By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — The polls have been closed for a week, but the recalls aren’t done quite yet.
What happens this week will determine how long the battle will continue and, most likely, will show just how successful the call for a spirit of bipartisanship will be.
“I don’t think anyone knows how the next few months are going to play out,” Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, said Monday.
Votes in the Senate District 21 race will be canvassed Tuesday, with absentee ballots and provisional ballots added to the unofficial results announced last week.
Once the votes are canvassed, either candidate has three days to request a recount.
Neither Wanggaard nor Lehman returned calls from Wisconsin Reporter seeking comment Monday.
Marquette University political scientist John McAdams declined to speculate on whether there would be a recount.
“It has its risks,” he said. “If you ask for a recount and still lose, you come across as a sore loser. If there is any evidence of really substantial miscounting …, then a recount might put you over the top.”
Though there have been rumors about voter irregularities or even fraud, McAdams said, “I haven’t seen any serious claims, any claims at the moment that I’ve seen that cross the threshold of credibility.”
Mike Haas, staff counsel for the Government Accountability Board, said the GAB took more than 1,000 calls from people with recall-related complaints, although he didn’t know if those calls all came in on election day.
“If it happens to (involve) someone being able to vote, we try to handle those immediately because obviously those are time sensitive,” Haas said.
But Haas said he “wasn’t aware of” any ongoing investigations stemming from election day complaints.
If one of the recall candidates requests a recount, or if lawsuits are filed alleging voter misconduct or fraud, it could significantly dampen efforts to increase bipartisanship in the state Legislature.
And early signs indicate, already, that post-recall bipartisanship may be easy to tout and hard to accomplish.
Gov. Scott Walker is holding a beer-and-brats summit Tuesday at the Governor’s Mansion for all legislators and their spouses.
Jauch said he intends to go in an effort to reach out to fellow lawmakers.
“If we can’t go to a reception and talk to each other, we’ll never deal with the real issues,” he said. “But I don’t go with any illusions. If it was as simple as brats and beers, I would have brought kegs and a bunch of sausage a year ago.”
Pocan said Walker’s show of bipartisanship belies the governor’s history of being divisive and said that Walker needs to apologize, first, for saying he would “divide and conquer” public unions.
Nass said Democratic Party leadership’s comments during the past several days have not been any less threatening or offensive than they were in the past.
There are rumors that, in the spirit of bipartisanship, the Legislature could return to session sometime before the November elections — perhaps to pass recall-related bills or, as Jauch suggested, job-creation legislation.
Otherwise, the Legislature isn’t scheduled to return to session until after November, when half the Senate and all of the state Assembly are up for re-election.
Even if Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Assembly could agree to return to session, it’s unclear what they could accomplish.
If Lehman’s vote totals hold during the canvas, Democrats would hold the majority in the Senate with a single seat. The GOP still controls the Assembly, however, and there was little indication last spring that lawmakers in both parties were able or willing to find compromises on controversial legislation.
“I think that you have lots of scatter talk,” Jauch said. “I don’t think anyone knows how the next few months are going to play out.”
Walker’s office noted early Monday that the beer-and-brats summit will be a private affair, even if more than half the Legislature attends.
Wisconsin statute 19.82 defines open governmental meetings and says, “The term does not include any social or chance gathering or conference which is not intended to avoid this subchapter.”