Wisconsin governor calls special elections as GOP drops bill to block them

Wisconsin governor calls special elections as GOP drops bill to block them

Wisconsin governor calls special elections as GOP drops bill to block them

Scott Walker on March 29 issued Executive Order #280, calling for special elections for 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District. The two lawmakers quit in December to join Walker's administration, saying the elections would confuse voters and unnecessarily waste tax dollars, especially when regular elections are already scheduled to take place in the fall.

The bill Walker and Republicans are rushing through the Legislature would remove the requirement in current law that the governor promptly call special elections when vacancies occur in the Legislature.

Both Legislators retired in December of last year, almost a year before the next election. Under that law, any action in which the sole defendant is the state of Wisconsin or certain state officers must be filed in an appeals court district other than the one that made the initial decision in the case. He says voters need predictable election dates. That would give the Legislature time to pass the bill as planned on April 4. "The Legislature has indicated they are done". A spokesman for the department did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Critics of the Governor say that voting rights and government representation are at the center of the issue.

"There is nothing more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote", said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

Reilly dismissed Walker's argument that the court should allow time for the Legislature to rewrite state law that would effectively block the special elections.

Wisconsin Democrats said Walker had refused to hold the elections because he was afraid Democrats might flip the seats.

The judge criticized Governor Walker. "I am enforcing the law as it is now".

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The move has drawn criticism with some Democrats calling it "legislative gymnastics" as well as 'crooked as a bag of snakes'. Walker on Wednesday asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals to review that decision and delay the order to April 6.

Reynolds was not available Tuesday, so Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in 2004, was holding the hearing.

Reynolds was a Walker appointee and was the first judge to reject the Governor's plan.

"The Governor understands he has an obligation to follow the law as do we", wrote District 2 Court of Appeals Judge Paul F. Reilly.

When media outlets, public-interest groups and Democrats in the legislature objected to Walker's plan to leave nearly 250,000 Wisconsinites unrepresented for the better part of a year - and suggested, quite appropriately, that he was blocking elections in which his Republican allies might face defeat - the governor dismissed the complaints.

The seats were vacated in December when two members chose to join his administration. He says he doesn't see a special election as necessary and says he hasn't heard any complaints from constituents.

"Keep the elections on the same time, and remember that your military are protecting us at all times and they should have a little extra edge perhaps to get their ballots in on time", Richardson said.

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