Pam Galloway recall, Wisconsin State Senate (2012)

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An effort to recall Pam Galloway, a member of the Republican Party, from her elected position representing District 29 in the Wisconsin State Senate was launched on November 15, 2011.[1][2]

Galloway resigned her seat but the recall went forward with state Reps. Jerry Petrowski (R) and Donna Seidel (D) vying for the seat, which Petrowski won.[3]

Supporters of the recall submitted over 21,000 signatures on January 17, 2012. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board voted unanimously on March 12 to order the recall, determining that at least 18,511 of the signatures were valid.[4]

The primary took place on May 8 and general election was June 5.[5]

Galloway resigned her seat effective March 17, 2012. She announced her resignation the previous day, right after the conclusion of the 2012 legislative session, but said that the recall had nothing to do with her decision.[6] The recall was still ordered and Republicans used a replacement candidate. Candidates had until April 10 to collect 400 signatures in order to run for the seat.[7]

Prior to her resignation, Galloway called the recall "inappropriate," explaining “I have done exactly what I said I would do when I campaigned. My commitment was clearly prioritizing the needs of the taxpayers. That’s what I’ve done, either through Act 10 or balancing the budget without tax increases.”[8]


See also: Timeline of events of the recall of Wisconsin State Senators in 2012
  • November 15, 2011: Democrats file recall petition against Pam Galloway.
  • January 17, 2012: Organizers turn in over 21,000 signatures to recall Galloway to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
  • January 31: State Rep. Donna Seidel (D) announces she will challenge Galloway if a recall is scheduled
  • February 9: Galloway submits a signature challenge, contesting 3,817 signatures.
  • March 12: GAB votes unanimously to order a recall election.
  • March 14: Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess signs an agreement scheduling the primary for May 8 with general election on June 5.
  • March 16: Galloway submits her resignation from the Senate effective March 17.
  • May 8: Donna Seidel defeats James Buckley to win the Democratic primary.
  • June 5: Petrowski defeats Seidel to win the seat.

Path to the ballot

The Committee to Recall Pam Galloway filed a petition on November 15, 2011. They had 60 days to collect 15,647 signatures to force a recall election. Nancy Tabaka-Stencil, whose name was on the petition documents, said "Really, to pick a single issue (that encouraged a recall effort) is hard. Their actions have hit a lot of people hard.”[8]

On December 15, Democrats announced they had collected over 10,000 signatures on recall petitions.[9] On January 17, 2012, organizers turned in over 21,000 signatures.[10]

In response, Galloway stated, "my campaign will review each and every signature to make certain that they are valid and documented in accordance with state law. I owe it to those who made their voices heard in 2010 and who did not sign the recall petitions to carefully examine these signatures collected by the paid surrogates of Madison-based special interests."[11]

Galloway had ten days to challenge the signatures.[12]

Signature verification

Under state law, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has 31 days to determine if enough valid signatures were submitted to force a recall. However, with 1.9 million signatures to review for six recalls, they asked a judge for extra time on January 20, 2012. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess granted the extension on January 25, giving the board an additional 30 days.[13]

The state purchased software from Artsyl Technologies to help with the process. Workers scanned the petitions into computers and the software read the names and converted them into type. A human operator verified the name, correcting any errors before it was entered into a database. The databases could then be used to check for duplicate signatures.[14]

The petitions were processed in a secret location, but a webcam was set up to provide a live feed of the work.[15] Following posting of the petitions for Galloway online, watchdog group Media Trackers said they found several signature pages that are essentially copies of other pages.[16]

Under state law, Galloway had only 10 days to challenge the validity of the petitions starting on January 18. However, as GAB officials were not able to readily provide Galloway with the signatures against her, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess extended the period to 20 days.[17]

Signature challenge

Galloway submitted an official signature challenge on February 9, contesting 3,817 signatures.[18]


Donna Seidel (D) lost to Jerry Petrowski (R) in the recall election on June 5, 2012.

