Jim Holperin recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2011)

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Jim Holperin

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
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A campaign to recall Jim Holperin, a member of the Democratic Party, from his elected position representing District 12 in the Wisconsin State Senate took place in 2011. Holperin defeated Republican Kim Simac in a recall election held August 16, 2011.

Path to the ballot

About 23,300 signatures to recall Holperin were filed on April 21, 2011. Signatures were filed against nine different state senators in Wisconsin, while a total of sixteen were originally targeted for recall.[1] Challenges to the petition were set to be reviewed by the board on May 31,[2] but were delayed until June 8.

After hearing challenges to the petitions made by the incumbents, as well as presentations from the respective recall committees and board staff, the Board certified 19,255 signatures to recall Holperin,[3], approving the election for July 19. However, since multiple challengers filed, there will be a primary on July 19, with the recall on August 16.

Holperin survived a previous recall campaign in 1990, when he was serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Location of Wisconsin State Senate District 12
Map of Wisconsin Senate District 12


Republican Kim Simac announced on May 5 that she would be running against Holperin. Simac is a Tea Party leader and President of the Northwoods Patriots.[4]

Robert Lussow announced on May 18 that he was also running for the Republican nomination. The Republican Party of Lincoln County supported Simac in the campaign. Lussow is not a member of the Republican Party, according to the Republican Party of Lincoln County Chair, Bob Rajek.[5]

A primary between Simac and Lussow was held on July 19,[6] with Simac easily defeating Lussow.

Holperin defeated Simac in the recall on August 16.

August 16 Recall - District 12[7]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Holperin (D) Green check mark transparent.png 30,450 55.12%
Kim Simac (R) 24,682 44.67%
Scattering 110 0.19%


On June 21, Holperin participated in a debate with Robert Lussow.[8]

The debate was held at Tomahawk High School, with the majority of talk covering education. Lussow supported the new collective bargaining law but voiced his opposition to the cuts to education in the recently-passed state budget. Meanwhile, Holperin defended his actions in fleeing the state during the collective bargaining bill negotiations.

Roughly 100 people were in attendance at the debate. However, Kim Simac did not attend. “For whatever reason, she decided to decline," Lussow said. Simac posted on her facebook page that she was unable to attend because she was running her horse camp and could not commit to events during a two-week period.[9]

Ads relating to the campaign

Ad controversy

Watchman Broadcasting, a non-profit Christian Television network, sent Sen. Holperin a cease and desist letter, alleging a Holperin campaign ad used copyrighted material. The material in question was an interview with his opponent, Kim Simac, on the network’s program “By the Book.” Simac also called on Holperin to remove the ad.

Holperin said he did not receive such a letter and had no plans to stop airing the ad. "Some things she's said and positions she's taken over the past two years are quite at odds with what she's saying as a candidate. We feel it's our obligation as opponents in this election to point that out," he said.[10]

Petition challenged

Democrats challenged the petition to recall Holperin on May 5, citing widespread fraud. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said they found "Circulators lying and misleading people about what the petitions are all about, circulators tricking people into signing, Wisconsin citizens learning their names appeared on the petitions when they never intended to sign, and other infractions."[11] Democrats said that of 534 people they contacted who had signed the petition, 9.2% said they were misled into signing or never actually signed.[12]

Democrats also challenged the petitions against Dave Hansen and Robert Wirch.

Certification challenge delays

On May 27, 2011, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced it would be unable to consider the recall petitions for the three Democratic incumbents at the May 31, 2011 meeting. Citing "numerous factual and legal issues," the Board said in its statement that more time was needed to ensure that a complete record would be available for examination -- particularly since the decision would likely be appealed to the courts.[13]

In a release, the GAB officials said they did not expect to be able to hold a hearing on the recalls of Democratic incumbents until the week of June 6, which raised potential legal issues, as the initial extension granted to GAB for certification required it to ultimately make determinations before June 3.[13]

The board went ahead with hearings on May 31 for the recalls of Republican incumbents Sheila Harsdorf, Robert Cowles and Alberta Darling.[14] Officials released a 125-page memo on May 27, 2011 concerning the signatures and legal challenges.

