State Legislative Tracker: Wisconsin recall primaries begin, Minnesota shutdown continues
By Jackie Arthur
Special sessions are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts.
The following 5 states remain in regular legislative sessions:
- Note: California and Wisconsin are both convened in ongoing special sessions, but are still considered to be in regular session.
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.
Wisconsin: Tomorrow's Democratic recall primary begins the first of two recall primaries to take place in Wisconsin this year. The winning Democratic candidates from Tuesday's primary will advance to face Republicans Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, and Dan Kapanke in the general election on August 9.
Recall campaigns directed against 16 Wisconsin state senators were launched in the wake of events surrounding the introduction of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 11, the "Scott Walker Budget Repair Bill" in February 2011, including the union protests in Madison, Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill.
Six Republican and three Democratic state senators have been targeted by active recall campaigns. Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting the senators. Challenges were filed in all 9 of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8.
Recalls against the six Republicans were all certified on June 3, which sets the date for the recall election for July 12, 2011. However, since multiple candidates filed to run against the incumbents, a primary will be held on July 12 while the actual recall will be four weeks later, on August 9, 2011. Recall primaries against two Democratic senators are scheduled for July 19, 2011. Additionally, because there is only one Republican candidate running in District 30, that recall will take place on July 19 when incumbent Dave Hansen (D) faces David VanderLeest (R).
|2011 Wisconsin Recall Campaigns|
|District||State senator||Winning % in 2008||Recall papers filed||Recall signatures required||Recall signatures submitted||Recall signatures validated||Percentage of signatures validated||Opponent||Recall primary date||Recall election date|
||Jim Holperin||51.2%||February 19||15,960||23,300||19,255||82.63%||Kim Simac||July 19||August 16|
||Robert Wirch||66.7%||February 24||13,537||18,300||17,138||93.65%||Jonathan Steitz||July 19||August 16|
||Dave Hansen||66.1%||February 25||13,852||18,872||15,540||82.34%||David VanderLeest||N/A||July 19|
||Robert Cowles||Unopposed||March 2||15,960||26,000||23,959||92.15%||Nancy Nusbaum||July 12||August 9|
||Alberta Darling||50.5%||March 2||20,343||30,000||22,243||74.14%||Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch||July 12||August 9|
||Sheila Harsdorf||56.4%||March 2||18,816||23,000||23,685||102.97%||Shelly Moore||July 12||August 9|
||Luther Olsen||Unopposed||March 2||14,733||24,000||22,207||92.52%||Assemblyman Fred Clark||July 12||August 9|
||Randy Hopper||50.05%||March 2||15,269||22,500||22,953||102.01%||Jessica King||July 12||August 9|
||Dan Kapanke||51.4%||March 2||15,588||30,000||21,776||72.58%||Assebmlywoman Jennifer Shilling||July 12||August 9|
Minnesota: Today, the Minnesota government enters its 11th day of shutdown, with no sign of a resolution in sight. Republican Representative Larry Howes told the Minneapolis Star that he "doesn't see a quick conclusion" to the closure, and that his gut tells him that if it is not resolved by the time the state fair rolls around, it could be as long as next year before it is over.
On Friday, July 1, the Minnesota government officially entered "shut down," as lawmakers were not able to overcome the budget stalemate. Most fireworks, picnics and celebrations were called off as all government services except those deemed essential were cut off for the immediate future. Campgrounds, state parks, highway rest stops, golf courses, and zoos will remain closed until a budget agreement can be reached. Thousands of workers face layoffs, a cessation of state issued drivers licenses and road construction screeched to a halt. Roughly 23,000 of approximately 36,000 state employees will be furloughed, and all but the most critical state functions suspended. Some of the services spared from the shutdown are police patrols, prison staffing, the executive and legislative branches of state government and the courts, and programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and temporary assistance to needy families.
The Republican controlled Legislature and Democratic Governor Mark Dayton have been at odds since early January over spending. Earlier this year, Dayton vetoed the Legislature's proposed budget, largely because it did not contain the revenue he had anticipated.
To help solve the problem, Governor Dayton requested that Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin appoint a mediator to intervene. Legislators also petitioned the judge, asking her to order Dayton to call for a special legislative session. Both requests were turned down.
A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011.
The next state with a signature filing deadline is Louisiana on September 8. Virginia's signature filing deadline was June 15, however a full and comprehensive candidate list has not yet been released. Virginia's primary has been rescheduled to August 23, 2011 instead of its usual date of June 14, 2011 after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process..
On July 4, Oklahoma Representative Rusty Farley passed away, leaving a vacancy in the House of Representatives. Farley died in a Paris, Texas hospital of a pulmonary aneurysm at the age of 57. A special election to fill the now vacant District 1 seat must be called within 30 days.
