Tag Archive | "Jim Holperin"

2011 Wisconsin recall elections come to a close with two incumbent Democrats retaining seats

August 17, 2011

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By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

MADISON, Wisconsin: Two Democratic incumbent senators in Wisconsin both held their ground tonight, defeating Republican challengers in recall elections.

The results mark the end of the dramatic summer recalls in Wisconsin, which saw two Republican incumbents knocked off and leaving the GOP with a 17-16 partisan advantage in the Senate.

In the District 12 recall, incumbent Jim Holperin defeated GOP challenger Kim Simac.

August 16 Recall – District 12**[1][2][3]
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Holperin (D) 29,750 55%
Kim Simac (R) 24,069 45%

**95% precincts reporting

Holperin won comfortably by 10 points. In 2008, when Holperin first won election to the Wisconsin State Senate, he won by just two points in a tight race with Tom Tiffany.

2008 District 12 Election

Wisconsin State Senate, District 12 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Jim Holperin (D) 43,595
Tom Tiffany 41,480

In the other recall race tonight, Incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Wirch retained his seat, defeating challenger Jonathan Steitz by more than 6,000 votes.

August 16 Recall – District 22**[4][5]
Candidates Votes Percent
Robert Wirch (D) 25,541 58%
Jonathan Steitz (R) 18,838 42%

**100% precincts reporting

In 2008 Wirch won in a landslide over his Republican challenger, Benjamin Bakke — a more than 33-point margin. But tonight, Wirch won his recall election by a much slimmer differential of 16 points — although still a sizable margin of victory.

2008 District 22 Election

Wisconsin State Senate, District 22 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Robert Wirch (D) 54,946
Benjamin Bakke (R) 27,383

Wirch may be out of a job again come next year, as the newly drawn and recently approved redistricting map has Wirch’s residence outside of District 22. Meaning he would need to move to run for re-election or run in another district entirely.

Turnout

In the recall elections on August 9, turnout was about 72% compared to the number of votes cast in November 2008. Tonight, turnout was 59% compared to the number of votes cast in November 2008.

In what likely comes as a relief to most citizens of Wisconsin, the trips to the polls in summer 2011 is now over. Residents can return to their daily lives, without the likely interruption of another campaign ad or knock at the door.

Voter turnout in 2008 general election vs. 2011 recalls
District 2008 General Election total votes cast Total received by winner in 2008 Total received by winner in 2011 Total received by loser in 2011 2011 General Election total votes cast
2 60,900 60,507 (Cowles) 27,543 (Cowles) 18,039 (Nusbaum) 45,582
8 99,328 50,125 (Darling) 39,471 (Darling)[6] 34,096 (Pasch) 68,448[6]
10 98,967 55,816 (Harsdorf) 37,099 (Harsdorf) 27,250 (Moore) 73,567
14 54,486 54,138 (Olsen) 26,554 (Olsen) 24,365 (Clark) 50,919
18 83,724 41,904 (Hopper) 26,937 (King) 24,365 (Hopper) 55,125
32 87,881 45,454 (Kapanke) 33,192 (Shilling) 26,937 (Kapanke) 59,916
Totals 485,286 353,557
Voter turnout in 2008 general election vs. 2011 recalls
District 2008 General Election total votes cast Total received by winner in 2008 Total received by winner in 2011 Total received by loser in 2011 2011 General Election total votes cast
12 85,075 43,595 (Holperin) 29,750 (Holperin)*** 24,069 (Simac)*** 53,819***
22 81,329 54,946 (Wirch) 25,541 {Wirch) 18,838 (Steitz) 44,379
Totals 166,404 98,198
***95% of precincts reporting


What’s next for recalls in Wisconsin and beyond

August 10, 2011

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By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: And then there were two.