The GAB filed a brief on June 1 asking the court for a one-week extension, which would give them until June 10 to finish working on the three Democratic recalls. The case was heard in Dane County Court at 1:30 pm on Friday, June 3.[15][16] Dane County Judge John Markson ruled that there was good cause for the extension, and that the GAB did not violate any rules by taking up the petitions out of order.[17]

Ultimately, on June 8, after nearly 9 hours of deliberations, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board certified the recalls of three Democratic incumbents and set an initial election for July 19.[18]

Legal challenges

Following the certification of the recall petitions against the three targeted Democrats on June 8, Jeremy Levinson, attorney for the incumbent Democrats, did not immediately indicate whether an appeal would be filed based on the GAB’s ruling.[19] Soon after, the party appealed the decision with the Dane County Circuit Court due to what they said was widespread fraud.

State Chairman Mike Tate said, "The GAB agreed that out-of-state circulators hired by the Republican Party to gather recall signatures committed repeated and flagrant acts of election fraud upon the people of Wisconsin. A higher authority should review this stunning conspiracy to defraud the voters, and throw out all the signatures gathered by these deceitful circulators."[20]

While thousands of signatures were rejected by the Board, Democrats said that if Wisconsin statutes were followed to the letter there would not be enough signatures for any of the recalls.[21]

After hearing arguments on July 8, Judge Richard Niess ruled that all of the nine recalls should proceed, saying that election officials had already thoroughly and correctly addressed the complaints.[22]


The National Rifle Association gave Sen. Holperin an “A” rating and endorsed him in the race for the 12th District. Holperin said, “I’m grateful to the NRA for recognizing my legislative record of protecting gun rights and our northwoods hunting heritage. I’m proud to have the organization’s endorsement and I intend to continue working to advance legislation that protects 2nd amendment rights.”[23]

Simac, a vocal proponent of gun-rights, wrote a children’s book entitled With My Rifle by My Side. The publisher described the book, which has won praise from Glenn Beck, as “a story written for young children to encourage an appreciation and respect for appropriate firearm use.”[24]


Conducted August 12-14

August 16, 2011 Recall - District 12 - Daily Kos/PPP Poll[25]
Candidate Party Percent
Jim Holperin Electiondot.png Democratic 55%
Kim Simac Ends.png Republican 41%
Undecided 4%

Conducted August 13-14

August 16, 2011 Recall - District 12 - Red Racing Horses/We Ask America poll
Candidate Party Percent
Jim Holperin Electiondot.png Democratic 51%
Kim Simac Ends.png Republican 49%

Campaign contributions

Candidate fundraising

An investigation by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign found Holperin's campaign report failed to disclose occupation and/or employer information about one campaign contributor who gave a total of $150.[26]

Jim Holperin Campaign Finance Reports (GAB ID No. 0101410)
Report Date Filed Beginning Balance Total Contributions (Expenditures) Cash on Hand
Special Pre-Election[27] August 8, 2011 $147,858.23 $140,609.77 $(146,837.31) $141,630.69
July Continuing[28] July 11, 2011 $75,319.92 $185,698.99 $(91,400.68) $169,618.23
Special Pre-Election[29] April 25, 2011 $65,610.21 $96,858.50 $(87,148.79) $75,319.92
Spring Pre-Election[30] March 28, 2011 $16,153.74 $54,045.39 $(4,588.92) $65,610.21

The following political action committees have made donations to Jim Holperin:

  • American Family PAC
  • Boilermakers-Blacksmiths LEAP
  • Capital Area Uniserv North PAC 4
  • Capital Area Uniserv South PAC
  • Democratic Party of Wisconsin
  • Lakewood Uniserve Council PAC
  • Lincoln Co Democratic Party
  • MTI Voters (Voice of Teachers)
  • Northwest United Educators PAC
  • Oconomowoc Education Association
  • Rock Valley Education Professionals
  • Sheet Metal Workers' Local Union #19
  • Sheet Metal Workers PAC
  • State Senate Democratic Committee
  • United Transportation Union PAC
  • West Central Education Association Political Action Committee
  • Winnebagoland Uniserv PAC

Official reports

Recall committees

As of the April 25, 2011 filing, the Jim Holperin Recall Committee had raised $8,393.00 and spend $7,933.09.

