Difference between revisions of "Douglas La Follette"

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Revision as of 12:20, 30 March 2012

Douglas J. La Follette
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Current candidacy
Running for Wisconsin Governor (Recall)
Date of primaryMay 8, 2012
General electionJune 5, 2012
Current office
Wisconsin Secretary of State
In office
1974 - 1978, 1983 - Present
Term ends
Years in position (current service)32
Years in position (previous service)4
Prior offices
Wisconsin State Senate
Bachelor'sMarietta College (1963)
Master'sStanford University (1964)
Ph.D.Columbia University (1967)
Date of birthJune 6, 1940
Place of birthDes Moines, IA
Office website
Douglas J. La Follette (born June 6, 1940, in Des Moines, Iowa) is the current Democratic Wisconsin Secretary of State. He was first elected to the statewide position in 1983 and has been subsequently re-elected to the office seven times.

La Follette is running for Wisconsin Governor in the 2012 recall election against incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, if one is called.


  • Bachelor's degree, Marietta College (1963) in business
  • Master of Science degree, Stanford University (1964) in chemistry
  • Doctoral degree, Columbia University (1967) in organic chemistry

Professional experience

La Follette began a teaching career as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Known as a diligent environmental activist prior to running for public office, he was a Wisconsin organizer for the first "Earth Day for Gaylord Nelson" in 1970 and co-founded Wisconsin's Environmental Decade. La Follette helped organized the Earth Day celebration in Wisconsin again in 1990.

Political career

His first attempt at a public office came in 1970 when he ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives seat based out of Wisconsin's first congressional district. He lost in the Democratic primary contest to the future United States Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin. La Follette later served in the Wisconsin State Senate representing Kenosha County for one term. currently serves as the Wisconsin Secretary of State, a post to which he was first elected in 1974. In 1978, he launched his campaign to be the state's next lieutenant governor, losing while on a ticket with Governor Martin Schreiber. He was elected to the secretary of state office again in 1982, defeating the incumbent Vel Phillips and has remained in the statewide position ever since. He has often run unopposed, and shuns fundraising in the style of former Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire. In 1990, his opponent -- Madison attorney and radio personality Stuart Levitan -- campaigned on a promise to eliminate the Secretary of State's office, whose duties such as monitoring lobbying activities and investigating ethics violations have been reduced and transferred to other agencies including the State Board of Elections under LaFollette's tenure.

Some have called for the elimination of the Wisconsin Office of Secretary of State, believing it to be nothing more then “a huge government filing cabinet where one can find land deeds, oaths of office and the complete Blue Book collection since 1853. The secretary’s most notable task is affixing the state’s Great Seal to all of the official acts of the governor." [1] Wisconsin State Senator Alan Lasee of De Pere proposed a constitutional amendment in April 2009 calling for the elimination of the offices of Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State, estimating it would save the state up to $2.2 million dollars over the course of two years. [2]

Since being elected Secretary of State, LaFollette has run twice run for federal office. In 1988, he ran for the United States Senate, losing in the Democratic primary to Herbert Kohl. In 1996, he lost another primary contest in the first congressional district, this time to Lydia Spottswood, who then lost the general election to Mark Neumann.

2006 election

On September 12, 2006, LaFollette easily won re-nomination as the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State over primary challenger Scot Ross, who, earlier that year, admitted to illegally campaigning on state time as a member of the State Assembly Democratic Caucus. [3] Ross would go on to become executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a progressive political activist organization.

His general election opponent, Republican Sandy Sullivan, drew local media attention for her self-published "tell-all" book in which she claimed she had affairs with several ex-Green Bay Packer football players. [4]


State executive officials
State legislatures

Stolen quotes

In 1970, the Kenosha News broke the story that La Follete, while campaigning in the Democratic Primary in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District against Les Aspin, produced a brochure supposedly full of quotes from average citizens who played up his family ties to ‘Fighting’ Bob La Follette. The Wisconsin newspaper revealed those quotes were stolen from the campaign literature of Michael Harrington, a Massachusetts Democrat. [5]


He was ordered in 1984 to pay a $500 fine for allowing the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua (WCCN), an activist organization whose purpose was to promote people-to-people projects and locally-based "municipal foreign policies" by individual United States cities as an alternative to the militaristic foreign policy of the United States government under President Ronald Reagan, to use his secretary of state office as a base for their activities. La Follette’s then-wife was the leader of the non-profit organization at the time. [6]


In 1988, La Follette was punished with another fine ($50), this time for allowing lobbyists to sign a letter requesting that the Wisconsin State Legislature to increase the staff in the office of secretary of state.

