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Key Question For Wisconsin Democrats: To Run “Fake” Candidates, Or Not?

Wisconsin Democrats now face a key decision in the state Senate recalls: AfterRepublicans have declared a strategy to plant fake candidates in the Democratic primaries — in order to delay the general elections from July to August, and make trouble in the Dem primaries while the GOP incumbents run unopposed — will they respond in kind and plant fake candidates on the Republican side?

Earlier on Friday, the labor-backed progressive group We Are Wisconsin called upon Dems to run some fake Republican candidates, arguing that this was necessary in order to stop the Republicans from sabotaging the Dem primaries. From their statement:

Another potential scenario created by the Republican chicanery in the primary that could severely disadvantage Democratic candidates is that Republican incumbents who do not face primary challengers advance automatically to the general election ballot. This creates a scenario where “legitimate” Democratic challengers are exposed to unlimited spending by outside groups and pro-Republican forces, which could cause the “legitimate” Democrats in the race to lose the sham primary. There would be no check on millions of dollars in shady outside money coming in to relentlessly attack “legitimate” Democrats, and full-scale mobilization of Republican resources to turn out their voters in the Democratic primary and to advocate a message such as “if you support Randy Hopper, vote for fake candidate X.”

Running fake Republicans, the argument goes, would force GOP voters to stick to their own primary and prevent a spoiler from winning on that side, thus defusing any such potential ploy.

TPM sought comment from the state Dems and was told a statement was forthcoming. So at time of writing, the gears appear to still be turning on this question at the Dem headquarters.

The filing deadline for those recalls is this Tuesday, July 13, at 5 p.m. CT. In order to qualify for the ballot, candidates must at that time also file at least 400 signatures collected from the district, with 800 signatures as the maximum allowed in order to have a buffer against disqualifications.

The key here is that recalls are now tentatively scheduled for July 12, under the state election officials’ proposed timelines, targeting six Republicans. If there were only one Democrat against each one Republican, then the July 12 date would be the general election. But if there were additional Democrats, the July 12 date would then become the primary, giving the incumbents more time to campaign for a general election in August.

Also, thanks to Wisconsin’s open primary system in which anybody can vote in a party primary, it would force the Democrats to spend time, money and resources campaigning for their own nominations.

 

By: Eric Kleefeld, Talking Points Memo, June 10, 2011

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , | 2 Comments

Democrats Must Fight Back Against Wisconsin GOP Shenanigans Or Risk Losing

A potential bombshell development out in Wisconsin.

As you know, Wisconsin Republicans have hatched a scheme to meddle in Dem primaries in order to delay the recall elecions against GOP state senators in a last ditch maneuver to save their hides.

Now a top labor group heavily involved in the recall wars is responding: It is publicly sounding the alarm about the GOP tactics, and arguing that Democrats must respond in kind or risk failing to take back the state senate.

We Are Wisconsin — which is one of the biggest labor-backed groups involved in the fight — has just issued a public statement stating that it would be in the interests of Democrats to respond to the GOP shenanigans by running their own candidates against Republicans in GOP primaries, just as Republicans are doing to Dems.

In a major development, the group argues that the strategic and on-the-ground implications of the GOP tactics are far more complex and serious a threat to Dem chances than has been publicly explained. They argue that if Republicans do this and Dems don’t, the GOP will be able to dictate the election calendar with a free hand, deciding which general recall elections happen on July 12th and which on August 9th — a huge strategic advantage for Republicans.

Without GOP primaries, the group argues, GOP state senators will automatically advance to the general recall elections, allowing Republican voters in their districts to vote for the fake, GOP-backed “Democratic” candidates in the Dem primaries, making it more likely that the real Dem loses the primary and doesn’t even advance to the recall election. (If there’s also a GOP primary, Republican voters won’t be able to vote in both primaries under Wisconsin law.) And without GOP primaries, all the unlimited outside national conservative money could be channeled into boosting the fake “Democrat” and annhilating the real Dem. The group concludes:

Given the situation Republicans have so despicably concocted to manipulate these recall elections, it is the opinion of We Are Wisconsin that it would be in the interest of Democrats to run candidates in the Republican primaries to ensure the dates of the general election are predictably on August 9th, and that Republicans are forced to win a primary election instead of diverting their unlimited resources to back their “fake” candidates against “legitimate” Democrats. To that end, it would be in the interest of flipping the Wisconsin Senate that interested Democrats contact the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

This opinion is not rendered lightly. This is the most cynical manipulation of the Wisconsin electoral process in our state’s history, and is being done by a Republican party that has demonstrated no respect for the rule of law and our state’s tradition of clean elections and good governance. Unfortunately, however, after evaluating the strategic implications of their despicable tactics, to simply stand idly by would amount to unilateral disarmament and would almost certainly thwart the will of the hundreds of thousands of voters who support recalling Republican Senators in the upcoming elections.

Democrats and liberals have repeatedly described the GOP tactic of meddling in Dem primaries as a dirty trick designed to rig the recalls, and conservatives are now likely to cry hypocrisy. But it’s clear that the situation created by the GOP maneuver is far more complex and potentially dire for Dems than previously understood, and without a Democratic response, Dems would in effect be consigning themselves to defeat by tying their own hands behind their backs while Republicans manipulate the law to their advantage.

The question now is whether Dems will hear this message and respond in kind.

 

By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, June 10, 2011

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public Employees, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Republican National Committee Official Involved In Wisconsin GOP Shenanigans

As you know, Wisconsin Republicans have hatched a scheme to run spoiler candidates in Dem primaries in order to delay the recall elections and give Wisconsin GOP state senators more time to save their hides. This plan has been openly embraced by the state’s Senate Majority Leader.