Partisan composition of the Oklahoma House
|Party||As of February 2015|
Partisan composition of the New York Assembly
|Party||As of February 2015|
Arkansas Representative Fred Smith (D) was convicted of theft for failing to repay a school district a duplicate payment of over $29,000. Smith has resigned, but has promised to appeal the decision. A special election will be held to replace him on July 12, 2011.
Absentee Vote Controversy
The Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners will send monitors to observe the July 12 special election. The decision to send the monitors is part of an ongoing investigation into allegations made by Democratic primary candidate Kim Felker. Felker claims that she received an offer to illegally obtain absentee votes, an offer she refused. Felker was defeated in the primary by eight votes, but lost the absentee vote 69-401. Felker also reported several irregularities at the Turrel polling site. Hudson Hallum said that he observed no irregularities in the primary, but had no objection to the monitors. He also noted that the "offer," as recorded on Felker's answering machine, did not appear to offer anything illegal.
June 12 Republican recalls
Tomorrow, Wisconsinites will hit the polls to vote in the Democratic primary recall election. The winners will run on August 9 against the six Republican incumbents who are targeted for recalls. In order to run in the July 12 election, candidates were required to turn in 400 valid signatures to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by 5 p.m. CST on June 14. Since multiple candidates filed, the July 12 election will be a primary and the recall took place August 9. The following Democratic candidates will appear on the July 12 ballot:
Incumbent: Robert Cowles, District 2
- July 12 Democratic primary:
Incumbent: Alberta Darling, District 8
- July 12 Democratic primary:
Incumbent: Sheila Harsdorf, District 10
Incumbent: Luther Olsen, District 14
- July 12 Democratic primary:
Incumbent: Randy Hopper, District 18
Incumbent: Dan Kapanke, District 32
Utah House District 30
On June 13, Utah's first openly gay legislator, Jackie Biskupski (D), resigned when unforeseen circumstances called for her to move outside her district. Democratic Party Vice Chairman Richard Jaramillo says the seat will be filled during a special election July 16 at the state party convention.
Upcoming special elections for the month of July include:
- July 12 - Arkansas House District 54
- July 16 - Utah House District 30
- July 19 - Georgia Senate District 26 and House District 139.
- North Carolina General Assembly, Legislative Calendar, accessed July 11, 2011
- CBSNews, Pawlenty: Minnesota shutdown could be a good thing, July 1, 2011
- CNN, "Wisconsin battle shifts to recall votes," June 15, 2011
- Wall Street Journal, "Wisconsin Fight Moves to Recalls," June 16, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Jim Holperin Recall Committee," accessed on June 9, 2011
- WisPolitics, "Dem recalls certified," June 8, 2011
- Simac defeated Robert Lussow in a primary on July 19
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Taxpayers to Recall Robert Wirch," accessed on June 9, 2011
- Steitz defeated Fred Ekornaas in a primary on July 19
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Recall Dave Hansen," accessed on June 9, 2011
- John Nygren was removed from the ballot by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for insufficient signatures, on June 27, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Cowles," accessed on June 9, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Chart detailing recall signatures, accessed on May 23, 2011
- Nusbaum defeated Otto Junkermann in a primary on July 12
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Darling," accessed on June 9, 2011
- Pasch defeated Gladys Huber in a primary on July 12
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Harsdorf," accessed on June 9, 2011
- Moore defeated Isaac Weix in a primary on July 12
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Olsen," accessed on June 9, 2011
- Clark defeated Rol Church in a primary on July 12
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Hopper," accessed on June 9, 2011
- King defeated John Buckstaff in a primary on July 12
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Kapanke," accessed on June 9, 2011
- Shilling defeated James Smith in a primary on July 12
- UPI.com, Minnesota shutdown still going strong, July 11, 2011
- Reuters, UPDATE 2-Minnesota government shutdown begins after talks fail, July 1, 2011
- Stateline.org, Shutdowns loom in Iowa, Minnesota, June 27, 2011
- Ballot Access News, "Virginia House Passes Bill Moving 2011 Primary from June to August," January 20, 2011 (dead link)
- Virginia General Assembly, "History of House Bill 1507 (2011)"
- Virginia Public Access Project, "Update:Primaries to be held August 23," January 30, 2011
- www.ocolly.com Oklahomans mourn death of state legislator, July 5, 2011 (dead link)
- Arkansasmatters.com, "Arkansas State Rep. Fred Smith Resigns," January 26, 2011 (dead link)
- Arkansasmatters.com, "Special Election in District 54," February 14, 2011
- Arkansas News, "Authorities investigating East Ark. primary, monitors requested," July 4, 2011
- Arkansas News, "State to send monitors to observe East Arkansas election," July 6, 2011
- WisPolitics, "WisDems: Dems to end placeholder candidacies in recall elections," June 17, 2011
- The Salt Lake Tribune, Two openly gay candidates vying for Biskupski’s seat, June 29, 2011
- Fox13now, 6 Democrats vying for Utah House seat, June 30, 2011