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Stories about Wisconsin

Candidate filing deadline in Dane County, Wisconsin, is Jan. 5, 2021

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Dane County, Wisconsin, is on January 5, 2021. Prospective candidates may file for county executive, two of the 37 county supervisor seats, and seven circuit court judgeships. The offices of county executive and circuit court judges are up for regular election in 2021, but the county supervisor seats for District 4 and District 12 are up for special election due to vacancies on the board.

The primary is scheduled for February 16, and the general election is scheduled for April 6, 2021.

Dane County in Wisconsin had a population of 531,273 in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau. 

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Wisconsin State Senate District 13 special election set for Apr. 6, 2021

Election officials have scheduled a special election for the District 13 seat in the Wisconsin State Senate on Apr. 6, 2021. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he will resign on Jan. 1 before he is sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3. Fitzgerald was elected to Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District on Nov. 3. The primary is on Feb. 16, and the filing deadline is on Jan. 8.



John Nygren resigns from Wisconsin State Assembly

Rep. John Nygren (R) resigned from the Wisconsin State Assembly on Dec. 2 to pursue work in the private sector. He represented District 89 from 2007 to 2020. 

During the 2019-2020 legislative session, Nygren served on Employment Relations Committee, Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Joint Finance Committee, Joint Legislative Council Committee, Audit Committee, Employment Relations Committee, Finance Committee, and Substance Abuse and Prevention Committees. He was the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee and chair of the Finance Committee. 

Nygren ran for re-election on Nov. 3 against Democratic candidate Karl Jaeger. Nygren was re-elected by a margin of 68.7% to 31.2%. Gov. Tony Evers (D) will call a special election to fill Nygren’s now-vacant seat. 

As of Dec. 8, there have been 121 state legislative vacancies in 40 states this year. Ninety-five of those vacancies have been filled, with 26 vacancies remaining. Nygren’s vacancy is one of 67 Republican vacancies to have occurred in 2020. So far, 48 vacancies have been filled by Republicans, while 47 have been filled by Democrats.  

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Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) wins Wisconsin

As of Nov. 4, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the presidential election in Wisconsin. As of 4:00 p.m. E.T., 99% of the popular vote had been tabulated in the state, with Biden receiving 49.4% of the vote and former President Donald Trump (R) receiving 48.8% of the vote. Wisconsin is worth 10 electoral votes.

In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin with 47.2% of the vote, beating Hillary Clinton (D) by a margin of .7%.

Wisconsin favored Democratic presidential candidates in the four elections between 2000 and 2012, then voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Between 1900 and 2016, Wisconsin supported Republicans candidates in 50 percent of presidential elections and Democratic candidates in 47 percent.

There were 23 counties in Wisconsin that voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. These counties accounted for 17.35% of Wisconsin’s population.



Effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers fails to collect enough signatures

The chief organizer behind an effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) told supporters on Monday that the effort had failed to collect enough signatures to require a recall election.

Chief organizer Misty Polewczynski wrote in a Facebook post about the failed recall effort on October 26, “It is with a heavy heart we announce that after proofing and what came in over the weekend we have fallen short. We do not have enough signatures to turn in.”

Supporters of the recall effort had until Oct. 27 to submit 668,327 signatures to require a recall election. Polewczynski also filed a recall effort against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D).

Polewczynski’s announcement came a little over a week after she told the Racine Journal Times that supporters had collected more than 620,000 signatures. At that time, the Wisconsin State Journal cast doubt on her claim after she posted on Facebook that she would be lying to the media about the recall effort. She said,

“I’m going to do an interview this afternoon and will probably make up some crap to tell them,” Polewczynski said in a Facebook post. “I like when they look dumb. Plus they drug my name through the mud.”

Polewczynski started the recall efforts against Evers and Barnes in August. Both recall petitions criticized Wisconsin’s governor and the lieutenant governor over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic and over the violence and protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August.

Wisconsin is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Wisconsin State Senate by an 18-13 margin with two vacancies and the Wisconsin State Assembly by a 63-34 margin with two vacancies. Evers was elected as Wisconsin’s governor in 2018 with 49.5% of the vote.