As the dust continues to settle from last night’s six recall elections, eyes now turn toward the two recall elections targeting incumbent Democrats. Voters in the 12th and 22nd districts will go to the polls next Tuesday to close out Wisconsin’s recall season, which began some six months ago following the introduction and subsequent passage of the budget repair bill.

District 12

Freshman Senator Jim Holperin (D) will be facing off against challenger Kim Simac (R) on Tuesday. Simac, President of the tea party group Northwoods Patriots, led the recall campaign against Holperin and defeated Robert Lussow in the July 19 Republican primary.

Campaign finance reports filed this week show Holperin outraised Simac for the year by more than double – $494,000 to $221,000.[1]Outside organizations from both sides have poured money into the race, notably in TV ads from Taking Back Wisconsin, We Are Wisconsin, Greater Wisconsin Committee, and Americans for Prosperity.

Last night the candidates met for an hour long radio forum – their first and only debate of the campaign. Simac criticized Holperin for supporting increased gas and sales taxes, which she said hurts local business owners. Holperin said the increases were not harmful as it increased state funding for infrastructure was the best way to help the district. Holperin said Simac has been “contemptuous” in her role leading the Northwoods Patriots Tea Party group.[2]

Holperin won his current seat in 2008, defeating Tom Tiffany by just over 2,100 votes.[3] He survived a previous recall attempt in 1990 when he was a member of the state Assembly. Simac has not held elective office.

District 22

Voters in the 22nd District will be deciding between Sen. Robert Wirch (D), who has served since 1997, and challenger Jonathan Steitz. Steitz, a corporate attorney and former small business owner, defeated Fred Ekornaas in the July 19 Republican primary. In comparison to the other nine recalls, the race between Wirch and Steitz has been relatively quiet and has not drawn the huge spending from outside groups that other districts have seen. As for the candidates themselves, reports filed Tuesday show Wirch’s campaign has raised $257,000 for the year, while Steitz brought in $72,000.[1]

Wirch easily won re-election to the Senate in 2008, defeating Benjamin Bakke by more than 27,000 votes.[4] Steitz has not previously held elective office.

Beyond next week

Democrats are said to still be planning a recall attempt against Gov. Scott Walker (R), but such a campaign cannot officially begin until he has been in office a year, which will occur next January. Following the results of last night, Walker said he still expects a recall, but believes that voters are worn out from the campaigning and divisive attacks. “The last thing people want to see is tens of millions of dollars come into Wisconsin again and drive up these negative ads. They’ve had it with year-round campaigning, and they’re ready to move on.”[5]

Meanwhile, one state representative is attempting to limit future recalls by amending the constitution. Republican Assemblyman Robin Vos (R) issued a press release today stating that he is working on an amendment that would require all recall petitions to provide a reason for the recall that relates to the official responsibilities of the office being targeted. He is planning to have it ready to be introduced for the fall session.[6]

With last night’s victories Republicans were able to secure their continued control of the Senate by a 17 to 16 margin. If Democrats are able to hold on to their two seats next week, the one vote difference could empower moderate senators who are more likely to cross the aisle to vote. However, as Wisconsin has become one of the most sharply divided states in the nation, moderates on either side have become hard to find. It remains to be seen if this divide will heal once the recalls are over, or if the sharp partisanship will become even more ingrained.

However, the national impact of what started in Wisconsin continues. In Michigan, signatures were turned in last week to attempt to recall Michigan state representative Paul Scott (R). In Arizona, Senate President Russell Pearce is facing a recall election on November 8. He is currently fighting the recall via the courts system.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, voters will go to the polls on November 8 to decide on a veto referendum that would repeal legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees.

So while the political firestorm in Wisconsin should simmer in coming weeks, voter activism remains fervent across the nation.

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

Less than one week to go before first Wisconsin recall election

July 13, 2011

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By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: Now that last night’s Democratic primaries are complete, voters in Wisconsin will be shifting their attention to the three recall races taking place on July 19.

