Judge denies request to delay call for special election

Hugh Fox
April 1, 2018

But Walker has been reluctant to call the special elections after Democrats won another vacant seat in a heavily Republican district earlier this year.

Wisconsin Republicans have ended their legal fight to wait until November to conduct elections for two vacant legislative seats.

When a Dane County Circuit Court judge who was appointed by Walker ordered the governor to call the elections, Walker rejected the verdict and had his lawyers seek a delay in the judgement so that the governor's legislative henchmen could radically rewrite the state election law so that vacancies could go unfilled.

Walker and other GOP leaders initially challenged the ruling, calling for an extraordinary legislative session to change state law regarding special elections and appealing the decision to a higher court, which also ruled against the governor.

Defeated at every turn in his attempt to dismantle democracy in Wisconsin, Walker finally surrendered.

Meanwhile, the State Senate held a public hearing Wednesday afternoon on a bill that would remove the Governor's requirement to call a special election.

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But on Wednesday, the appeals court refused to give Republicans more time to cancel the elections.

Walker has refused to order special elections to fill Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen. And for a hammer-headed pol like Walker in a hyper-polarized state like Wisconsin, leaving a couple of hundred thousand people without representation for a year was small potatoes compared to the awful possibility of his enemies being emboldened in the run-up to the governor's own reelection bid in November.

Critics say voters in areas with no lawmaker for months don't have anyone representing them in the legislature.

Both seats were held by Republicans who resigned December 29 to join Walker's administration.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess ruled against the Governor.

The state Justice Department is asking the judge to extend the time for Walker to call the special elections from Thursday to April 6, giving the Legislature time to act to make the lawsuit moot.

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Currently, the law says the Governor must fill any vacancies that occur before the second Tuesday in May.

Republican legislative leaders responded by announcing Friday that they would reconvene the Senate and Assembly to pass a bill that would change special election laws. If Walker were to call for special elections on Thursday, Kilpatrick wrote, candidates in the two open seats would immediately begin requesting nomination papers from the state Elections Commission and circulating them.

Fitzgerald told WTMJ-AM minutes after Walker scheduled the elections that he was dropping efforts to move the bill forward because of the judge's order.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, applauded Niess' decision.

Responding to news special elections will be held, former USA attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr., chairman of the NDRC, said, "This is a victory for the citizens of Wisconsin who are without representation because of Gov".

Kathleen Finnerty, chairwoman of the Door County Democratic Party, said it was "transparent" that Republicans in control of state government were afraid of a Democrat being elected in her district.

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