The chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is confident that at least six of the eight recall elections of state Senators that the party is seeking will be successful, leading to an unprecedented set of recall elections in the summer or fall.
In an interview, Mike Tate predicted that more districts would turn in their recall petitions early, like they did today with Dan Kapanke. “I see a tremendous amount of activity and energy on the ground,” Tate said. “We have people going door to door. You’ll see other elections filing under the 60-day window.”
Tate said that the petitions were filed in Kapanke’s election because “we’re done,” with many more signatures than what were needed for ballot status, including enough of a cushion in case some signatures are found to be invalid. And not one paid signature gatherer has been used in the Kapanke recall petition or any of the others; it has been an all-volunteer effort. That alone is pretty amazing. “The fact that we were able to get one quarter of the amount of people who voted in the last election to sign a sheet of paper to say that Kapanke should go in less than 30 days is pretty remarkable,” Tate said.
I asked about the impact of sending in the Kapanke signatures early, and whether that will end up staggering the recall elections rather than providing a unified day. Tate explained that the Government Accountability Board directs these recall elections, and they’ve said publicly that it’s in their best interest to put the recalls on the same date to save money.
Six districts are considered the prime spots for the recall. Glenn Grothman and Mary Lazich reside in pretty strongly Republican districts. Efforts are ongoing there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if six out of the eight reached the ballot. But that appears to be the floor, from Tate’s perspective.
In addition to the recall elections, there are several races on Tuesday in Wisconsin, and the DPW was preparing for those. There are three state Assembly primary races, for special elections to replace three Republicans who left the Assembly to join Scott Walker’s cabinet. Of those three, Tate said that one race, in the 94th District in Onalaska in LaCrosse County, is one where “we think we have a shot.” The general election will happen next month. There are also several nonpartisan county executive races. The most prominent is in Milwaukee County, in a race to replace Scott Walker, actually. And the Republican candidate, Jeff Stone, is a state Assemblyman who voted for the anti-union bill. “He started his campaign talking about how he wanted to be the next Scott Walker. We’ll have the tale of the tape on Tuesday night, but I guess he’s probably not happy with that strategy.” Tate expressed confidence on all of those county executive races.
In the state Supreme Court race, Tate had a bit less to say because of campaign finance constraints. “Because we’re test-driving a public financing system for the Supreme Court, the other candidate would be entitled to public financing if we spent money.” There has been a tremendous amount of outside money, which is nominally non-electoral, spent on the race. The most recent spot attacks David Prosser for calling a colleague on the court “a bitch.” Based on the number of people calling party offices asking about the race, Tate would say that interest in that election is pretty high. He also talked about the high-profile defection of key Prosser supporters in the late stages. “When you have prominent wisconsites jumping from a sinking ship right before an election, it’s not a great sign.”
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin raised $1 million online in the month of March, from across the country, as progressives jumped into the labor fight. That money will go toward the recall elections for the most part.
Tate said that this elevated activity snuck up on the party and his staff in an off year. “My wife and I are having a kid, my political director is getting married… so much for family planning.”