Next Tuesday, there will be two Republican primaries and one recall election of a Democratic state senator. The candidates running in those races are:

District 12

Republican Party July 19 Republican primary:

District 22

Republican Party July 19 Republican primary:

District 30

July 19 recall election:
Republican Party David VanderLeest, Wind farm developer
Democratic Party (United States) Dave Hansen, Incumbent Hansen has served District 30 since 2001.

The result of the two Republican primaries will likely have little impact on the momentum for the remaining races. Whoever wins will face the Democratic incumbent on August 16. No clear-cut favorite has emerged between the two candidates in each race.

However, the winner of the election between Hansen and VanderLeest could have a significant effect on the ability of each side to drum-up support going forward. If Hansen retains his seat, there will only be two more opportunities for Republicans to remove a sitting Democrat from office. Additionally, his victory could trigger an even greater incentive for Democrats heading into the six recalls on August 9. But if VanderLeest ultimately unseats Hansen, that that could conversely trigger a heavy stream of support to GOP-backed efforts.

Campaign finance reports

Monday was also the deadline for candidates to file campaign financial reports to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in the three Senate districts holding elections on July 19.

When candidates, committees and organizations file their summary reports with GAB, that document is called a GAB-2. According to Wisconsin law, if a candidate or organization receives a contribution of $500 or more after that report is filed, that must be reported within 24 hours to the GAB. That information is filed with a GAB-3 document.

The following chart is based on figures from GAB-2 July Continuing reports.

Recall Fundraising Update as of July 13, 2011
District Candidate Candidate Type Total funds raised for quarter Cash on Hand Total funds raised for year
12 Jim Holperin Incumbent $185,698.99 $169,618.23 $336,602.88
12 Kim Simac Republican Party Republican $89,407.00 $33,555.81 $ 89,407.00
12 Robert Lussow Republican Party Republican $350.00 $ 350.00 $350.00
22 Robert Wirch Incumbent $130,805.68 $139,221.51 $181,770.63
22 Fred Ekornaas Republican Party Republican $4,783.25 $262.29 $4,783.25
22 Jonathan Steitz Republican Party Republican $6,350.00 $12,476.10 $33,547.40
30 Dave Hansen Incumbent $189,412.77 $250,798.75 $316,850.11
30 David VanderLeest Republican Party Republican $2,000.00 $715.12 $2,000.00
TOTAL $608,807.69 $606,997.81 $965,311.27

With the exception of Fred Ekornaas, all of the candidates have submitted GAB-3 reports as well. Kim Simac turned in an amended report today for additional contributions totaling $11,250.00, by far the highest of the GAB-3 reports. The second highest was Jonathan Steitz, who declared recent donations of $4,000.

As we reported, the bulk of spending in the recall races has been taking place via organizations not directly tied to the candidates themselves. For example, the candidates above combined to report $608,807.69 in contributions this quarter. That sum was eclipsed by a single contribution from the AFSCME of $800,000 to the We Are Wisconsin PAC on July 8, 2011. Millions of dollars has been spent and raised by groups both inside and outside of Wisconsin.

Primary voter turnout in perspective

Total Number of Votes Cast in 2008 State Senate Primary Elections vs. 2011
District 2008 Democratic primary 2008 Republican primary 2011 Democratic primary
2 71 (No candidate) 5,361 (Cowles) 21,776
8 8,748 (Sheldon Wasserman) 12,561 (Darling) 33,554
10 4,805 (Alison Page) 4,204 (Harsdorf) 35,331
14 24 (No candidate) 5,732 (Olsen) 22,414
18 1,849 (King) 5,803 (Hopper) 28,519
32 1,983 (Tara Johnson) 1,877 (Kapanke) 36,002

With the final vote totals from yesterday’s Democratic primaries in, it is clear that turnout in all six races was high. Out of the six districts, the 8th had the highest turnout for Democratic primaries in 2008 – 8,748 votes. Yesterday, according to unofficial results, 33,554 votes were cast in the 8th. The district with the highest turnout last night was the 32nd, where 36,002 made their choice at the polls. Comparatively, in 2008, the Democratic primary in the same district saw 1,983 votes, while the Republican primary had 1,877.

