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Senate recall battle might dampen 'bipartisan' spirit

By   /   June 11, 2012  /   7 Comments

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.

Election night totals showed former Democratic state Sen. John Lehman of Racine leading incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, by 779 votes. Wanggaard, though, has not conceded.

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.”

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Rep. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, already have begged off.

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.”


  • Tpartywarrior

    Gov. Scott Walker is extending his hand in friendship to Democrats. We’ll see if he pulls back a bloody stump.

  • James M Murphy

    This is a Total Waste of Time, After the Election I was still getting flipped off by drivers with Progressive bumper stickers on their car when they saw my Vote Walker Sticker. I went to the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally and when I got back my Car was Keyed from front to back both panels and both doors. I had removed my Walker Stickers but still had a TEA Party Bumber Sticker. No These People are NOT reasonable by a long shot they will never be reasonable and like a petulant child they need to be disiciplined. We are fighting a Spiritual War here. This is not just differences between Republican and Democrat. This is a Fight between Our Christian Way of Life and a bunch of Godless Socialists. If we do NOT recognize this then we loose! Perhaps Forever!

  • Willie Lake

    Democrats complain about ‘divide and conquer.’ They fail to acknowledge that Gov. Walker gave individual union members a choice, a vote if you will. Union members willingly chose to depart from their FORCED membership. That’s not exactly divide and conquer.

  • bea

    It is an unfortunate situation again… as much as Gov. Walker desires to bring in “forgiveness” (on both sides) to this whole nightmare of recalls season, the more radical dem leadership want to continue a “fight of bitterness” . These so called “leaders of democracy” have soundly been told to “STOP ALREADY !!” by the citizens of Wisconsin again!!

    I guess the next step will occur in Nov. when the people put more “reasonable” leaders into their offices. Two slaps on the hands (original election and now the recall election for Gov. Walker) wasn’t enough… now I guess a paddle to their backsides are needed to stem their unreasonable anger…so reasonable citizens of Wis. let’s give “them” something to really cry about !!

  • Jim

    What many people don’t seem to understand is that liberals don’t believe in bipartisanship. It’s a word they use when they have the political minority. But once they have the majority, look out! It’s their way or the highway. The moral of the story is never ever elect a liberal into office for any reason.

    On that note, I’m a little fed up with both sides. I’m the guy that filed the amicus curae brief defending Walker’s position in that federal lawsuit filed against him by the unions. It must have been a good brief. There were lawyers who flew into Wisconsin all the way from Washington DC just to meet with me about it. It also cost me my job. I’ve been blackballed. Can’t get hired anywhere and have been unemployed for almost a year. I’ve e-mailed the Walker Administration for help. They’ve ignored me.

    Freedom isn’t free. It’s cost me dearly.

    Say a prayer for me folks. We’re trying to save a car from being repo’ed.


  • Marine7076

    Pretty sad when these liberal political hack Democrats are never satisfied. They continue to spend our money on these worthless recalls and such, but can’t seem to get down to business on the real issues, like JOBS. What part about the PEOPLE have SPOKEN, once again, don’t they get? Shows their complete and utter disdain for the VOTER and our TAX dollars. They all need to go, especially Mark Miller and the rest of his band of COWARDS, who flee out of state and shurk their responibilities to the REAL PEOPLE of this Great State.

  • Fran

    And all you Walker fans on here whine about dems being anti bipartisanship???? What hateful crap on here all the time – it’s time you each take a collective look in the mirror.