Jim Holperin Recall Committee Campaign Finance Reports (GAB ID No. 600004)
Report Date Filed Beginning Balance Total Contributions (Expenditures) Cash on Hand
Special Pre-Election[31] April 25, 2011 $1,473.61 $2,283.00 $(3,296.70) $459.91
Spring Pre-Election[32] March 28, 2011 $0.00 $6,110.00 $(4,636.39) $1,473.61

Additional reading

Official documents

The following documents are attributed to the Holperin recall and have been publicized by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.



See also

External links


  1. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Two state representatives won't run against Holperin," May 5, 2011
  2. Talking Points Memo, "Wis. Elections Staff Recommend Recalls Against Three GOPers," May 20, 2011
  3. WisPolitics, "Dem recalls certified," June 8, 2011
  4. WJFW, "Kim Simac Announces Candidacy for 12th State Senate District," May 5, 2011
  5. Wausau Daily Herald, "Lincoln Co. Board chairman challenges senator," May 19, 2011
  6. Lakeland Times, "If Holperin recall proceeds, Republican primary shaping up," May 27, 2011
  7. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 12 recall election results," accessed August 26, 2011
  8. ‘’WAOW “Holperin and Lussow face off in education forum,” June 20, 2011
  9. Kim Simac for Senate Facebook page “Post on June 21, 2011"
  10. ‘’WJFW, “Broadcasting Company Tells Sen. Holperin To Stop Campaign Ad,” July 13, 2011
  11. FOX 11, "State Dems challenge GOP recall efforts," May 5, 2011
  12. Democratic Party of Wisconsin, "GOP Election Fraud Exposed," May 5, 2011
  13. 13.0 13.1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Review of recall petitions going slowly; July 12 election in doubt," May 27, 2011
  14. Greenfield Reporter, "Wis. election officials delay decision on recall petitions for Dems, may need date change," May 27, 2011
  15. WisPolitics, "GAB formally asks judge for more time to consider recall petitions against Dems," June 1, 2011
  16. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "State board requests more time to review recall petitions," June 1, 2011
  17. NBC 15, "UPDATE: Judge Grants Week Extension for Recall Review," June 3, 2011
  18. WISN, “GAB Certifies 3 Democratic Recall Elections,” June 8, 2011 (dead link)
  19. WFRV “Wis. elections board trims petition signatures,” June 8, 2011
  20. WisPolitics, "WisDems: Dems to appeal GAB decision on widespread GOP election fraud," June 15. 2011
  21. Madison.com, "Dems: Throw out recall petitions," June 15. 2011
  22. WUWM, "Judges Rules Senate Recalls Can Proceed," July 8, 2011
  23. WisPolitics, “Holperin Campaign: Holperin gets “A” rating and NRA endorsement,” July 25, 2011
  24. Nordskog Publishing, “With My Rifle by My Side," accessed July 26, 2011
  25. ‘’Daily Kos, “Wisconsin recalls: Democrats hold double-digit leads in final 2 races,” August 15, 2011
  26. FDL Reporter, 'State group files campaign finance complaints against 3 recall targets,” June 7, 2011
  27. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: STATE OF WISCONSIN GAB-2: Holperin - Senate," August 8, 2011
  28. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: STATE OF WISCONSIN GAB-2: Holperin - Senate," July 11, 2011
  29. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: STATE OF WISCONSIN GAB-2: Holperin - Senate," April 25, 2011
  30. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: STATE OF WISCONSIN GAB-2: Holperin - Senate," March 28, 2011
  31. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: STATE OF WISCONSIN GAB-2: Jim Holperin Recall Committee," April 25, 2011
  32. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: STATE OF WISCONSIN GAB-2: Jim Holperin Recall Committee," March 28, 2011