Republicans have never met an election they didn’t want to augment their chances to win by gerrymandering districts in their favor, suppressing the votes of people whose opinions they don’t like, or, in the case of Wisconsin, failing to hold an election at all when an unexpected vacancy occurs.
Now, Democrats in Wisconsin are ready to battle Governor Scott Walker over that last tactic, according to an article in Mother Jones magazine.
There are currently two vacancies in Wisconsin’s state legislature, but Governor Walker has refused to schedule special elections to fill those empty seats. Walker’s recalcitrance most likely stems from the results of the previous special election in the state last month, wherein Democrat Patty Schachtner pulled off an unprecedented upset, winning the special election for a Wisconsin State Senate seat by 11 points in a district that had been controlled by Republicans since 2000, and voted for Donald Trump by 17 points in 2016.
The empty seats resulted from a state senator and representative both leaving to take other jobs in the Walker governor’s mansion last December, but Walker has refused to call for special elections to fill their vacant positions, claiming that it would be a waste of money to hold elections so close to the currently scheduled adjournment of the legislature in May. Instead, he plans to have the seats contested during the 2018 general election in November and the winners seated next January.
Today, a group of Democratic activists headed by former Attorney General Eric Holder brought a lawsuit in a Wisconsin court against Walker on behalf of voters in the two unrepresented districts, accusing the governor of denying them legislative representation for over a year.
According to Mother Jones:
“the motion cites the Wisconsin Constitution’s language saying legislative vacancies ‘shall be filled as promptly as possible by special election.’ The complaint alleges ‘Governor Walker has repeatedly publicly stated that he will not do so,’ and seeks to force earlier elections.
While the districts in question have traditionally leaned Republican, the “Blue Wave” sweeping special elections around the country, as well as the earlier Wisconsin contest, has the GOP worried despite their efforts to suppress voting from Democratic constituencies through the stringent voter ID laws that the Republicans rammed through their gerrymandered legislature and resulted in as many as 45,000 people being deterred from voting.
If the Democratic lawsuit is successful, it will reverse a disturbing trend of unaccountability by the Walker administration which escaped an investigation of its fundraising from corporate interests by having the Republican controlled legislature fire the heads of the state’s ethics and elections commissions earlier this year.
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