Wisconsin Judge Orders Special Elections

On Thursday, a Wisconsin judge ordered Governor Scott Walker to schedule special elections for a pair of legislative seats that the governor has refused to schedule since the end of last year.

Due to Walker’s refusal to schedule the elections, Democrats in the state had sued the governor. They also indicated that governor was delaying the elections because he was afraid that Republicans would lose them.

Josann Reynolds, who is a Dane County Circuit Court Judge and an appointee of Governor Walker, told the governor that he must schedule an election within the week. Though the governor is expected to appeal the order. Amy Hasenberg, who is the governor’s spokesperson, said that the governor was presently conferring with state attorneys to determine what actions they will take next.

The two seats in dispute concern one in the state senate and another in the state assembly. They both became vacant in December of last year when both office holders took positions in the Walker administration. The governor has insisted that the two seats should not be filled in special elections, but that they instead should be filled during the normal November 2018 elections. The winners of those elections would then be seated in January of next year.

The governor stated that he had no legal obligation to hold special elections, and that by not holding them he was actually saving the taxpayers money. But Democrats believe that he was more motivated by the fact that a Democrat won a special legislative election this past January in a heavily Republican district that overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016. Governor Walker himself called the outcome of that election a wake up call.

According to Wisconsin law, if a seat vacancy occurs before May 1 during an election election year, a special election must be called. But Walker believes that this does not apply in this case because the vacancies occurred last year, which was not an election year.