Recall of Wisconsin State Senator Pam Galloway, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJerry Petrowski 61.3% 44,107
     Democratic Donna Seidel 38.6% 27,744
     - Scattering 0.1% 58
Total Votes 71,909
Source: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

Marathon County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Johnson announced on January 12, 2012, that he would run against Galloway if a recall election was called. He is a retired probation and parole agent and held various elected positions within the AFSCME.[19]

Johnson said Galloway's support for limits on collective bargaining was not the only reason he wanted to see her recalled, stating, "Sadly, Pam Galloway is not concentrating on what's most important to our area, jobs. At the same time that over 1,000 people in the Wausau area have lost their jobs, she is focusing on limiting sex education and making sure people can buy booze at six in the morning."[20]

State Rep. Donna Seidel (D) announced on January 31 that she would challenge Galloway in a recall. In response Galloway's campaign issued a press release stating, “Senator Galloway will not bend to the greedy Madison special interests and public sector union bosses who are behind this recall effort. It is Donna Seidel’s inability to say no to these left wing special interest groups that nearly drove Wisconsin off an economic cliff.”[21]

Johnson announced he would no longer be running, but would run for Seidel's seat in the Assembly if she defeated Galloway.

Following Galloway's resignation, Jerry Petrowski (R) announced on March 21 that he would run for the seat against Seidel.[22]

James Buckley is a Republican but ran as a Democrat in order to ensure a primary in the race. The state GOP announced in March that they would be recruiting protest candidates for the primaries to make sure the recalls would all happen on the same day.[23]

Wisconsin State Senate District 29 Recall - Democratic Primary Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngDonna Seidel 63.5% 17,930
James Buckley 35.8% 10,099
Scattering 0.8% 217
Total Votes 28,246

Legal issues

Recalls in old districts or new?

On November 18, 2011, a group of citizens asked a federal court to make sure that the recall elections took place in the old districts where the legislators were elected from, rather than the newly drawn districts.[24] Three days later, a group of Republicans asked the state Supreme Court to require any recall elections take place in the new districts. The new districts, drawn by the Republican majority, would help the GOP.[25]

During the first week of November Republicans in the Senate attempt to fast-track a bill that would have immediately implemented the new Senate districts while allowing the old Assembly districts to remain. A vote on the bill was indefinitely delayed when Republican Sen. Dale Schultz said he would not vote for it, denying the necessary majority.

Republicans filed a second lawsuit in Waukesha County on November 29, requesting a panel of three circuit court judges hear the case. The new GOP suit was filed to make sure proper procedures are followed in the case.[26] On December 2, Republicans asked to withdraw their first lawsuit, a move Democrats immediately tried to block, saying the court should keep the case and dismiss it at a later date. The request came after it was known that Justice David Prosser, sidelined with an illness, would not take part in the case.[27] That same day, Republicans amended their complaint, requesting a single Waukesha County judge hear the case, rather than the three-judge panel.[28]

Three days later, Republicans announced they were switching lawyers in the case, from the law firm of Michael, Best and Friedrich, to attorney Michael Dean. Michael, Best and Friedrich was the same firm used by Republicans during the redistricting process.[29]

Walker lawsuit

On December 15, Governor Scott Walker's campaign and the state Republican Party director filed suit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in Waukesha County Circuit Court. The lawsuit asks that a judge require GAB to search for and strike duplicate signatures, fake names and illegible addresses.

Stephan Thompson, executive director of the state Republican Party, stated, "The decision of one individual who chooses to sign a recall petition should not carry more weight than the decision of another who chooses not to sign. This lawsuit seeks to protect the Wisconsin electors whose voices have been trumped by those purposefully signing multiple petitions."[30]

Currently, GAB reviews signatures to ensure there are enough to trigger a recall and verify they include a Wisconsin address and are dated during the recall period. It is up to challengers to point out potential issues with signatures.[31]

On December 20, The Recall Walker Committee, as well as the committees to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and three Republican state senators, filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss the suit. They argued that the suit was designed to create uncertainty, disruptions and expenses in the recall process.[32] At a hearing on December 29, Judge Mac Davis, a former Republican state Senator, denied the motion to intervene, citing the need for speed and desire to avoid possible "chaos" that could come if new parties were allowed in the case.[33]

