Nygren appeal denied by judge, first Wisconsin recall election set for July 19

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July 1, 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

John Nygren appealed the GAB ruling to remove his name from the ballot. Today, a judge denied that appeal.
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MADISON, Wisconsin: Dane County Judge Richard Niess denied state Rep. John Nygren’s appeal to be placed on the ballot in the District 30 recall election against Dave Hansen.[1]

In a statement issued following the decision, Nygren said he will not further challenge the decision in court, blaming the outcome on "Democrat-appointed GAB staff that has constantly worked against me as I defended myself from the Democratic Party’s frivolous challenges."[2]

Although appointed by a Democratic governor, three of the six members of the GAB previously held office as Republicans.

Eric McLeod, Nygren’s attorney, argued that three signatures struck from the petition were in fact valid. One signer listed his work address on the petition, which is out of the 30th District and was therefore deemed invalid. His home address, however, is in the correct district. The second signature was that of Nygren himself, who signed the nomination papers as a circulator, but never actually signed the petition and was not counted toward the necessary 400 signatures. The third signature was that of a supporter who accidentally signed nominating papers for Nygren as well as David VanderLeest, which is illegal.[3] An affidavit from the woman stated that she planned to vote for Nygren.

Addressing McLeod, Niess said there must be a balance between legal issues raised by the suit and the rules governing elections. To that end, Niess said, "The only way to have that is to have rules that apply to everybody." McLeod responded that there is a "higher principal" in this case and that "We are on the side of putting candidates on the ballot."[4] Lewis Beilin, representing the GAB, said it is the responsibility of each candidate to properly file their paperwork, and that "Mr. Nygren is not entitled to a do over."[5]

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate applauded Niess’s decision, saying "Rep. Nygren clearly failed to submit the number of valid signatures required to secure a place on the ballot, and there is no one to blame but John Nygren and Scott Walker's Republican Party for this embarrassing failure."[6]

Did You Know?
John Nygren won re-election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2010 by over 8,000 votes, raising $48,952.

Nygren had previously filed suit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on Monday following the Board’s ruling that he did not have enough valid signatures to make the ballot.

The Board said that the signatures were correctly removed per established GAB rules and denied him a request for reconsideration.[7] In a letter to McLeod, GAB Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy, wrote,
There is no right to request reconsideration of Board decisions regarding ballot access, and

reconsideration is not contemplated by the Statutes. It is particularly important for the Board, local election officials, and candidates to rely on the certainty of Board determinations without

reconsideration because of the short period available for producing ballots and conducting the recall election[8]

With Nygren removed from the ballot, the recall election between Sen. Dave Hansen (D) and David VanderLeest (R) will take place as scheduled on July 19. It will be the first of the nine recalls to occur, with two Republican primaries scheduled that day as well. Nygren could still vie for the seat, but he would have to win as a write-in candidate. The most recent high-profile write-in candidate to win an election took place last fall in Alaska. After losing the U.S. Senate Republican primary, Lisa Murkowski won re-election as a write-in candidate.[9]

See also