Wisconsin governor Scott Walker -- whose reign has been haunted by scandal and propped up by out-of-state dark money -- has announced that he will not call special elections to fill seats in the Wisconsin legislature, following on from Democratic upsets in state Republican strongholds.
The announcement means that tens of thousands of Wisconsinites will have no representation in their state legislature, in violation of the state constitution.
It may be that Walker is refusing to schedule the special elections because he is scared.The results of special elections held last Tuesday were disastrous for Walker and his Republican allies. The party lost a State Senate seat in western Wisconsin’s 10th District, as a 26-point Republican advantage in November 2016 shifted to an 11-point Democratic advantage in January 2018. And the GOP came closer than anyone expected to losing an Assembly seat in overwhelmingly Republican Washington County, where a Democrat won 43 percent of the vote. Even the governor admits the loss of the State Senate seat represents a “wake-up call.” And Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, argues that: “Governor Walker is running scared and is playing politics with people’s right to be represented in the State Capitol. He is clearly feeling the heat and scrambling to boost lack luster polls and the Republican brand, but voters are wide awake and aren’t buying it.”
It may be that Walker—who has run his campaigns with massive infusions of money from outside Wisconsin, approved such extreme gerrymandering that the federal courts have intervened, and backed restrictive voter-ID laws, assaults on early voting, same-day registration, and a host of other assaults on voting rights—really is as willing to sacrifice Wisconsin democracy on the altar of his many ambitions as his critics suggest.
Whatever his reason, the fact remains that Walker has refused to call special elections to fill the seats of former state senator Frank Lasee, of De Pere, and former state representative Keith Ripp, of Lodi, a pair of Republicans who quit the legislature in December to take posts with the governor’s administration. The governor wants to leave those seats open until January 2019—denying tens of thousands of Wisconsinites representation for a full year.
Scott Walker Is Literally Preventing Wisconsinites From Voting [John Nichols/The Nation]
(via Naked Capitalism)