Fake Dems Can Run in Recall
Primary Elections on May 8th
Madison - State elections officials Tuesday said that six fake Democrats could remain on the ballot in the upcoming recall elections, ensuring that all the races would hold primary elections on May 8 and general elections on June 5.
The Government Accountability Board voted 6-0 to leave in place the protest candidates who filed paperwork to run in the recall elections against Gov. Scott Walker and five other GOP officials. The effort was devised by Republicans to ensure that their state Senate candidates didn't face general elections on May 8, the day that Democrats will hold a real primary in the governor's race.
The accountability board also approved a slate of candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and state Senate, including a liberal Walker critic who is also running as a spoiler candidate in the governor's race.
Jeremy Levinson, an attorney for the labor-backed group We are Wisconsin, said that the Republicans filing to run as Democrats should have been booted from the ballot because they had given false information to voters. Levinson, who had filed a complaint against the fake Democrats on behalf of six citizens, said Republicans had openly acknowledged that they were running their own candidates in the Democratic primary.
"There is no question that in this instance these six candidates knowingly filed false information with the GAB on a number of documents. . . . The First Amendment does not require the government to ignore an admitted lie and that is what we have here," he said.
But Levinson said We are Wisconsin would not be appealing the accountability board decision because it didn't want to delay the elections.
Gladys Huber, who is running for governor as a Democrat, is listed as an at-large member of the Ozaukee County Republican Party. Huber has not returned phone calls.
State elections staff said it would be unacceptable and unconstitutional for the state to start deciding who was a legitimate representative of a given political party.
"The law also does not permit the board to inquire into the motivations for an individual's candidacy for office, an exercise which would inevitably lead to the board, as a government agency, making subjective judgments regarding the legitimacy of political candidacies," a memo prepared by the staff reads.
One of the board members, Thomas Cane, said that he felt that the accountability board would be overstepping its authority if it began to decide which candidates would be appropriate for a given party.
"I think it would be bad precedent," Cane said.
Republicans have noted that six such protest candidates the party ran as Democrats last summer were placed on the ballot in recall elections against Republican state senators.
Joe Olson, an attorney for the state Republican Party, said there was no precedent or authority for elections officials to take a candidate off the ballot because he or she doesn't faithfully represent the ideals of a political party. That should be up to voters to decide, he said.
"There's simply no legal authority for the board to do what Mr. Levinson is asking it to do," Olsen said. "This is about the Democratic Party wanting to control who gets on the ballot."
But Lori Compas, a Democrat challenging Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau in a recall election, said that voters have asked her whether she or the Republican Party's offering in the Democratic primary, Gary Ellerman, are the real challenger to Fitzgerald.
"You're saying that it's OK to put false information on a ballot," Compas said.
Arthur Kohl-Riggs of Madison, a liberal critic who has demonstrated and blogged against the governor, is running as a Republican. Kohl-Riggs has said on his website that his candidacy would help ensure that Republicans vote in the GOP primary for governor rather than crossing over to vote as spoilers in the Democratic primary.