Gov. Scott Walker’s scramble to avoid holding special elections for two open seats Wisconsin’s state legislature has been thwarted. And he’s pointing fingers at Eric Holder.
In a Thursday morning tweetstorm, the Republican governor blamed “liberals from Washington, D.C.” and Holder, whose national redistricting group sued Walker to force him to schedule the races.
“Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and his Washington, D.C.-based special interest group are behind the legal push to force Wisconsin taxpayers to pay for special elections for seats that will be filled in a few months in the normal elections,” Walker wrote.
In subsequent tweets, Walker claimed Holder’s National Redistricting Foundation had only intervened to boost its profile and raise money ahead of the fall midterms.
Holder’s group wants to win elections for governor with the hopes that they can use redistricting to permanently change the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives and put Nancy Pelosi back in charge as speaker.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) March 29, 2018
Holder fired back, noting that a “WISCONSIN judge” on Wednesday ordered the races to move forward, and that Walker had “undermined and diluted” the voting rights of his own constituents.
As the WISCONSIN judge said yesterday, "Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources,’”
We will continue to advocate for the people of Wisconsin whose voting rights you have undermined and diluted https://t.co/r65OTWzSDS
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) March 29, 2018
The Twitter volley brings a dramatic conclusion to a whirlwind series of events.
For months, Walker has argued that there’s no need to hold the elections, because scheduling them so late in an election year would be a waste of taxpayer money, and confusing for voters. Democrats have accused Walker of being afraid that the GOP might lose the contests. In January, a Democrat won a Wisconsin assembly seat in a heavily Republican district, an upset that Walker called a “wakeup call” for the GOP.
After Holder’s group sued, a district court judge ruled last week that Walker had to schedule the elections as ordered by state law.
In response, the GOP-controlled legislature said they would call an extraordinary session, with the aim of changing Wisconsin law determining when special elections are held, so that the races would not go forward.
In a rapid-fire series of decisions, an appeals court on Wednesday rejected Walker’s request that it block the lower court order. Walker had argued that the issue was moot since the legislature planned to change the law.
But shortly after, lawmakers announced it was dropping the plan to hold an extraordinary session to change the law.
The legislature’s GOP leadership did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment on that what prompted that decision.
Like Walker, the Republican House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader have argued that the timing of the special election races doesn’t make sense because it will overlap with the process of scheduling the fall elections.
Holder’s group and Wisconsin Democrats have countered that the calendar would have made more sense if Walker had scheduled the races when the seats were first vacated in late December 2017, and that there was no justification for leaving two districts unrepresented for over a year.
In a statement provided to TPM, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling cheered the sudden turn of events, saying, “There is nothing more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote.”
“Despite Gov. Walker’s best attempt to block elections and deny 200,000 voters their constitutional right to representation, justice prevailed and the courts correctly ruled that Republicans can’t ignore the law,” Shilling continued.
The special elections will now be held on June 12.