GAB certifies recalls for Cowles, Darling and Harsdorf
By Greg Janetka
MADISON, Wisconsin: Today the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board certified signatures for the Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, and Sheila Harsdorf campaigns, clearing the next hurdle on the path for recall elections to take place this summer.
The Republican incumbents challenged the petitions -- which was the reason for the special meeting in Madison. While some of the challenges to the petitions were upheld, most were rejected with little controversy. The legal counsel for the Republican incumbents challenged the validity of the signatures, basing their main argument on improperly filed paperwork, the same tactic they previously employed - and saw rejected - with the Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke and Luther Olsen campaigns. The incumbents still have the option to challenge the decision of the board in court.
The GAB was originally scheduled to review the challenges to the campaigns to recall three Democratic incumbents -- Jim Holperin, Robert Wirch, and Dave Hansen -- but the board announced on Friday that those hearings were being delayed. Citing "numerous factual and legal issues," the Board said additional time is needed to ensure that a complete record will be available for examination. Following the announcement, recall groups targeting the three Democrats said the decision was politically motivated and called for the resignation of GAB Director Kevin Kennedy. Kennedy denied the accusations, saying his record "speaks for itself."
The recall groups also said the move violates a court order mandating all petitions be decided by June 3. The board is expected to seek an extension on that deadline from the court this week. Recall elections were originally to take place on July 12, but that date now appears to be in jeopardy. The three petitions approved by the board today brings the total to six, but none have been legally certified. Once that occurs, elections are required to take place six weeks later. The board now has until June 3 -- one week from today -- to certify the 6 Republican recalls in order for the July 12 recalls to continue as planned.
- Green Bay Press Gazette, “Wisconsin GOP state Sen. Robert Cowles of Green Bay faces recall election,” May 31, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Review of recall petitions going slowly; July 12 election in doubt," May 27, 2011
- Channel 3000, "Recalls Can Proceed Against 3 More GOP State Senators," May 31, 2011