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Democratic primaries for Wisconsin recalls take place tomorrow

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July 11, 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

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:

Democratic Primaries

District 2

District 8

District 10

District 14

District 18

District 32

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).[1]

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

One clerk in Alberta Darling’s district estimated up to 80% of voters will show up at the polls.[2]

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."[3]

The April state Supreme Court race between David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg saw an unprecedented turnout, with nearly 1.5 million votes cast.[4] 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.[5]

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).[6]

Campaign reports

  • 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.

Lawsuits dismissed

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.[7]

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."[8]

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,[9] while Democrats argued that the petitions against them were rife with fraud and many additional signatures should have been struck from them.[10]


In the 30th District, David VanderLeest's (R) campaign released a statement on July 8 challenging Dave Hansen to "a debate on the issues facing Wisconsin, not a debate about distractions."[11]

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."[12]

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.[13]

Clark initially challenged Olsen to debates in late May, which, according to Clark, Olsen ignored.[14] 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.[15]

Some twitter users commented that Harsdorf planned to debate Moore on June 28, although there has been no independent confirmation of that account.[16]

See also


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