Wisconsin Republicans Eye Change To Recall Law

There’s new controversy in the push to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Which district maps will be used it, and for any further state Senate recalls.

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 on 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 has some Republicans looking at passing a new law, to have the map take effect immediately for election purposes, and thus for any further recalls.

In order to pass such a law, however, they would need total unity in the state Senate and its current 17-16 GOP majority, assuming that all Democrats would vote against it. A call by TPM to one key moderate swing vote, GOP state Sen. Dale Schultz, was not immediately returned.

On the one hand, holding the recalls under the old districts would mean that some legislators would be subject to recalls by voters that they would no longer represent. On the other hand, using the new districts would mean that recalls would include areas and voters who had not elected the legislators to their current terms.

“It’s a double-edged sword, probably more than a doubled-edged sword, no matter how you cut this,” Kennedy told the Associated Press. “We normally don’t see recalls during redistricting years. This is an unusual time, this is unusual territory.”

“I don’t see a clear path to getting out of this mess other than clarifying these districts,” state Sen. Mary Lazich (R) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The paper reports:

Lazich said she supported changing the law so that the new districts would take effect right away, which would mean any recalls would have to be conducted in the revised districts. She said she would discuss the matter with Senate Republicans when they meet Thursday and decide after that whether to write a bill on the issue.

Any bill to change when the new districts take effect would have to move through quickly because recall petitions can be circulated for a new batch of lawmakers starting Nov. 4 – a week from now. Asked if she thought a bill could pass, Lazich said: “The Legislature can move mountains when they need to or they can move like molasses in January.”

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 narrow 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.

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