Davis issued a ruling on January 5, 2012, stating that GAB must take "reasonable" actions to eliminate duplicate and illegal signatures from recall petitions. However, he gave them discretion to decide how to achieve that, noting that requiring such action "is limited by the resources and ability they have or are reasonably able to obtain." GAB Director Kevin Kennedy said they will have to discuss the decision in order to determine what procedures in their process they will need to change.[34]

On February 3, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Madison overturned the ruling that denied recall organizers from joining the suit, stating that they had a valid interest to join. The ruling also threw out Judge Davis' decision that GAB must actively seek to strike fake and duplicate signatures. The case went back to Davis.[35]

Campaign contributions

Pam Galloway Campaign Finance Reports (GAB ID No. 0104850)
Report Date Filed Beginning Balance Total Contributions (Expenditures) Cash on Hand
Recall 30 day report[36] December 15, 2011 $20,311.84 $65,626.00 $(2,335.82) $83,602.02

Ads relating to the campaign

Additional reading

Official documents

See also

External links


  1. WSAU, "Sen. Galloway also targeted for recall," November 15, 2011
  2. FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
  3. Associated Press/C-SPAN, "Campaign 2012 - Wisconsin Election Results," June 5, 2012
  4. The Journal Times, "Wis. board orders recalls against 4 GOP senators," March 12, 2012
  5. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
  6. Post Crescent, "GOP state senator Pam Galloway resigns," March 17, 2012
  7. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "State Sen. Galloway to resign, leaving Senate split," accessed March 16, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 Wausau Daily News, "State Sen. Pam Galloway says she will defend record in recall attempt," November 15, 2011
  9. Wausau Daily Herald, "Democrats say they have more than 10,000 signatures supporting recall of state Sen. Pam Galloway," December 15, 2011
  10. Wausau Daily Herald, "Updated: Galloway recall organizers collect 21,000 signatures," January 17, 2012
  11. Wausau Daily Herald, "Full statements from Galloway, petitioners on recall," January 17, 2012
  12. Wausau Daily Herald, "State Sen. Pam Galloway has 10 days to challenge recall petition signatures," January 10, 2012
  13. Green Bay Press Gazette, "Judge extends recall verification period," January 25, 2012
  14. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Software for recall petition database needs human assistance," January 21, 2012
  15. News 8000, "Webcam set up for Walker recall signature review," January 10, 2012
  16. FOX6, "Recall petitions against four state senators placed online, already creating controversy," January 23, 2012 (dead link)
  17. ABC 7, "Judge gives Wis. gov more time to challenge recall," January 25, 2012
  18. The Journal Times, "Wanggaard submits recall challenge," February 9, 2012
  19. Wausau Daily Herald, "Marathon County Democratic Party chairman steps up to challenge Galloway," January 13, 2012
  20. WSAW, "Former Marathon Co. Dem Chairman to Run Against Galloway if Recalled," January 12, 2012
  21. Wausau Daily Herald, "Seidel announces Senate bid, will challenge Galloway," January 31, 2012
  22. WSAW, "Rep. Petrowski to run for 29th District Senate Seat," March 21, 2012
  23. WQOW, ""Fake Democrat" files to run in 29th Senate District," April 4, 2012
  24. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Group asks court to ensure recall elections are held in old Senate districts," November 21, 2011
  25. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Republicans sue to place recalls in new districts," November 21, 2011
  26. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Republicans file second suit seeking new districts for recalls," November 30, 2011
  27. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Republicans withdraw redistricting lawsuit with state Supreme Court," December 2, 2011
  28. Courthouse News Service, "Dueling Claims over Wisconsin Redistricting," December 5, 2011
  29. The Republic, "Republicans change lawyers in case challenging Wisconsin redistricting," December 5, 2011
  30. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker, GOP sue state elections and ethics agency over recall effort," December 15, 2011
  31. Appleton Post Crescent, "Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recall effort hits 90 percent, group says," December 16, 2011
  32. The Republic, "Recall Walker backers ask court to dismiss lawsuit," December 20, 2011
  33. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Court rules out intervention by recall groups," December 29, 2011
  34. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "General Accountability Board ordered to boost vetting of recall petitions," January 6, 2012
  35. The Republic, "Wis. appeals court vacates ruling on how state elections board must review recall signatures," February 3, 2012
  36. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Friends of Pam Galloway - Recall 30 day report," December 15, 2011