By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON – It’s always election season in Wisconsin, and this week was no different.
Republican candidates vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl debated Wednesday night in Waukesha, at the same time a debate among the Democraticcandidates vying to face Gov. Scott Walker in the upcoming recall election debated in Madison.
A number of candidates, real and “fake,” met the requirements for getting their names on recall ballots, sparking some controversy.
And members of the state Supreme Court added a few more lines this week to their ever-growing list of internal battles.
Talk and more talk in Waukesha, Madison
Wisconsin voters got a double dose of debates Wednesday.
Four candidates hoping to secure the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate — Rhinelander physical therapist Kip Smith, Madison businessman Eric Hovde, former Congressman Mark Neumann and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald — met Wednesday night in Waukesha for a debate co-sponsored by Wisconsin Reporter and the Republican Party of Waukesha County.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson did not attend. His campaign said Thompson had a previously scheduled fundraiser in Washington, DC.
The GOP candidates likely will face U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-2nd Congressional District, in the November election to replace Kohl. A primary to choose the Republican candidate will be held Aug. 14.
"This race is, toss a coin, it's as likely to be won at the moment, it appears by the Democrat or the Republican," Marquette University political scientist John McAdams said.
Candidates have until Sunday to submit their campaign finance reports for the first quarter of 2012.
Baldwin’s campaign said she collected $2 million so far this year and has nearly $2.8 million on hand.
Neumann’s camp said he raised $650,000 during the first three months of 2012 and has raised $1.47 million to date.
The Dane County Democratic Party, meanwhile, held a debate for the four Democrats who hope to represent the party in its attempt to oust Walker on June 5 — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Secretary of State Doug La Follette and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma.
Recall candidates make it official
Tuesday was the deadline to submit the signatures necessary to get on the ballot for those who want to run in the upcoming recall elections involving Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four state senators.
Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor needed to collect at least 2,000 signatures. Candidates for state Senate needed to collect at least 400.
All of the expected candidates, including the Democrats seeking to oust Walker, appear to have filed enough signatures, according to information from the Government Accountability Board, which oversees the state’s elections.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint on Thursday against the Republican Party of Wisconsin and six recall candidates — dubbed “fake Democrats” or “protest candidates” — the RPW is supporting in order to ensure that Democratic primaries have to be held.
The candidates are Gary Ellerman, James Engel, James Buckley, Gladys Huber, Isaac Weix and Tamra Varebrook.
The complaint alleges that, “"The respondents falsified information on these documents (submitted to election officials), asserting that the six phony primary candidates were 'affiliated' with and 'represent' the Democratic Party.”
Speaking to the Wisconsin State Journal, RPW communications director Ben Sparks called the complaint “a publicity stunt.”
It’s unclear whether a complaint will be filed regarding the candidacy of Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who protested at the capitol last year but is running as a Republican in the gubernatorial recall.
The GAB plans to meet Tuesday to discuss challenges to recall candidacies and to certify who will appear on the ballots.
Prosser requests Bradley, Abrahamson recusal
The case stems from a June altercation between Prosser and Bradley in which he admitted to putting his hands around her neck but said it was a reflex as she was coming toward him.
Six of the seven justices were present during the June incident.
Prosser, in his petition, said justices are barred from overseeing cases in which they are witnesses, participants or have an interest in the outcome.
Bradley responded in a statement that Prosser's petition is "rife with inaccurate statements and unfounded attacks."
But, she added that in her career, “I have watched with great concern the erosion of public trust and confidence that results when judges decline to step down from cases in which they have an interest.”