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Dan Kapanke

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Dan Kapanke
Kapanke dan.jpg
Wisconsin State Senate District 32
Former member
Term in office began
Term in office ended
August 9, 2011
Political party Republican
Dan Kapanke (b. August 21, 1947) was a Republican member of the Wisconsin Senate who served as Majority Caucus Leader. He represented District 32 from his election in 2004, until his recall on August 9, 2011. Democrat Jennifer Shilling defeated Kapanke in the recall election and served out the remainder of Kapanke's term, which expired on January 3, 2013.

Kapanke's professional experiences include substitute teacher; owner of the La Crosse Loggers Baseball Team; manager; regional sales manager; home builder; United States Marine Corps Reserve; and Wisconsin National Guard.

Kapanke earned a B.S. and MEPD from University of Wisconsion, La Crosse. He and his wife, Ruth, have four children.

Committee assignments


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Kapanke served on these committees:


In the 2009-2010 legislative session, Kapanke served on these committees:

Elections history

2011 recall

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
See also: Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011) and Dan Kapanke recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

Kapanke lost to Jennifer Shilling in a recall election held August 9.

Needing 15,588 to force a recall, petitioners submitted an estimated 30,000 signatures[1] to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on April 1, 2011.[2][3] The signatures submitted to recall Kapanke were the first set of signatures submitted in the overall recall battle.[4] On May 23, the GAB rejected most challenges to the petition, clearing the way for a recall election.[5]


Democratic Assemblywoman Jennifer Shilling ran against Kapanke. Kapanke's attorneys filed papers in Dane County Court on May 31, seeking to stop the recall election.[6] The GAB officially certified the recall election on June 3. This set the stage for a July 12 election, but since multiple candidates filed, a primary was held July 12 with the recall election on August 9.[7]

At a meeting of the La Crosse County Republicans on May 25, a secret recording captured leaders considering running a spoiler candidate against Shilling in order to necessitate a primary and push back the recall election.[8] La Crosse County Republican Party Chair Bill Feehan said he met with an attorney and would file suit against the person who made the recording.[9]

On June 7, James Smith, a recent member of the La Crosse County Republican executive committee, announced he was running as a protest candidate in order to necessitate a Democratic primary between himself and Shilling in the 32nd District. He explained his candidacy - “I want to bring light on the issue that 22,000 signatures can pretty much overturn an election where even the loser got 40,000 votes.”[10]

July 12 Democratic primary[11]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jennifer Shilling Approveda 25,340 70.19%
James Smith 10,664 29.54%
Scattering 98 0.27%

Kapanke lost to Shilling in the recall.

August 9 Recall - District 32[12]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jennifer Shilling (D) Green check mark transparent.png 33,193 55.38%
Dan Kapanke (R) 26,724 44.58%
Scattering 25 .04%


On November 4, 2008, Dan Kapanke won re-election to the Wisconsin State Senate, District 32.[13]

Dan Kapanke raised $278,184 for his campaign, while Tara Johnson raised $265,933.[14]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 32 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Dan Kapanke (R) 45,454
Tara Johnson (D) 42,647
Map of Wisconsin State Senate District 32

Senator Kapanke at the Wisconsin GOP Convention

Recent legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Sen. Kapanke includes:[15]

  • A bill creating a tax credit for meat processing modernization and expansion[16]
  • A bill eliminating the enrollment limit for charter schools[17]

Campaign donors


According to records available as of May 17, 2011, Kapanke raised $5,378 during 2010, a year he was not up for election. Listed below are the top five contributors.[18]

Donor Amount
Tavern League of Wisconsin $1,000
Wisconsin Dental Association $1,000
Northwestern Mutual Life $1,000
Dean Health System $500
Eli Lilly & Co $500


Some of the top donors to Sen. Kapanke's 2008 campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics:[19]

Goodwin R. Lyons Jr., Ty R. Taylor, Terry A. Cowgill, Friends of Mike Huebsch, Randy and Carol Knox
  • Finance, insurance and real estate interests were his largest donor group.

In 2008, Kapanke collected $278,184 in donations.

Listed below are the top four contributors to his campaign.[20]

Donor Amount
Goodwin Lyons, Jr. $2,000
Ty Taylor $1,800
Terry Cowgill $1,650
Friends of Mike Huebsch $1,500

External links

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  1. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Committee to Recall Kapanke," accessed on June 9, 2011
  2. Washington Post, "Wisconsin recall drive already making history," April 4, 2011
  3. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Kapanke recall campaign to deliver signatures Friday," April 1, 2011
  4. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "First recall campaign MAY have enough signatures," March 29, 2011
  5. FOX 11, "GAB clears way for 3 GOP recall elections," May 23, 2011
  6. Wisconsin State Journal, "Recall-targeted GOP senators challenge validity of petitions," June 1, 2011
  7. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Recall of Senator Dan Kapanke Certificate of Sufficiency and Order," June 3, 2011
  8. La Crosse Tribune, "Secret tape: GOP considered spoiler candidate to challenge Shilling," June 1, 2011
  9. La Crosse Tribune, "County GOP to sue over secret tape," June 4, 2011
  10. La Crosse Tribune, “Former GOP officer to challenge Shilling as Democrat,” June 7, 2011
  11. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "July 12 Primary Results District 32," accessed August 11, 2011
  12. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 32 Recall Election Results," accessed August 19, 2011
  13. Wisconsin State Election Results, 2008
  14. Follow the Money, "2008 campaign contributions," accessed December 29, 2014
  15. Legislation
  16. Assembly Bill 12
  17. Bill 220
  18. 2010 contributors to Dan Kapanke
  19. Follow the Money, "2008 campaign contributions," accessed December 19, 2014
  20. 2008 contributors to Dan Kapanke
Political offices
Preceded by
Brian Rude
Wisconsin State Senate District 32
2004–August 9, 2011
Succeeded by
Jennifer Shilling