In total, the six Democratic primaries yesterday combined for 177,596 votes cast. In 2008, votes cast in the six Democratic and the six Republican primaries only totaled 53,018.

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

Signature deadline tomorrow for opponents to Republican incumbents in Wisconsin recall

June 13, 2011

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By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

There are 28 days 6 hours left until the first election date (likely to be primaries) for Wisconsin Senator Recalls.

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timeline

MADISON, Wisconsin: Candidates wishing to run in the six Republican recall elections ordered for July 12, must file petitions with at least 400 valid signatures to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by 5 p.m. CST tomorrow.

The GAB has a list of all registered candidates on their website that they will be updating regularly. As of Noon CST today, the following candidates are listed:

District 2

District 8

District 10

District 14

District 18

District 32

Because Wisconsin does not have registration by party, it is an open primary state — meaning anyone can legally run in any party’s’ primary.[1]

The deadline for challenges to these petitions will be at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 17.

Placeholder candidates

Over the weekend, it was revealed that some groups requested the Democrats to field spoiler candidates of their own in Republican races.[2] The group We are Wisconsin published a release urging the Democratic Party to run spoiler candidates in the Republican primaries as well.[3]

What’s at stake is a political game of chess. Each side is trying to predict the opponent’s next move. Republicans have indicated a desire to run Democratic primary candidates in all six Republican recalls, in part to delay the actual recall until August 9. However, Democrats appear to be predicting that the Republicans may in fact be looking to split the recalls and have some take place on July 12 with still others on August 9.

As of today, there are spoiler candidates who have declared an intent to run in all six districts. However, that does not guarantee they will file sufficient signatures. Conceivably, some Republican incumbents could face recall on July 12, while still others would wait until August 9 in order for a primary to weed out the opposition.

In response, the Democratic Party has indicated a desire to keep all races on the same day, and have therefore filed “placeholder” candidates to run in the primaries in the event that a spoiler candidate does not in fact have the required 400 signatures to appear on the ballot. The party says one candidate will be legitimate while the other will be a “placeholder.”[4]

Either way, it’s looking increasingly clear that no incumbent will face recall until August at the very earliest — leaving a long campaign season ahead.

“Ungodly sums”

As we previously reported, the recall elections are shaping up to be extremely expensive campaigns. To date, candidates targeted for recall have filed two reports, the Spring Pre-Election and Special Pre-Election reports. That data show more than $1.2 million flowing into the race on the side of candidates, while comparable reports show the recall campaigns took in nearly $450,000. But that is just the money that has to be reported. This does not take into account money being spent by organizations that do not legally have to disclose their spending to the GAB – such as 501C4 groups.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, referred to the amounts being raised as “ungodly sums.” “It’s safe to say that we’re going to see some million-dollar-plus senate elections here. We’ve seen some seven-figure spending in senate races before in Wisconsin, but it’s very rare. You’ll see that in these recall elections,” he said.[5]

Last week the WDC filed campaign finance complaints today against Republicans Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke, and Democrat Dave Hansen for failing to disclose occupation and employer information about campaign contributors. [6] The WDC announced that they found undisclosed occupation and employer information for four of the other campaigns as well, but the Hopper, Kapanke and Hansen campaigns were by far the most.

