Key Wisconsin Republican Opposes Change To Recall Law

An effort by Wisconsin Republicans to make things harder for Democrats in any potential new state Senate recalls in the coming year appears to be out of the running – with state Sen. Dale Schultz, a moderate Republican who holds a key swing vote in the 17-16 chamber, announcing that he will vote against the measure.

The Associated Press reports that Schultz will vote against a bill that would make new recalls apply under the newly-redrawn districts — which were passed as part of a Republican-friendly map, following a GOP takeover of state government in 2010 — instead of the older districts:

Schultz says he opposes it because he feels voters who elected him should have the say on whether he is recalled.

Under Wisconsin’s recall law, elected officials must have served at least one year of their current term before being recalled. And because half of the state Senate is up each two years, this exempted earlier this year the half of the Senate that was just elected in 2010. However, with that ceiling now lifted going into next year, the state Dems are aiming to launch more state Senate recalls, in addition to their goal of recalling Walker.

The next wrinkle, then, is the fact that 2012 is a redistricting cycle — and the state Republicans, who gained control of both legislative chambers and the governorship in 2010, passed a very GOP-friendly redistricting map earlier this year.

The state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, told lawmakers last Wednesday that further recalls would take place under the old districts — because the redistricting law was written in a way that it would take effect in Fall 2012 for election purposes, though at the same time it took effect immediately for constituent service purposes.

This had some Republicans looking at passing a new law, to have the map take effect immediately for election purposes, and thus for any further recalls. Schultz’s opposition, though, would appear to cut off this option, assuming that all 16 Democrats vote no.

Wisconsin Democrats earlier this year, faced with a 19-14 Republican majority in the state Senate after the 2010 Republican wave, mounted a campaign against Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation by trying to recall their way to a majority. However, they were also hampered by the fact that the only recall-eligible districts were ones where the incumbent had won their terms in 2008, even during that year’s Democratic wave.

In the end, Democrats were only able to pick up two seats, for a narrower 17-16 Republican majority. Out of the recall campaigns that were waged by both parties, four incumbent Republicans and three Democrats retained their seats, while two Republicans lost to Democratic challengers.