State Legislative Tracker: Republicans to run as Democrats in Wisconsin Senate recalls
Edited by Greg Janetka
Note: Ballotpedia has been publishing the Redistricting Roundup, a weekly report on redistricting news, every Friday. Beginning April 9, all redistricting updates will be added to the State Legislative Tracker.
This week 29 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. No states are scheduled to convene or adjourn this week.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:
- January 17: Alaska, New Mexico
- January 18: Hawaii
- January 23: Utah
- January 24: Minnesota
- February 1: Oregon
- February 5: Oklahoma
- February 7: Alabama
- February 8: Connecticut
- February 13: Arkansas, Wyoming
- March 12: Louisiana State Legislature
The following states have ended their regular session:
- February 16: New Mexico
- March 6: Oregon
- March 8: Utah, Washington
- March 9: Arkansas, Florida, Wyoming
- March 10: Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia
- March 16: Wisconsin (will return for limited business on April 24)
- March 19: South Dakota
- March 29: Georgia, Idaho
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
Special sessions were a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. Overall, in 2011 there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.
Thus far there have been five special sessions in 4 states. Two of which are ongoing.
The session ended last Tuesday following the House's 61-47 vote to pass the Senate-drawn plan for new districts. The first map was rejected for failing to meet Fair District standards as required by a constitutional amendment that was passed by voters in 2010. The new map now goes to the court, who will have 30 days to approve or reject it.
The Virginia General Assembly remains in special session. It ended its regular session on March 10 without passing a new state budget. Thus, the same day that the Legislature adjourned, it also formally started a special session to address the issue.
Democrats initially sought changes to spending priorities, as well as a power sharing agreement in the equally divided Senate. Last week Democrats agreed to separate their quest for more power in the chamber from the budget process and the Senate passed a new $85 billion budget by a vote of 35-4. The measure then went to the House, who passed its own version in February. Negotiators are currently working to create a compromise between the two.
Washington is currently in special session. Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) called for the session on March 8 after it was clear the Legislature was going to end its 60-day regular session without passing a supplemental budget plan. House Democrats passed a budget agreement by a 53-45 vote, but it included a delayed payment for schools, something that had previously failed in the Senate. While Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, three members broke from the party ranks to vote for a Republican plan that got rid of the delayed payment and focused instead on more spending cuts.
Senate Republicans unveiled a new plan on March 15 that Gregoire said she had no knowledge of despite meetings between the governor and senate leaders of both parties. Angered at being kept in the dark, she said she would not sign most of the bills awaiting her signature and threatened to veto some of them in order to force lawmakers to break their stalemate. Gregoire lifted her ban on bill signing last Thursday, saying, “In the next 48 hours, we could have an agreement. Then again, in the next 48 hours, it could all fall apart.”
Indeed, lawmakers failed to reach an agreement and negotiations remain ongoing. The special session ends April 10 and Gregoire said that unless a compromise is made by tomorrow, there will likely not be enough time to complete all the work necessary by the deadline. If this happens, the governor can either call another special session or make across-the-board cuts to state programs on her own.
As of today, April 2, 4 states' sessions are currently in recess:
- Kansas - In recess from March 31 to April 24. Will return for wrap-up session April 25, scheduled to adjourn April 30.
- New Jersey - In recess for budget hearings from March 16, 2012 through May 15, 2012
- North Carolina - Mid-term recess June 18, 2011 through May 12, 2012
- Wisconsin - In recess from March 17, 2012 through April 23, 2012. Will only return to conduct limited business.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, April 2, 2012
|There are 7,384 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,300 (44.7%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,963 (53.7%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||36|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||58|
|Total tied or non-partisan chambers||5|
|2012 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||16|
|Total Special Sessions||5|
A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.
1,267 (64.3%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,979 (81.0%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-election during the presidential election year.
- 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
- 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.
The 5,979 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.
So far, deadlines have passed in 22 states:
- Illinois – December 5, 2011
- Ohio - December 7, 2011
- West Virginia - January 28
- Kentucky – January 31
- Indiana – February 10
- Nebraska - February 15 (incumbents), March 1 (non-incumbents)
- Pennsylvania - February 16
- North Carolina - February 29
- Arkansas - March 1
- Oregon - March 6
- California - March 9
- Idaho – March 9
- Texas - March 9
- Montana - March 12
- Maine - March 15
- Iowa - March 16
- Nevada - March 16
- Utah - March 16
- New Mexico - March 20
- Missouri - March 27
- South Dakota - March 27
- South Carolina - March 30
States with upcoming deadlines:
- April 2: Colorado
- April 5: Tennessee
- April 13: North Dakota, Oklahoma
- May 7: Florida
- May 15: Michigan House of Representatives
- May 18: Washington
- May 25: Georgia
- May 30: Arizona
- See also: 2012 election dates
There are no state legislative primaries this week.