Meanwhile, the cost of holding the elections is proving to be an expensive affair as well. La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer estimated a primary in the recall election against Dan Kapanke would cost the county and various municipalities $50,000. Fond du Lac County Clerk Lisa Freiberg said primaries in the recalls against Luther Olsen and Randy Hopper would cost the county $10,000 each.[7] While estimates and municipal costs vary greatly, all involved seem to agree with Freiberg’s statement – “This is going to be costly. We just keep spending, spending, spending on elections this year.”[8]

GAB certifies three recall elections for Wisconsin Democrats, sets election for July 19

June 08, 2011

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By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: After nearly 9 hours of deliberations, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board certified the recalls of three Democratic incumbents and set an initial election for July 19.[1] Thousands of signatures considered invalid or fraudulently collected were struck from the petitions, but the resulting number was not enough to reject any of them outright.[2]

After hearing challenges to the petitions made by the incumbents, as well as presentations from the respective recall committees and board staff, the Board certified 19,255 signatures to recall Jim Holperin, 17,138 for Robert Wirch, and 15,540 for Dave Hansen.[3] Recall elections for the six Republicans will take place July 12.

However, the certainty of July 12 and July 19 election dates still remains unclear. There are pending lawsuits filed by GOP incumbents that, if history is any indication, could end up pushing back the election dates. Attorneys for Dan Kapanke, Luther Olsen, and Randy Hopper have also filed petitions to stop the recalls against them. Hearings have not yet been scheduled for those cases.[4] Meanwhile, Jeremy Levinson, the attorney for the Democratic incumbents, did not indicate whether an appeal would be filed based on GAB’s ruling today.[5]

Arguing before the Board, Levinson said widespread fraud put into question all of the petitions submitted against Democratic senators, stating, “Part of our presentation today is the way in which this was done makes it clear that not enough signatures appear on these petitions to trigger a recall, and more cannot be relied upon because of the fraud and malfeasance that permeates the entire process.”[6] Democrats also questioned the use of paid petition circulators, which, they say, led in part to the fraud. Eric McLeod, representing the recall campaigns, accused the Democrats of “perpetrating fraud on the board,” and referred to the Democrat’s assertion of fraud as “empty rhetoric.”[7]

GAB staff attorney Shane Falk said the question the Board had to decide was whether the will of the electorate could be determined due to the alleged fraud and paid circulators. “At a certain point, the will of the electorate cannot be determined because of malfeasance,” he said. [8] In the end the six-members of the GAB acknowledged the claims of fraud brought by Democrats, but decided it was not clear enough to throw out entire petitions. Democratic spokeswoman Gillian Morris expressed disappointment in the decision, but said “I’m confident that voters of Wisconsin will support senators who stand up for working families and seniors.”[7]

Once the recalls are officially certified, candidates planning to run will be required to obtain at least 400 verified signatures and submit them to the GAB four weeks prior to the election. All three districts have seen multiple candidates express a desire to challenge the incumbent, which would indicate the likelihood of primaries on July 19.

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timeline

GAB memo leaves fate of final Wisconsin recall certifications unclear

June 07, 2011

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By Geoff Pallay and Greg Janetka

MADISON, Wisconsin: Tomorrow the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. to determine the fate of the final three outstanding recall petitions against Democratic senators Jim Holperin, Robert Wirch, and Dave Hansen. The Board will hear challenges to the petitions made by the incumbents, as well as presentations from the respective recall committees and board staff.[1] If approved, it is expected that these elections would be held July 19, a week after the six Republican recalls. If there is more than one challenger, the primary would take place on the 19, with the actual recall election on August 16.

A little after 9 p.m. CST tonight, GAB officials posted on the state website the memos for tomorrow’s meeting. Four documents were posted — one each for Senators Hansen, Holperin, Wirch and an additional memo providing more background. The final memo provides context to the first three. Overall, the GAB memos leave the matter unresolved regarding whether the recalls are likely to be certified or rejected tomorrow.

In the memos, GAB officials invalidate some signatures in much the same way they did for the Republican incumbent petitions. Based on the initial affirming and invalidating, the following totals of signatures would be considered valid:

Those figures would be sufficient to trigger a recall. However, at the end of each memo, officials point to the possibility that an even greater number of signatures may be invalidated. The end of each memo reads:

…valid verified signatures, but all subject to review of signatures and involved petition pages pursuant to the circulator address and fraud allegations discussed in the accompanying Memorandum.

