Dane Co. judge rules Walker must hold special elections

Dane County Court judge Josann Reynolds today ruled that the state must hold a special election for the two seats recently vacated in the State Legislature. Judge Reynolds was appointed by Scott Walker in 2014. The lawsuit was brought by the National Redistricting Foundation, and affiliate of Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee. 

This is largely seen as a blow to Republicans in Wisconsin. Governor Walker had declined to hold the special elections due to an odd interpretation of the law where he had decided special elections did not need to be held because the seats went vacant in 2017 and the law is only clear in the case that the seats were empty in 2017.  Judge Reynolds declared that interpretation "absurd" in the ruling today. Walker had also justified this by the fact that the legislature was due to be dismissed shortly after the resignations, but this argument has been made ludicrous by the fact that the legislature has been brought back into session for special and extraordinary sessions, leaving the districts unrepresented in this lawmaking.

State Senator Jennifer Schilling posted to Twitter

Gov. Walker is clearly intimidated by the thought of losing more power when voters go to the polls. His refusal to call special elections means thousands of Wisconsin families will be denied representation for over a year.

Plaintiffs in the suit testified that they were frustrated by being un-represented in the legislature due to Walker's decision, and many Democrats felt this was simply a way for Walker to hold these seats open so they would not be filled by Democrats in a wave of anti-Republican feeling in the state represented by the recent election of Patty Schachtner to replace Sheila Harsdorf. The two empty seats in question were held by Senator Frank Lasee of DePere and Representative Keith Ripp of Lodi, both of whom resigned their seats to take a position in the Walker administration.

It is currently not clear when the special elections for Assembly District 42 and Senate District 1 will be held, and certainly not clear who will run in the elections.

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Published on

March 22, 2018

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