Notification of law change

In 1990, Stuart Levitan, a challenger for the Democratic nomination for Wisconsin Secretary of State, charged La Follette “through ingnorance or incompetence [for] fail[ing] to notify [Milwaukee] county officials of a proposed change in state law that will cost the county at least $50,000 a year.” [7]

State computer use

In 2006, he was fined $500 by the Wisconsin State Ethics Board after he admitted to using a state-owned computer and email system to create and send campaign-related documents. [8]

Other roles

  • LaFollette is the author of the 1991 book The Survival Handbook: A Strategy for Saving Planet Earth.
  • He was a consultant on the Council on Economic Priorities.
  • He has also served as the Public Affairs Director for the Union of Concerned Scientists as well as the Assistant Director of the Mid American Solar Energy Complex.
  • In 2003 he ran for, and was elected to, the board of directors of the Sierra Club for a three-year term. [9] He did not seek re-election in 2006.
  • He was a Fulbright Distinguished American Scholar in 2003.
  • LaFollette was formerly on the advisory board of Carrying Capacity Network and is currently an adviser to NumbersUSA.



See also: Scott Walker recall, Wisconsin (2012)

La Follette is running for Wisconsin Governor in the recall election against incumbent Gov. Scott Walker. Recall petitions were turned in on January 17, 2012 and officially certified on March 30. La Follette filed papers to run on February 23[10] and officially declared his campaign on March 28.[11] Kathleen Falk and Kathleen Vinehout are also seeking the Democratic nomination in the race. Hariprasad "Hari" Trivedi is running as an independent. The primary will take place on May 8 with the general election on June 5. If a primary is not necessary, May 8 becomes the general election.[12]


See also: Wisconsin Secretary of State election, 2010
  • 2010 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary
  • Douglas LaFollette ran unopposed this contest
2010 Race for Secretary of State - General Election [13]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Douglas La Follette 51.6%
     Republican Party David D. King 48.4%
Total Votes 2,081,104


2006 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary [14]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Douglas La Follette 72.0%
     Democratic Party Scott Ross 28.0%
Total Votes 332,265
2006 Race for Secretary of State - General Election [15]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Douglas La Follette 57.0%
     Republican Party Sandy Sullivan 38.0%
     Green Party Michael LaForest 4.5%
     Write-In 0.5%
Total Votes 2,075,405


  • 2002 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary
  • Douglas La Follette ran unopposed in this contest
2002 Race for Secretary of State - General Election [16]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Douglas La Follette 56.6%
     Republican Party Robert G. Lorge 41.3%
     Concerned Citizens Edward J. Farmi 2.1%
Total Votes 1,680,164

Campaign contributions

2006 Race for Secretary of State - Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $25,897
Total Raised by Primary Opponent $69,415
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $17,148
Top 5 Contributors Wisconsin State AFL-CIO $8,500 (32.82% of Total)
Wisconsin Laborers District Council $4,000 (15.45%)
Operating Engineers Local 139 $2,500 (9.65%)
Electrical Workers Local 890 $2,000 (7.72%)
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway $1,000 (3.86%)
Individuals v. Institutions $5,172 (20%)
$20,100 (77.6%)
In v. Outside State $21,820 (84.4%)
$4,045 (15.6%)


  • Environmental Excellence Award, Midwest Renewable Energy Assoc., 1992
  • Environmental Advocate of the Year, Clean Water Action Council, 1996
  • Environmental Quality Award, Environmental Protection Agency

Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Post Office Box 7848
Madison, WI 53707-7848

Phone: (608) 266-8888 (ext 2)
Fax: (608) 266-3159
E-mail: statesec@sos.state.wi.us

External links

Suggest a link


Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Zimmerman
Wisconsin Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Vel Phillips
Preceded by
Vel Phillips
Wisconsin Secretary of State
Succeeded by