GAB officials have not made a recommendation whether petition circulators violated Wisconsin statute §8.40(2) and Wisconsin Administrative code §2.05(14). In its memo, GAB officials request that the Board determine whether it will enforce certain provisions of those laws regarding the residential address of circulators. In short, those two statutes pertain to the physical address of petition circulators. Democratic challenges to the recall petitions call into question the validity of addresses for some circulators. If a circulator were to violate those statutes, then all signatures on those petitions could in theory be invalidated.

In its memo, GAB officials provide several pages of background and context regarding the certification of recalls.

The next step appears therefore to be whether the six-member Board will make an ultimate decision regarding the two areas of Wisconsin law in question. If the Board rules that the recall campaigns did not violate those laws, then it would likely indicate that the recalls have sufficient numbers of signatures to continue. That would then open the door for possible Democratic lawsuits to bring the recall challenges to the courts — much like three Republican incumbents have already done.

However, if the Board rules that the recall campaigns did indeed violate the two statutes, then that opens the possibility for the Board to invalidate enough signatures to bring the recall campaigns below the required threshold. According to the GAB memo, the Board — if it were to enforce the two statutes — could invalidate any petition page submitted by circulators that were named in the Democratic challenge. Thereby the recalls would be deemed insufficient and no election date called.

However the Board acts tomorrow, further legal challenges from the losing side can be expected.

The GAB was originally slated to hear challenges to the three petitions on May 31, but announced that it would be unable to consider them due to “numerous factual and legal issues.” In a statement they said more time would be necessary in order to ensure a complete record is available for examination.[2] On June 3, Dane County Judge John Markson gave the Board a one-week extension to finish reviewing the three remaining recall petitions, giving them until June 10.[3]

More details on “fake” candidates

Yesterday we discussed media reports on the possibility of Republicans recruiting fake “spoiler” candidates to run as Democrats, noting that nominating petitions are circulating to place John Buckstaff on the ballot as a Democratic candidate in the 18th District, and Rol Church on the ballot in the 14th. A third protest candidate, Isaac Weix, is reportedly collecting signatures to run in the 10th district race, where Shelly Moore has already declared her candidacy against incumbent Sheila Harsdorf.[4] Moore called Weix’s candidacy, “about the most un-American thing I can imagine,” while a spokesman for Harsdorf said she does not support the protest candidacy and has nothing to do with it. James Smith, a recent member of the La Crosse County Republican executive committee, announced he is running as a protest candidate in the 32nd district, where Democrat Jennifer Shilling has challenged incumbent Dan Kapanke. Smith explained, “I want to bring light on the issue that 22,000 signatures can pretty much overturn an election where even the loser got 40,000 votes.” Shilling’s campaign declined to comment on his candidacy.[5]

Stephan Thompson, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, issued a statement on June 6 indicating that the GOP is openly advocating fake candidates run because Republicans are currently at a disadvantage. “Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved,” he said.[6] Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald came out in support of the tactic as a tool to give Republican incumbents more time to campaign.[7]

Democratic Senate Leader Mark Miller called the move a “partisan, coordinated attack on democracy,” and “Nixonion tactics,” saying, “we don’t need to waste taxpayer money on phony elections to help these Republicans duck the voters and needlessly delay these elections.”[8]

Campaign finance complaints

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed campaign finance complaints today against Republicans Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke, and Democrat Dave Hansen for failing to disclose occupation and employer information about campaign contributors. [9] Hopper’s campaign report covering January 1 to April 18 was found to be missing employer information on 23 contributions totaling $42,650. Kapanke’s report from the same period was missing data on 12 contributions totaling 6,150, while Hansen had missing info on 14 contributions totaling $2,939. Under Wisconsin law, any contributor who gives over $100 in a calender year must disclose their occupation and employer. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign announced that they found undisclosed occupation and employer information for four of the other campaigns as well. But the Hopper, Kapanke and Hansen campaigns were by far the most. On the Democratic side, Robert Wirch was missing information on five contributions totaling $1,225 and Jim Holperin did not properly identify one contributor who gave a total of $150. For the Republicans, Sheila Harsdorf did not have information on three contributions totaling $1,325 and Alberta Darling had missing info on four contributors totaling $950. Luther Olsen’s report properly identified all of his donors, while Robert Cowles did not file any campaign finance reports.