But it turns out there’s an interesting Washington angle on this story, too: A current top RNC official may have played a key role in developing the plan when he was with the state GOP. And he’s refusing to answer questions from reporters about it.

When the La Crosse Tribune first broke the story earlier this month, the paper reported that one Mark Jefferson, then the executive director of the Wisconsin state GOP, had been recorded discussing the plan with local GOP officials. Jefferson had served in that position for four years, as the right hand man of the Wisconsin state chairman, Reince Priebus. Priebus, of course, is now the head of the Republican National Committee.

Even as the story about the Wisconsin GOP scheme was breaking, it was already known that Jefferson would be moving to the RNC to play the role of midwestern regional director, a significant position.

No one is saying that the RNC itself played an active role in developing the plan. But Jefferson himself has in the past denounced such schemes as highly unethical. Last year, when Republicans accused Dems of running a spoiler candidate in a GOP primary in an Assembly race, Jefferson slammed it as a “nasty, cynical ploy.”

Now that Wisconsin Republicans are the ones accused of this, Jefferson has not responded to repeated requests from reporters that he defend the plan or explain his role in developing it.

This goes beyond just the role of Jefferson. There are currently mounting questions about the scope, nature and real goals of this scheme — we have now learned, for instance, that all six GOP state senators targeted for recall knew about this plan, even though they earlier claimed ignorance. Jefferson could clear up a lot about what’s really going on here. He may not see any reason to do that, of course. But Wisconsin reporters are going to continue demanding that he do.

 

By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, June 9, 2011

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Republicans On The Ropes

Christian Schneider, a fellow at a right-wing Wisconsin think-tank, has been writing regular dispatches for National Review, in which he channels the view of the state GOP. This latest one makes Wisconsin Republicans facing a recall sound pretty desperate:

If both Hopper and Kapanke lose, that leaves only one more seat Democrats have to pick up to retake the Senate. In order to delay recall elections, the GOP has planned to run fake Democratic primary candidates against the GOP challengers, which would push the elections back another month. That would give Republicans an extra month’s worth of distance from the collective-bargaining imbroglio that got them in this situation, and would allow more time to campaign.

Yet this will almost certainly be seen as a “dirty trick” by media and some voters. It certainly appears like an admission that Republicans are struggling. And while it can be argued that the recall elections in themselves are merely dirty tricks, enough of a double standard exists that this ploy could backfire.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the same thing. Fake candidates are needed in order to give them “another month.” And it’s justified because a recall is also unfair — (“I think the cynicism comes from the recalls. Recalling senators for taking a tough vote is just wrong.”)

It’s a great glimpse into the process of rationalization. Fake candidates might be a dirty trick, but so is… petitioning to recall elected officials under Wisconsin law for enacting changes they didn’t campaign on that offend their constituents!

The more interesting thing to emerge here is that Republicans just want to drag things out as long as possible because they understand that right now they’re losing. You don’t try to buy time if you think you’re winning. It’s like Homer Simpson’s strategy to get through a test he knows he can’t pass — “I’ve been working on a plan.  During the exam, I’ll hide under some coats, and hope that somehow everything will work out.” If you don’t have any particular reason to think more time will help other than “something could happen,” then delay is a mark of real desperation.

What happens if Democrats win a net of three recall campaigns? Obviously it will be a shot against the bow of the most aggressively partisan Republican governors across the country. And note also that Wisconsin Republicans were planning to protect Paul Ryan from electoral challenge by making his district more Republican. But if they lose the state Senate, they’ll need to agree on a bipartisan redistricting plan, and they may not be able to pull it off.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, The New Republic, June 8, 2011

 

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June 8, 2011 Posted by | Collective Bargaining, Conservatives, Democracy, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Media, Politics, Public Employees, Rep Paul Ryan, Republicans, Right Wing, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wisconsin Dems 6. Wisconsin Republicans 0.

Conservatives and some political observers are making a big deal out of the fact that the Dem candidate in the closely watched state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin finally conceded defeat today, as had long been expected.

But surely it’s also a big deal that we now know for certain that six Wisconsin Republican state senators will officially face recall elections, while a grand total of zero Democrats may face the same?

Today the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced that they have now approved the signatures required for recall elections against the following six GOP senators: Rob Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, and Luther Olsen. That means these six elections are definitely moving forward.

Meanwhile, the board has also announced that they are not prepared to approve the signatures gathered by Republicans for the recall of their three Democratic targets. Dems have alleged that the signature gathering by Republicans is fraudulent, and now the board has explicitly claimed that their reason for not approving the recall elections against Dems is that the signatures “have raised numerous factual and legal issues which need to be investigated and analyzed.”

Translation: The fraud allegations just may have something to them.

What this means: While Dems only need to net three recall elections to take back the state senate, it is now within the realm of possibility that even as twice that number of Republicans face recall elections, no Dems will. That’s a pretty sizable advantage for Dems.

To be clear, it is possible that the board will ultimately approve some or all three of the recall elections against Dems. But even if that happens, Dems still retain a significant advantage. Either way, it is clearly an important development that we now know for a fact that six recalls against Republicans will definitely proceed.

One other tidbit: The Government Accountability Board has also asked the Wisconsin state legislature for an additional $40,000 to help evaluate the signatures and facilitate the recall elections. But a Board spokesman, Reid Magney, confirms to me that the legislature has not responded to the request. “We have not gotten an answer from them,” Magney tells me.

Guess who controls the state legislature? Wisconsin Republicans. Indeed, the

senate side of the relevant committee that would make those funds available is stacked with GOP recall targets. Go figure!

By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, May 31, 2011

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Gov Scott Walker, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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