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Signature deadline tomorrow for opponents to Republican incumbents in Wisconsin recall

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June 13, 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: Candidates wishing to run in the six Republican recall elections ordered for July 12, must file petitions with at least 400 valid signatures to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by 5 p.m. CST tomorrow.

The GAB has a list of all registered candidates on their website that they will be updating regularly. As of Noon CST today, the following candidates are listed:

District 2

District 8

District 10

District 14

District 18

District 32

Because Wisconsin does not have registration by party, it is an open primary state -- meaning anyone can legally run in any party's' primary.[1]

The deadline for challenges to these petitions will be at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 17.

Placeholder candidates

Over the weekend, it was revealed that some groups requested the Democrats to field spoiler candidates of their own in Republican races.[2] The group We are Wisconsin published a release urging the Democratic Party to run spoiler candidates in the Republican primaries as well.[3]

What’s at stake is a political game of chess. Each side is trying to predict the opponent’s next move. Republicans have indicated a desire to run Democratic primary candidates in all six Republican recalls, in part to delay the actual recall until August 9. However, Democrats appear to be predicting that the Republicans may in fact be looking to split the recalls and have some take place on July 12 with still others on August 9.

As of today, there are spoiler candidates who have declared an intent to run in all six districts. However, that does not guarantee they will file sufficient signatures. Conceivably, some Republican incumbents could face recall on July 12, while still others would wait until August 9 in order for a primary to weed out the opposition.

In response, the Democratic Party has indicated a desire to keep all races on the same day, and have therefore filed "placeholder" candidates to run in the primaries in the event that a spoiler candidate does not in fact have the required 400 signatures to appear on the ballot. The party says one candidate will be legitimate while the other will be a "placeholder."[4]

Either way, it's looking increasingly clear that no incumbent will face recall until August at the very earliest -- leaving a long campaign season ahead.

"Ungodly sums"

As we previously reported, the recall elections are shaping up to be extremely expensive campaigns. To date, candidates targeted for recall have filed two reports, the Spring Pre-Election and Special Pre-Election reports. That data show more than $1.2 million flowing into the race on the side of candidates, while comparable reports show the recall campaigns took in nearly $450,000. But that is just the money that has to be reported. This does not take into account money being spent by organizations that do not legally have to disclose their spending to the GAB - such as 501C4 groups.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, referred to the amounts being raised as "ungodly sums." "It's safe to say that we're going to see some million-dollar-plus senate elections here. We've seen some seven-figure spending in senate races before in Wisconsin, but it's very rare. You'll see that in these recall elections," he said.[5]

Last week the WDC filed campaign finance complaints today against Republicans Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke, and Democrat Dave Hansen for failing to disclose occupation and employer information about campaign contributors.[6] The WDC announced that they found undisclosed occupation and employer information for four of the other campaigns as well, but the Hopper, Kapanke and Hansen campaigns were by far the most.

Meanwhile, the cost of holding the elections is proving to be an expensive affair as well. La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer estimated a primary in the recall election against Dan Kapanke would cost the county and various municipalities $50,000. Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg said primaries in the recalls against Luther Olsen and Randy Hopper would cost the county $10,000 each.[7] While estimates and municipal costs vary greatly, all involved seem to agree with Freiberg’s statement - "This is going to be costly. We just keep spending, spending, spending on elections this year."[8]

See also