Legislatively speaking, summer is usually a quiet time with the legislature in recess and elected officials back home in their districts visiting with constituents at picnics and parades. This summer, however, is not typical and the legislature has been consumed by historic recall elections.
Nine state senators are up for recall, with the first round of primaries tomorrow. Six Democrats will face “fake” or “protest” candidates — Republicans running as Democrats in order to force a primary, giving the incumbent Republican senators more time to campaign. The winners of the primaries will face the following Republican incumbents on August 9:
- Rob Cowles, Green Bay
- Alberta Darling, River Hills
- Sheila Harsdorf, River Falls
- Randy Hopper, Fond du Lac
- Dan Kapanke, La Crosse
- Luther Olsen, Ripon
Three more elections are scheduled for July 19 — two Republican primaries and a general election. Again, Republicans are running protest candidates to delay the general election. This time, however, the protest candidates are running in the Republican primary.
Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), the preferred candidate to challenge Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) collected too few signatures to be put on the ballot, leaving Hansen to face Republican challenger David VanderLeest in a special election. Democratic Senators Jim Holperin of Conover and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie will face their Republican challengers on August 16.
Republicans currently control the Senate by a margin of 19-14. If at least three Democratic challengers defeat Republican incumbents and the incumbent Democrats hold their seats, Democrats will take control of the Senate. A split legislature could greatly curtail the legislative agenda of Governor Scott Walker, who could face his own recall effort in January.
The WisPolitics Election Blog is a good resource for the most current recall information.