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timeline

Campaign finance reports detail expensive recall races in Wisconsin

June 01, 2011

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By Greg Janetka and Geoff Pallay

MADISON, Wisconsin: If trends shown in reports filed with Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board continue, the Wisconsin recalls are going to be extremely expensive elections. To date, candidates targeted for recall have filed two reports, the Spring Pre-Election and Special Pre-Election reports. That data show more than $1.2 million flowing into the race just on the side of candidates. Numerous committees pushing for recalls have also been active.

Due to a 1987 law, campaign finance rules are altered during a recall. From the time a recall campaign is initiated until the GAB sets a date for the election, there are no limits on donations.[1] Normally, candidates can receive $1,000 from each individual and PAC, and up to $22,425 from special interests and political parties. However, the donations during this period can only be used for “legal fees and other expenses,” which includes political ads. All of the contributions above the regular limits must be spent before a recall election is set, with any unused money either returned to the donor or donated to charity.[2]

According to officials at the GAB, the next report due from committees, candidates and recall committees, is the July Continuing Report.[3] That document would cover all activity through June 30, 2011 and is due to GAB by July 20, 2011. That means, if the recalls do take place on either July 12 or July 19, that the financial activity of the organizations will go largely unknown until after the actual election has occurred.

Here are the following sums of campaign funds raised by the nine incumbents facing recall:

Campaign Finance Status of Recall Elections as of June 1, 2011
District Incumbent Total funds raised Cash on Hand
8 Alberta Darling $421,939.81 $219,730.51
30 Dave Hansen $127,437.34 $179,491.22
10 Sheila Harsdorf $110,166.80 $59,472.00
12 Jim Holperin $150,903.89 $75,319.92
18 Randy Hopper $131,446.60 $105,615.72
32 Dan Kapanke $180,309.84 $99,061.24
14 Luther Olsen $34,735.59 $34,527.26
22 Robert Wirch $50,964.95 $101,007.39
TOTAL $1,207,904.82 $874,225.26

Darling’s campaign has by far raised the most money. She will be facing state Assemblywoman Sandy Pasch (D) in what appears to be shaping up as an attention-grabbing battle for District 8 in the Milwaukee area.

The breakdown of contributions to Republicans vs. Democrats is as follows:

Three Democrats, Hansen, Holperin, and Wirch, have reported donations totaling $329,306.18 as of June 1, 2011.

Five Republicans have filed reports indicating a total raised of $878,598.64. One of the targeted GOP Senators, Cowles, has not yet filed any reports for the recall.

On average, each candidate has taken in $150,988.11 as of the first of June. After considering expenditures and beginning balances, the candidates collectively have $874,225.25 on hand, a number that averages out to $109,278.16.

Impact of PACs

PACs are already heavily involved in the races, donating a total of $237,150.62; $46,100.00 to Republicans and $191,050.62 to Democrats. Holperin (D) has benefited more than any other candidate from PACs, receiving $101,375.25 from 21 different committees.

In all, 45 PACs have made donations directly to affected candidates to support them in defeating the recalls. Every candidate facing a recall shows some support from PACs.

Over the coming weeks, we will be digging deeper into the campaign spending reports. In particular, we will be taking a closer look at money raised by challengers, as well as considering detailed breakdowns of the individual campaigns themselves.

2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls


Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timeline