So far, primaries have taken place in two states:
Thus far, a total of five state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.
States with upcoming primaries:
- April 24: Pennsylvania
- May 8: Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia
- May 15: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon
- May 22: Arkansas, Kentucky
- May 29: Texas
- June 5: California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota
- Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.
- Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.
2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns are continuing on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) are aiming for the August 2012 ballot.
Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard. Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess signed an agreement scheduling primaries for May 8 with general elections on June 5. If there is no primary the general election takes place on May 8.
Last Friday state Republican Party officials announced plans to run Democratic candidates in all four recall primaries. According to GOP Executive Director Stephan Thompson, the move was done to ensure primaries in all races, which then guarantees all recalls will take place on the same day. Candidates need to submit 400 valid signatures by April 10 in order to be on the ballot.
Because Wisconsin has an open primary system, voters do not have to be registered to a specific party in order to cast a vote in the primary. Therefore, Republican-leaning voters can cross over to the Democratic primary and vice-versa. Republicans used the same maneuver last year during the recall elections of six GOP state senators. The "fake" or "protest" candidates were all defeated in the primary, receiving between 29 and 44 percent of the vote.
Prior to the GOP's announcement, no known fake candidates had declared their intentions to run, however, questions have been raised about 28-year-old Andrew Mielke, who is running as a Democrat against Sen. Van Wanggaard. Former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman had already announced his intentions, setting up a primary between the two men. While Mielke has said he is not affiliated with the Republican Party, Democratic Party officials said he wasn't a registered member of their party and didn't sign the recall petitions against Wanggaard or Gov. Scott Walker.
Matchups in the other races currently stand as follows:
- Sen. Scott Fitzgerald is being challenged by Democrat Lori Compas, an organizer of the recall. Republican Gary Ellerman said he will be entering the race as a fake Democrat but will not actively campaign.
- Sen. Terry Moulton is being challenged by former Democratic state legislator Kristen Dexter.
- Sen. Pam Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. It is currently a fight between state Reps. Jerry Petrowski (R) and Donna Seidel (D).
There are two special elections scheduled to take place this week in Oklahoma.
Daniel Sullivan (R) resigned effective November 30, 2011 in order to take a position as CEO of the Grand River Dam Authority. A special election has been scheduled for April 3, 2012 to select a replacement. A primary took place on February 14. The race is in the state's new legislative districts.
General election candidates:
- Magnus Scott Sr.
- Phil Berkenbile 1,285
- Wayne Murphey 1,824
- Ann Griffin 2,211 
- Chris Humphreys 208
General election candidates:
Upcoming special elections include:
- April 3: Oklahoma House of Representatives District 71
- April 3: Oklahoma Senate District 20
- April 10: Minnesota Senate District 20
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 22
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 134
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 153
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 169
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 186
- April 24: Pennsylvania House District 197
- State legislative elections, 2012
- 2012 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2012
- State legislative recalls
- The Ledger, "Florida Supreme Court Ruling: Sunshine in Lakeland District," March 10, 2012
- The Miami Herald, "Legislature ends redistricting session, new Senate map approved," March 27, 2012
- The Roanoke Times, "Budget requires special session," March 11, 2012
- Washington Post, "Budget talks resume in special session with little expected as legislature’s popularity slides," March 21, 2012
- Washington Post, "Virginia Senate approves state spending plan," March 26, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Wash. Legislature adjourns; special session called," March 9, 2012
- Komo News, "Special session: Gov threatens vetoes over budget stalemate," March 17, 2012
- The Spokesman Review, "Special Session Day 18: Bill signings yes; budget deal, maybe," March 29, 2012
- The News Tribune, "Another special session?" March 29, 2012
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed April 2, 2012
- FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
- Channel 3000, "GOP Plans To Run Democratic Candidates In 4 Recall Races," March 30, 2012
- The Journal Times, "Newcomer running against Wanggaard as Democrat, but not registered with Dem Party," March 22, 2012
- Daily Union, "Ellerman running as a protest candidate," April 2, 2012
- NewsOK.com, "Redistricting raises question in special elections for Oklahoma legislative seats," November 15, 2011
- Oklahoma State Election Board, "Special Election for State Representative, District 71," February 14, 2012
- 23rd and Lincoln, "Special election to choose Myers successor set for April 3," November 18th, 2011
- Oklahoma State Election Board, "Special Election for State Senator, District 20," February 14, 2012
- KSWO, "Griffin wins GOP primary for Okla. Senate seat," February 14, 2012