Negative attacks mark Wisconsin recall races

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July 14, 2011

By Greg Janetka

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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: Next Tuesday, Wisconsin will see its first state senate recall election since Democrat Gary George was successfully recalled in 2003. This time another Democrat, Dave Hansen is trying to retain his seat against Republican challenger David VanderLeest.

VanderLeest, who organized the recall campaign against Hansen, held a press conference this morning outside of the Brown County Courthouse where he signed a pledge stating he would not increase taxes if elected and said he would not talk about his personal issues.[1]

He referred to the election as "a referendum on whether Wisconsinites approve or disapprove of senators being derelict of duty for 26 days and going AWOL to the state of Illinois."[2] VanderLeest, whose latest campaign finance report filed with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board shows he has raised $2,000 this year, is not going to run TV ads and is relying on volunteers, calling it "a ‘David and Goliath’ run."[3] Conversely, Hansen has raised $316,000 for the year, with nearly $190,000 in this quarter alone.

Meanwhile, Green Bay City Clerk Lauri Marenger estimates the election will cost the city between $30,000 and $35,000.[4]

With the Democratic primaries in Republican incumbent districts over, candidates in the other races have started to ramp up their election campaigns as well. Here are some updates:

Kapanke vs. Shilling

Winning by 40 percent in the primary, Assemblywoman Jennifer Shilling (D) said she is continuing to gain momentum, stating, "I have been overwhelmed with support and as I’ve represented La Crosse for the last 10 years, I continue to meet new people who are literally coming out of the wood work to volunteer and help on the campaign."[5]

Kapanke expressed optimism, "I’ve always been out in the district. It’s been an honor for me to serve the people in the 32nd and I look forward to continuing that."[5]

Pasch vs. Darling

Current State Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch (D) issued a press release yesterday saying "the Darling campaign has finally admitted to avoiding debates" with her after Darling turned down debate requests from Disability Rights Wisconsin and Advocates for Education.

Pasch states, "We are still waiting on Darling to confirm a date for additional reputable hosts, but have been given no sign of good intent. It is time for my opponent to emerge from the shadows and join me in a debate on the issues.[6]

According to Darling’s campaign, debates are still in the planning states. Darling campaign manager Andrew Davis said there will likely be two forums in the next month between the two candidates.[7]

Moore vs. Harsdorf

The closest of the six primaries saw Shelly Moore defeat protest candidate Isaac Weix by 10 percent. Republicans have jumped on this point, with the state party issuing a press release targeting Moore today, while Sheila Harsdorf’s campaign issued two against her opponent.

In its release, the Wisconsin GOP referred to Moore’s win in the primary as "an embarrassing performance," and goes on to discuss a PolitiFact story from last Friday that gave Moore a "Pants on Fire" rating for a direct-mail piece that said, "Senator Harsdorf and Her Party Want to Eliminate Medicare As We Know It, Forcing Seniors to Pay Thousands More a Year for the Same Coverage."[8] The woman featured in the mailing said she is a supporter of Moore, but did not consent for her name to be used and did not know Medicare would be the issue. According to the GOP press release, the woman is still supporting Moore despite being upset about how she was portrayed in the campaign mailing.

The first press release from Harsdorf also attacks Moore for the flyer, with spokesman Nathan Duerkop saying, "Moore should publicly apologize to all seniors today and cease her lie-filled direct mail campaign."[9] The second release alleges that Moore went to an NEA Convention instead of being in a local parade.[10]

Holperin vs. Simac

Watchman Broadcasting, a non-profit Christian Television network, sent Sen. Jim Holperin a cease and desist letter, alleging a Holperin campaign ad uses copyrighted material. The material in question is 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 says he has not received any cease-and-desist letter and has 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.[11]

Simac will face off against Robert Lussow in the July 19 Republican primary. The two met up at a radio forum on Tuesday to take questions from listeners and the media.[12] While agreeing on most issues, Lussow said that he is more qualified for the position, having served as an elected official for over 10 years, while Simac has never served in office.[13]

Meanwhile, Simac has dwarfed Lussow in fundraising, taking in nearly $90,000 in donations, while Lussow reported raising only $350 and not spending any of it.

See also


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