Public of­fi­cials, civic lead­ers blast Walker, GOP on spe­cial elec­tion stall

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion -

Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker on March 29 re­luc­tantly is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive order sched­ul­ing spe­cial elec­tions to fill two va­cant leg­isla­tive seats, as Se­nate Repub­li­cans aban­doned their ef­forts to block the con­tests amid Demo­cratic crit­i­cism that the GOP was afraid of los­ing more seats.

The seats — one in the state Se­nate and one in the Assem­bly — have been va­cant since De­cem­ber 2017, when Walker ap­pointed the Repub­li­can in­cum­bents to his ad­min­is­tra­tion. State law re­quires the gover­nor to call spe­cial elec­tions to fill leg­isla­tive va­can­cies that oc­cur prior to May in reg­u­lar elec­tion years such as this one, but Walker had re­fused to do so, prompt­ing a law­suit that se­cured court or­ders for the elec­tions. Fol­low­ing are re­sponses to Repub­li­cans’ at­tempts to avoid the elec­torate as long as pos­si­ble.

RE­SPONSES TO THE ELEC­TION DE­LAYS:

“Con­grat­u­la­tions, Wis­con­sin ci­ti­zens who trea­sure more democ­racy, not less — and who value the rule of law and an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, not de­fi­ance of them.

On March 29, Gov. Scott Walker and State Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Scott Fitzger­ald, R-Juneau, re­al­ized they lacked al­most any support for their de­fi­ance of the law stip­u­lat­ing that spe­cial elec­tions needed to be called as soon as pos­si­ble fol­low­ing the De­cem­ber res­ig­na­tion of two Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors — not from Wis­con­sin ci­ti­zens, nor from enough of their own party’s state leg­is­la­tors. They also faced adamant op­po­si­tion from in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial judges.

Fear­ing the loss of one or both of these seats in a spe­cial elec­tion, Walker and Fitzger­ald teamed up to try to deny elected rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the ci­ti­zens of the 1st Se­nate District and the 42nd Assem­bly District for more than a year. Their ra­tio­nale for do­ing so was not cred­i­ble.

And you, the ci­ti­zens of this state, were not hav­ing any of it.

Af­ter the Dane County Cir­cuit Court and State Court of Ap­peals re­jected Walker’s case to post­pone the elec­tions to fill these two va­can­cies un­til Novem­ber — in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms — Walker wisely threw in the towel and did what the court or­dered him to do: Call for a spe­cial elec­tion in the two va­cated leg­isla­tive dis­tricts for June 12, fol­low­ing May pri­maries.

Fitzger­ald had sched­uled an “Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ses­sion” of the Leg­is­la­ture for April 4 to ram through a hy­per-par­ti­san re­write of the spe­cial elec­tion law, cost­ing tax­pay­ers thou­sands of dol­lars to un­der­write leg­isla­tive ac­tion that would con­tinue to deny elected rep­re­sen­ta­tion to about 228,000 Wis­con­sin ci­ti­zens. He can­celed the ses­sion when Repub­li­can se­na­tors, hear­ing from hun­dreds of their con­stituents op­pos­ing the mea­sure, be­gan to waver in their support for it.

Thank you for mak­ing your voices heard. They heard you and fear your in­creas­ing power and strength.

Cel­e­brate this vic­tory and cap off this win for democ­racy and the rule of law by ex­er­cis­ing your most pow­er­ful and pre­cious in­stru­ment to weigh in on the di­rec­tion our democ­racy takes — your vote.

Re­mem­ber, your voice and your vote both make a big dif­fer­ence. Never give up. On Wis­con­sin!”

— Jay Heck, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Common Cause Wis­con­sin

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