Wisconsin recall: Challenges filed against four of the six candidates in Democratic recalls

Jun 24 2011

By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: Challenges were filed today against 4 Republican candidates who declared an intent to run in the three recalls targeting incumbent Democrats.[1]

The four candidates whose nominating petitions were challenged are:

District 12

District 30

The candidates now have until 8 a.m. Monday morning to respond to the challenges. A special GAB meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Monday to consider the challenges.

Creating the possibility that one or more candidates will be removed via challenge adds another wrinkle to the recall election timeline. If for example, one candidate is rejected in District 12 but one candidate is approved, then there will no longer be a primary in that race. Instead, the actual recall would occur on July 19. Additionally, if both candidates are declared ineligible in a district, then the incumbent’s name would still appear on the recall ballot on July 19. Candidates could still run as a write-in — however, the ballot itself would only list the incumbent (with a space for write-in).

The meeting on Monday will be the first with newly-appointed GAB member Timothy Vocke.

The 4:30 CST deadline today was also the deadline for candidates to submit financial-disclosure information, which all candidates did.[2]

In District 22, both candidates have been approved and no challenges filed. The primary on July 19 will be between the following candidates, who will compete to face Robert Wirch on August 16.

District 22

Republican Party July 19 Republican primary:

In 17 days, the first primaries will take place in the six districts where Republican incumbents are facing recall. Democratic primaries will take place in each district on July 12.

Republicans redraw maps

It was reported on June 23 that legislative leaders have redrawn state Senate and Assembly maps, but are keeping them mostly secret, even from their own party members. Speaker of the Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald said he is sharing the maps with fellow Republicans in his chamber and deciding whether to pass them in July, prior to the recall elections, which could potentially flip the Senate to the Democrats.

Republican state Senators Luther Olsen and Robert Cowles, both of whom are the facing recall elections August 9, as well as President of the Senate Michael Ellis, said they have not yet seen maps of their own districts. While the legislature is not currently scheduled to be on the floor during July, a special or extraordinary session could be held to pass the maps. Ellis said the decision is up to Fitzgerald, but that he expects the senate to pass the maps before the recalls.[3]


With less than three weeks until the first primaries, political organizations from both sides have started running television ads. And both sides appear to be poised to spend big money on ads.

Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Club for Growth aired an ad in the Minneapolis market, targeting Harsdorf’s likely opponent Shelly Moore.  A blog post in the Daily Kos criticized the ad for running in Minnesota — being that citizens in Minnesota cannot vote in the recall.[4]

Meanwhile, yesterday, We Are Wisconsin announced its first ad of the campaigns, a spot targeting incumbent Sheila Harsdorf (R) and supporting Shelly Moore (D).  In a press release, We Are Wisconsin stated the ad outlines “the stark contrast in SD 10 between teacher and activist Shelly Moore and entrenched politician Sheila Harsdorf.”[5] Focusing on Harsdorf’s record on education, it is running in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market.[6]

The Harsdorf recall may end up with some of the highest spending on advertisements, given it’s location near a large metropolitan city and the early flood of money and attention given to that race.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth has also run ads targeting Democratic recall candidates Fred Clark and Jennifer Shilling. State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate called the ads a deliberate distortion and has called on Club for Growth to pull the ads against Shilling and Clark. Tate stated, “This false attack exposes how concerned Republicans are about losing the majority in the senate. I can only imagine how desperate they’re going to be in the weeks to come.”[7]

The ad targeting Assemblywoman Shilling accuses her of cutting money for education and SeniorCare, while supporting pork spending, based on votes cast for the budget during the 2009 session. The ad targeting Clark is of similar nature. One of Shilling’s main criticisms of her opponent, Dan Kapake, is that he supported a GOP budget which cut education and social services. To that end, she called the ad “the height of hypocrisy,” and objected to the references to SeniorCare, saying “It was fully funded. No seniors saw benefits reduced.”[7]

See also

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results