Deadline Nears For Elections Scott Walker Doesn't Want To Hold

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Gov. Scott Walker has ordered special elections for two state legislative districts that have been vacant since late December.

When media outlets, public-interest groups and Democrats in the legislature objected to Walker's plan to leave nearly 250,000 Wisconsinites unrepresented for the better part of a year - and suggested, quite appropriately, that he was blocking elections in which his Republican allies might face defeat - the governor dismissed the complaints. Those changes would eliminate the need for special elections in one state Senate and one state Assembly seat that had been ordered last week by Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds. The Republican leaders of the state legislature also dropped plans to convene a special session to change Wisconsin law and cancel the elections.

In response, the GOP-controlled legislature said they would call an extraordinary session, with the aim of changing Wisconsin law determining when special elections are held, so that the races would not go forward. Walker reluctantly issued an executive order on Thursday scheduling special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats, as Senate Republicans abandoned their attempts to block the contests and amid Democratic criticism that the GOP is afraid of losing more seats. "Walker and Republicans in the legislature should stop trying to find new ways to keep the people they're supposed to represent from voting and finally hold the special elections". But, this week, despite every effort by Scott Walker to avert the expression of the will of the people, democracy prevailed. Walker argues that would make the lawsuit moot and negate the need for calling special elections. 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.

The bill received a hearing Wednesday, but Fitzgerald said Thursday morning it would not pass.

Walker's order means that candidates for the 1st Senate and 42nd Assembly districts can begin circulating nomination papers today.

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Fitzgerald testified Wednesday that anywhere from 85 to 150 overseas voters, including some in the military, could be disenfranchised if the special elections proceed under the timeline set up in current state law. "Walker's refusal to do his job", Holder said in a statement after the appeals court ruling on Wednesday. If adopted, the proposal would ensure that the two vacant seats wouldn't be filled until January.

Critics say voters in areas with no lawmaker for months don't have anyone representing them in the legislature.

Assistant Attorney General Steven Kilpatrick wrote in DOJ's motion that voter confusion would occur and time and money would be wasted if Niess does not extend the deadline for Walker to call special elections. But the governor took Holder to task in a series of tweets, accusing him of forcing Wisconsin to spend tax dollars on duplicative elections.

DOJ had filed Walker's appeal in District 2, which covers the conservative Milwaukee suburbs and the Fox Valley, rather than District 4, which covers liberal Dane County. Frank Lasee of De Pere and Republican state Rep. Keith Ripp of Lodi. Rather, he said, the governor wants to be allowed to delay carrying out "his mandatory, compulsory duty because there are now other reasons that he has brought to the court's attention".

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. 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.

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