urge its voters to head to the polls anyway -- turnout could ultimately be even higher than a normal election.
The chart below details the voter turnout in each district from the 2008 election cycle (primary and general).
|Total Number of Votes Cast in 2008 State Senate Elections|
|District||Democratic primary||Republican primary||General election total|
||71 (No candidate)||5,361 (Cowles)||60,900|
||8,748 (Sheldon Wasserman)||12,561 (Darling)||99,328|
||4,805 (Alison Page)||4,204 (Harsdorf)||98,967|
||24 (No candidate)||5,732 (Olsen)||54,486|
||1,849 (King)||5,803 (Hopper)||83,724|
||1,983 (Tara Johnson)||1,877 (Kapanke)||87,881|
Randy Hopper explained, "The results of this election are going to come down completely to turnout. People are completely divided and know where they stand, so it's going to come down to who can get more of their base to come out and support them."
The April state Supreme Court race between David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg saw an unprecedented turnout, with nearly 1.5 million votes cast. Prosser partially attributed his win to the high number of voters. "Well this was a campaign that involved voter turnout. The spring elections normally have 20% turnout. We had something like 35% statewide and we had a much higher percentage in certain areas," He said.
In District 10 the St. Croix County Republican Party has been running a last minute campaign to get out the vote for protest candidate Isaac Weix, including emailing Republican supporters and robocalls (timed out).
- On Friday, the America Votes Action Fund reported a $250,000 contribution from the DRIVE committee, located in Washington DC. DRIVE is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Political Action Committee. Additionally the group received separate donations of $5,000 each from M-PAC and IMPACT -- PACs based out of Washington DC and New York, respectively.
- Today, Friends of Sheila Harsdorf filed a GAB-3 detailing $8,575 in contributions from 12 individuals and organizations.
After hearing arguments on July 8, Judge Richard Niess ruled that all of the nine recalls should proceed, saying that election officials had already thoroughly and correctly addressed the complaints.
GAB director and general counsel Kevin Kennedy said of the decision, "I want to express my gratitude that the court upheld the well-thought-out decisions of the Government Accountability Board, which were backed up by the incredible hard work of the Board’s dedicated staff to ensure all the parties received fair consideration of their recall petitions and challenges."
All nine incumbent senators targeted for recall had filed lawsuits seeking to stop the recalls. The Republican incumbents argued that improperly filed paperwork by the recall campaigns rendered the petitions invalid, while Democrats argued that the petitions against them were rife with fraud and many additional signatures should have been struck from them.
Later on the same day, he released another statement indicating that Hansen had rejected the offer to debate - "We regret the unfortunate decision of Senator Hansen earlier today to deny his constituents a public debate on the issues that affect us all. He has once again proven his inability to discuss anything that really matters in WI. He lists no issues on his web page, and continues to elude political reality. This further illustrates his inability to be an effective representative of ALL his constituents."
Meanwhile, in the 14th District Fred Clark’s campaign issued a statement today calling out Luther Olsen for failing to respond to requests for debates. "With concrete invitations on the table, it is time for Senator Olsen's campaign to stop waffling and communicate clearly and publicly about his intentions to actually speak to voters about the real issues in this campaign," the statement reads in part.
Clark initially challenged Olsen to debates in late May, which, according to Clark, Olsen ignored. On June 5, Olsen said he would be happy to debate his opponent, but as Clark had not yet filed nomination papers at that point, it was premature to set up debates.
- Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011)
- Wisconsin State Senate
- Laws governing recall in Wisconsin
- Redistricting in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin State Elections Board, "Results of Fall Primary Election - September 9, 2008," accessed July 11, 2011
- GermantownNOW, "Fight for Darling’s Senate seat begins July 12," June 28, 2011
- The Northwestern, "Partisan turnout will be key in recall elections," June 12, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "2011 Spring Election results - Justice of the Supreme Court," April 15, 2011
- ‘’WJFW, "Prosser in Northwoods," May 1, 2011
- ‘’Hudson Patch, "St. Croix County Republicans Campaigning for ‘Democrat’ Weix in Wisconsin Senate Recall Primary," July 11, 2011
- WUWM, "Judges Rules Senate Recalls Can Proceed," July 8, 2011
- WisPolitics, "Government Accountability Board: Statement regarding dismissal of recall lawsuits," July 8, 2011
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Recall-targeted GOP senators challenge validity of petitions," June 1, 2011
- Madison.com, "Dems: Throw out recall petitions," June 15. 2011
- WisPolitics, "VanderLees Campaign: Statement on granting interviews," July 8, 2011
- WisPolitics, "VanderLeest Campaign: Statement on debates," July 8, 2011
- WisPolitics, "Clark Campaign: Time to plan debates," July 11, 2011
- Baraboo News Republic, "Clark, Olsen debate debate," June 1, 2011
- Post Crescent, "No date set in recall debate between Republican State Senator Luther Olsen and Democratic opponent Fred Clark," June 6, 2011
- Young Progressives tweet, July 10, 2011