Tape: Wis. GOPers Sought Spoiler Candidates Against Dems For Senate Recalls

June 2, 2011 7:20 a.m.
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Wisconsin Republicans now have another mess to deal with in the state Senate recalls: Reports of a taped conversation in which a county GOP official is apparently heard discussing the possibility of recruiting spoiler candidates to mess with the Democrats.

The La Crosse Tribune reports on a meeting last week of Republicans in La Crosse County, in the western Wisconsin district of GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who is being challenged by Dem state Rep. Jennifer Shilling:

On the recording obtained by the Tribune, party vice chairman Julian Bradley says he just spoke with Mark Jefferson, executive director of the state GOP, and “we are actively keeping our ears to the ground and if anybody knows anybody for a candidate that would be interested on the Democratic side in running in the primary against Jennifer Shilling…. So if anybody knows any Democrats who would be interested, please let us know.”

Should a primary be necessary, the general election would be pushed back, according to scenarios proposed by the Government Accountability Board.

That, Bradley said on the tape, “would give the state senator an extra month to campaign in. The opposition would obviously have to spend more time and more money.”

This was the same meeting where Kapanke told GOPers that there are “tons” of government workers in his district, and he would need them to be asleep on election day. The paper noted that Kapanke arrived at the meeting after Bradley spoke.

Kapanke campaign manager Jennifer Harrington told the paper that they are not involved in any talks of recruiting a Democratic candidate in order to delay the election. “If we have six weeks or … 10 weeks, the timing of it is not a concern for us,” said Harrington. “We’re not in the business of candidate recruitment. We’re focused on the campaign. Any conversations are happening outside of this campaign.”

TPM contacted the state GOP, asking if there were any active discussions about recruiting candidates to cause problems for the Democrats. “We don’t have a comment at this time,” said party spokesperson Katie McCallum.

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