Everyone’s having a laugh about Randy Hopper’s wife joining the recall against him, thanks to his marital indiscretions. And that’s practically poetic. However, there are also serious implications. First of all, if Hopper isn’t living in the district and instead with his mistress in Madison, as his wife apparently alleged, that’s a violation of state law. Second, there is at least some speculation that Hopper could resign the seat before a recall election could take effect, giving a successor a better opportunity to retain the seat for Republicans.
Hopper did not participate in the Fond du Lac St. Patrick’s Day parade over the weekend, citing unspecified threats. This is part of a pattern with him, making wild claims about threats that never add up.
The difference between a special election in the event of a resignation and a recall election is mainly one of timing. Because all of the recall petitions were submitted for signature gathering at once, a Hopper resignation would offset his election relative to the others. Hopper could also simply back out at the primary stage of the recall (Wisconsin recalls are essentially do-over elections; there’s a primary and then a general election).
Either way, there’s a recognition that Hopper’s vote for the anti-union bill, his marital problems, his poor poll numbers and advocacy for a tax break that would mainly benefit him has made him toxic as a candidate in the recall. Obviously, a replacement candidate who didn’t vote for the anti-union bill would not be as inviting a target, and could dampen enthusiasm and lower turnout, which is the only way Republicans would retain the seat. Having that election on a different day could lower turnout as well.
Meanwhile, the near-term election for State Supreme Court is just three weeks away; there’s a debate scheduled in a couple weeks. Why I’m responding to Mickey Kaus about this I have no idea, but typical of an outsider who has skimmed one article about Wisconsin, he wonders if voters will “feel comfortable turning a judicial election into, in effect, a referendum on a law Democrats don’t like?” Judicial elections are, in fact, partisan elections in Wisconsin. This one will be arguably LESS partisan, since it’s being run entirely with public money. And if anyone has been partisan, it’s the former Speaker of the Assembly and current Supreme Court Justice, Republican David Prosser, who has cast the race as about “protecting the conservative judicial majority and acting as a common sense compliment [sic] to both the new [Walker] administration and [GOP-controlled] Legislature.”
Both candidates are trying to stake out the high ground, casting themselves as nonpartisan and the other as ideologues. Of course, only one rose up through political ranks and held political office for 18 years, with the reliably conservative record to show for it.