MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Four Republican Wisconsin state senators targeted by recall efforts will fail to successfully challenge enough petition signatures to stave off elections, a Democrat organizing efforts to replace them predicted Friday.
A cursory review of the signature challenges the four lawmakers submitted to the Government Accountability Board on Thursday shows that they haven’t met the threshold to prevent the elections, said Zac Kramer, who heads the group tasked with electing Democrats to the state Senate.
Petition circulators have until Tuesday to make their own counter-arguments. The board has until March 19 to determine if enough signatures were collected to trigger elections seeking the recall of Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau; Pam Galloway, of Wausau; Terry Moulton, of Chippewa Falls; and Van Wanggaard, of Racine.
All four asserted that new legislative boundaries should have been in effect for the petition circulation period and any elections. The GAB has said those boundaries don’t take effect until the fall elections. The issue is also part of three ongoing lawsuits.
All four senators are challenging more than enough signatures under that argument to stop the elections. However, if the senators lose on that argument, and the old boundaries are in effect, only Fitzgerald challenges enough to stop an election. It’s not clear if Moulton contests enough since the GAB has only posted estimates of how many signatures were submitted.
The challenges for Wanggaard and Galloway would fall short by more than a thousand signatures each.
Kramer said the challenges Fitzgerald was making were frivolous and wouldn’t stand. He said Fitzgerald inflated his challenge total by wrongly alleging some petitions were missing required data that they weren’t, double counting some of his challenges and making data entry errors.
Petitions were also submitted last month to force recall elections for Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Walker’s deadline for challenging signatures is Feb. 27 and Kleefisch’s is March 5.
The recall drives, which have been spearheaded by the Democratic Party, organized labor and concerned citizens, were largely motivated by anger over the Walker-proposed law the Republican-led Legislature pushed through last year that stripped most public workers of collective bargaining rights.
Walker and Republicans argued the changes, which also increase in the amount public workers had to pay for health insurance and pension contributions, were necessary to deal with a $3.6 billion budget. But opponents said the law was intended to cripple the unions, which overwhelmingly back the Democrats.
Republicans hold a 17-16 majority in the Senate, meaning Democrats would only need to pick up one seat to take over. However, the Legislature will be done meeting for the year by the time of any recall and the fall elections will determine makeup of the Senate starting in 2013.
State Rep. Donna Seidel of Wausau said she would take on Galloway. Former state Rep. Kristin Dexter of Eau Claire will challenge Moulton and former Sen. John Lehman of Racine will run against Wanggaard.
Lori Compas, the woman who organized the recall drive against Fitzgerald, has said she is considering challenging him.
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