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