Walker relents, follows judges' orders to hold special elections

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Scott Walker on March 29 issued Executive Order #280, calling for special elections for 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District.

This morning, after a third judge repudiated Governor Walker's effort to ignore his legal obligation to call special elections in vacant districts, Republicans officially dropped plans for an extraordinary session to keep 200,000 Wisconsin taxpayers without representation.

Even if Republicans were to lose these seats - which is hardly a given - they would still hold an 18-15 majority in the Wisconsin Senate and a 63-36 majority in the Wisconsin Assembly.

Wisconsin law requires governors to call special elections for any vacancies that occur before the second Tuesday in May in an election year.

The state Department of Justice on Wednesday asked the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Waukesha to give Walker until April 6 to call the elections.

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

The biggest losers in this obvious exercise of partisan political muscle are the citizens of Wisconsin's 1st state Senate and 42nd state Assembly districts, who will have been robbed of elected representation in the Legislature for over a year and thus have had no voice as the Legislature considers and votes on critical legislation such as this proposed, ill-advised measure.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican, relied on a similar argument when he declined to call special elections last month. But if the Legislature changes the law, Assistant Attorney General Anthony Russomanno said Tuesday, Walker would be back in court to argue the earlier order can no longer be enforced.

Passing a bill to effectively cancel the elections would throw a "monkey wrench" into the process, Fitzgerald said, and would raise the prospect of having "another judge slapping us down".

3000. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
3000. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

Fitzgerald told the Senate elections committee during a hearing on Wednesday that forcing Walker to schedule special elections now would have candidates campaigning in both the special elections and the regular elections in November at essentially the same time, confusing voters and wasting tax dollars. Spokesman Reid Magney said the commission stopped tracking costs previous year after commissioners discontinued the practice because state law doesn't require it to do so.

Walker has refused to order special elections to fill Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen.

Democrats have contended that Walker delayed calling special elections for the two seats after a special election in January in which a Democrat won a Senate seat in a northwestern Wisconsin district that traditionally votes Republican.

The judge ruled that "representative government and the election of our representatives are never 'unnecessary, ' never a 'waste of taxpayer resources'".

State Sen. Jennifer Shilling, the chamber's Democratic leader, celebrated the call for elections. A Dane County judge last week ordered him to do so by noon today.

"The governor was boxed in", Fitzgerald said.

As introduced the bill strips away statutory language that requires the governor to call an election "as promptly as possible".

If Ripp and Lasee's open seats were filled in November, the winners wouldn't have been sworn in until January, leaving Ripp and Lasee's constituents unrepresented for more than a year. 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 bad possibility of his enemies being emboldened in the run-up to the governor's own reelection bid in November. Namely, the fear that the majority party may lose one or both of the two now vacant legislative seats - one in each chamber - because of the current state of the political "atmosphere" in Wisconsin and in much of the rest of the nation. "It's demoralizing and unethical on your part".

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