The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Tuesday approved recall elections for three Republicans, bringing the total number to six. At the same time, the nonpartisan election officials put the recall elections of three Democrats on hold.
Recall elections for Republican state Sens. Rob Cowles, Alberta Darling and Sheila Harsdorf were unanimously approved. The board had previously approved recall elections for Republican state Sens. Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke and Luther Olsen.
Republicans cried foul after the board put off a decision on recall elections for Democratic state Sens. Bob Wirch, Dave Hansen and Jim Holperin.
“This is an example of a supposedly neutral government agency acting in a blatantly partisan manner to further the objectives of a particular political party,” Dan Hunt, who led the recall effort against Wirch, told The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Board attorney Shane Falk explained that the decision on Democratic recall elections had been delayed because Democrats raised legal objections that the board had not dealt with before.
Falk said that Republicans had brought the same challenges as they had recall elections that had already been approved.
“We’ve attempted to work concurrently on all the petitions but we simply don’t have enough staff,” Falk told the board.
“We have a biased body that has no check or balance with the voters,” David VanderLeest, who plans to run against Democrat Dave Hansen, complained.
The accountability board was created by a Democratic Senate and Republican Assembly in 2007 to oversee elections without partisanship.
“I’ve never seen any hint of partisan bias,” University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor David Canon told the Journal Sentinel. “They absolutely try to oversee Wisconsin election laws fairly.”
The board planned to ask a judge Wednesday for an additional week to approve the Democratic recall elections.
If things go as planned, the Republican recall elections would be held July 12. If there is more than one challenger in any race, July 12 would be a primary and Aug. 9 would be the general election.
Democratic recall elections would be held July 19. The court will have the final say over the schedule.
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