Wisconsin Republicans now appear to be conducting specific strategy of disruption in the state Senate recall elections — beyond just a prior incident that emerged last week: Trying to recruit fake Democratic candidates, not to run as spoilers in the general elections — at least, not at this point — but to force Dem primaries that would delay the general elections under the recall rules.
The key here is that recalls are now tentatively scheduled for July 12, under the state election officials’ proposed timelines, targeting six Republicans. As of now, those Republicans are only facing one Democrat each. But if there were additional Democrats, the July 12 date would then become the primary, giving the incumbents more time to campaign.
This story first emerged last week, with a report of an audio recording of a county GOP chairman in the western Wisconsin district of state Sen. Dan Kapanke (R), discussing the idea of recruiting fake candidates at a local Republican meeting in late May. Now, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, local GOP officials in two other districts –Â of state Sens. Randy Hopper and Luther Olsen — have been discovered to be pursuing the same concept.The paper’s “No Quarter” watchdog correspondent Daniel Bice reports:
In letters obtained by No Quarter, local Republican Party officials are encouraging their GOP colleagues to collect enough signatures to get a fake Democratic candidate on the ballot in each of two upcoming recall elections.
The spoiler Democrats, who are identified by name in the letters, would run in the Democratic primaries for the seats now held by Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon.
Both of the fake Democrats have a history of giving almost exclusively to major Republicans.
“We need to make sure Democrat challengers face primaries to allow our Republicans time to mount a campaign,” Dan Feyen, chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party, wrote in the letter to “fellow conservatives” on Friday.
Hopper told the paper that he has nothing to do with the effort, and would prefer to have no primaries, and the election done with as soon as possible: “Let me freakin’ be done.”
Feyen confirmed the letters to the paper, saying he was trying to get a “protest candidate” — and added that the activities are being coordinated by the state Republican Party.
As a kicker, here is a sentence from the letter in Olsen’s race, written by Sauk County Republican Party Chairman Tim McCumber and Waupaca County Republican Party Chairman Fred Zaug, promoting the fake campaign of “Democrat” Rol Church: “We can’t stress enough how important it is to have Rol on the ballot to combat the shady maneuvers of Madison liberals and their out-of-state allies.”
Late Update: The state GOP has released this statement from executive Stephan Thompson, admitting to their effort to delay the recall general elections by forcing Democratic primaries, and explaining the reasons why they are doing it:
“The upcoming recall elections are unprecedented not only in Wisconsin, but in our nation’s history. Unlike the Democratic Senators who deserted their constituents for a trip to Illinois, six Republican state Senators face recall not for misconduct, but for doing the job they were elected to do: taking a stance on a tough issue that came before the legislature. Now, these Republican senators are again busy doing their jobs crafting a fiscally responsible state budget that promotes economic growth, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage with many of their challengers who have had sufficient time to campaign. Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved. The public deserves time to learn about the differences between the candidates and about the Republican plan to control government spending and boost economic growth vs. the Democrat alternative of job-killing tax hikes.”