Published: Sun, April 01, 2018
Money | By Michele Stevens

Judge rejects Walker's bid to delay special election

Judge rejects Walker's bid to delay special election

Walker on March 28 reversed course and said he would not ask the Wisconsin Supreme Court to delay a court order that he call special elections to fill the legislative vacancies.

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. Walker's decision leaves voters in Senate District 1 and Assembly District 42 without representation for more than a year.

In his one-page ruling.

On Wednesday, Appeals Court Judge Paul Reilly absolutely and unequivocally rejected the claim by the governor's legal team that the special elections were an unnecessary waste of taxpayer resources.

Both the Dane County judge and an appeals court judge shut down the former argument, ordering Walker to comply by today's deadline. But after failing to get an extension of state circuit court judge Josann Reynolds' order for long enough to get the legislature back to Madison, Walker chose not to risk a contempt charge.

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But after a third ruling, the governor relented, issuing an executive order for the special elections to be held on June 12 to fill the vacancies in the 1st Senate and 42nd Assembly districts, who have been unrepresented since late previous year. Republicans responded with a bill that prohibits special elections from being held after the spring election in a year with fall legislative elections.

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. Spokesman Reid Magney said the commission stopped tracking costs a year ago after commissioners discontinued the practice because state law doesn't require it to do so. The Senate seat covers the Door County peninsula northeast of Green Bay and the Assembly seat is in a mostly rural area north of Madison.

Walker and the Legislature are moving quickly to change the law to disallow the governor from calling any special elections after the April 3 primary, thereby circumventing the judge's original order.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker says Wisconsin law doesn't require him to hold special elections for two legislative seats, which some say his party could have trouble keeping. Though now, Vos says the legislature will change the law in order to overrule the court.

The absentee voting bill, which had been requested by the state Elections Commission and was passed by the Assembly, is being amended to include the changes to the state's special election law to address Reynolds' ruling.

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It's unclear what steps the Senate will take now that Walker has said he will call the special elections.

Rep. Keith Ripp and Sen.

Fitzgerald argued that there would be potential confusion because the special election would overlap with the start of the fall election cycle with nomination papers circulating at the same time.

"Keeping this seat empty is the status quo desired from a select few in positions of power who fear what the outcome of a special election would bring", Zimdars said. And earlier this month, Democrat Conor Lamb, captured what been a reliably Republican congressional seat in Pennsylvania.

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