'Protest' Candidates to Remain on Recall Ballots
The Government Accountability Board rejected a challenge filed last week by the attorney for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
All candidates, including those dubbed “fake” or "protest” candidates, will be allowed a spot on the recall election ballots next month.
The Government Accountability Board determined Tuesday that six Republicans running as Democrats in an effort to set up elections on the same day throughout the state, are eligible for the ballot, unanimously rejecting a challenge filed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
The Board rejected the challenge 6-0, leaving in place a list of candidates who will appear on the May 8 primary ballots.
In a statement on the Republican Party of Wisconsin's website, Communications Director Ben Sparks said:
"We're pleased with today's certification that all protest candidates will appear on the May 8 primary ballot. These candidates are running to ensure election fairness, and today’s ruling guarantees that there is one primary and one general election date for all candidates facing a recall."
Meanwhile, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said in a statement on that party’s website that the decision marks "one more ethical low" for Gov. Scott Walker.
"Scott Walker has no regard for ethics, just as it is becoming clearer that he has no regard for the people of Wisconsin,” the statement said. “Today represents another stain on Wisconsin's history and traditions of fair play. Wisconsin is a ship without a moral rudder.”
Jeremy Levinson, attorney for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, on Thursday filed a formal complaint with the GAB over the state GOP running “protest” candidates in the upcoming recall elections.
Levinson wanted all six protest candidates – four in the state Senate recalls as well as one each in the governor and lieutenant governor races – removed from the ballot for running as Democrats when they really aren’t.
The “protest” candidates include:
- Gladys Huber (D) running in the Walker recall race;
- Isaac Weix running as a Democrat against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch;
- Tamra Varebrook challenging State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) as a Democrat;
- Gary Ellerman (D) challenging Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau);
- James Engel (D) running against Republican Terry Moulton in Senate District 23;
- and Jim Buckley (D) challenging Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau).
Ben Sparks, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin called the complaint “nothing more than a publicity stunt” in a statement, and pointed to the GAB’s decision to certify the placement of all protest candidates on last year’s recall election ballots.
In a memo to the GAB presented prior to today’s meeting, Michael Haas wrote that “staff recommends that the Board deny the challenges to the protest candidates because no statute prohibits an individual from submitting nomination papers and related documents without the support of the political party whose nomination is sought, or conducting a campaign for office for any political or strategic reason.”
Earlier this month state Republicans announced they were running “protest candidates” in all six recalls targeting Republicans. Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Stephan Thompson said in a press release on the state’s party’s website the reason for doing so was to align elections on the same day across the state. The GAB set the primaries for May 8 and the general election for June 5. But in any races in which there had been no primaries, May 8 would have been the general election date.
The protest candidates triggered the decision of 23-year-old political activist Arthur Kohl-Riggs to run as a “progressive Republican.” He told Caledonia Patch he is running against Walker to force Republicans to vote for Walker in the primary instead of meddling in the Democratic primary.
If Walker ran uncontested, Republicans could vote in the Democratic primary and cast a ballot for the Democrat they think would be Walker's weakest opponent in the June general election. Having a challenger in the GOP primary provides incentive to the Republicans to vote for Walker in the primary.