Sixteen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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Signatures due next week in recall efforts against Wisconsin governor, lieutenant governor

Supporters of the efforts to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) have until October 27 to submit 668,327 signatures for each of the petitions to require a recall election. Both recall efforts are being organized by Misty Polewczynski.

Polewczynski told the Racine Journal Times on October 15 that supporters had collected more than 620,000 signatures. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, statements made by Polewczynski in a Facebook post that has since been removed, cast doubt on her claim on the number of signatures that have been collected. When asked about the number of signatures that she provided to the media, she said in the social media post, “I would not pay attention to that number given to them! Sometimes any press is better than no press.”

Polewczynski began the recall efforts against Evers and Barnes in August. Both recall petitions criticize Wisconsin’s governor and lieutenant governor over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic and over the violence and protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Courtney Beyer, the spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said about the recall efforts, “Trying to recall a governor with a 57% job approval rating in the midst of a global pandemic and civil unrest is irresponsible and absurd.”

Conservative commentator James Wigderson wrote in August about the governor recall, “…recalling Evers should not be attempted because it’s the wrong thing to do.” He went on to say, “One of the reasons Republicans were so successful in fighting the recall elections after Act 10 is that the public correctly perceived that it was an attempt to undo the previous election. Republicans made the case that recalls should only be used in very limited circumstances to get rid of politicians who were corrupt and using the office for their benefit.”

Wisconsin is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by an 18-13 margin with two vacancies and the state House by a 63-34 margin with two vacancies. Evers was elected as Wisconsin’s governor in 2018 with 49.5% of the vote. Barnes ran on a joint ticket with Evers in the election.

Seventeen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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Two Wisconsin school board members named in recall petition after voting to continue virtual learning

An effort to recall Robert Hesselbein and Minza Karim from their positions on the Middleton-Cross Plains School District Board of Education in Wisconsin began in October 2020. The effort started after the board voted 5-4 on September 28, 2020, to keep students in virtual learning for the rest of the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other option, which did not pass, would have allowed students in pre-school through second grade to return to in-person instruction starting on November 2, 2020. Hesselbein and Karim were two of the five members who voted in favor of continuing virtual learning. 

The recall effort was started by the group Parents for Change. Angela Rachidi, an organizer of the group, said that the board members’ votes to continue virtual learning did not represent the wants and needs of the community. She also said that virtual learning did not support an equitable education. 

Both Hesselbein and Karim both said they stood by their votes. Hesselbein said that though he understood families’ frustrations, safety had to come first while COVID-19 cases were rising in the county and the state. Karim said she voted to keep schooling virtual “for the sake of safety and health for the students, staff and the entire community.”

The Middleton-Cross Plains Board of Education has nine members. Hesselbein is one of the four Area IV representatives of the board, and Karim is the Area III representative of the board. Both of them have terms ending in 2022. 

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect approximately 5,000 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures is equal to 25% of the votes cast for governor in the school district in the 2018 election.

Hesselbein and Karim are not the only school board members included in a recall effort in Wisconsin this year. An effort to recall three of the seven members of the Appleton Area School District Board of Education began in September 2020. That effort also centers around the board’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Frostman resigns as Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce Development

Caleb Frostman resigned as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) on September 18 at the request of Gov. Tony Evers (D). Evers said he requested Frostman’s resignation due to the long wait times Wisconsin residents experienced for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, Evers said, “people across our state are struggling to make ends meet, and it is unacceptable that Wisconsinites continue to wait for the support they need during these challenging times.”

Amy Pechacek will replace Frostman on an interim basis. Pechacek has served as deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections since 2019.

Frostman is a former Democratic member of the Wisconsin state Senate. He was first elected to the legislature in a June 2018 special election to succeed Frank Lasee (R). Gov. Evers first appointed Frostman to lead the Department of Workforce Development in January 2019.

According to its website, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s responsibilities include providing job services and training, working with employers to fill job openings, and providing assistance to those looking for employment. The secretary of the DWD is a state executive position nominated by the governor and is subject to confirmation by the Wisconsin State Senate.

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U.S. Senate confirms two U.S. District Court nominees

The U.S. Senate confirmed Christy Wiegand to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and Brett Ludwig to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The Western District of Pennsylvania and the Eastern District of Wisconsin are two of 94 U.S. District Courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal courts.

After Wiegand receives her federal judicial commission and takes her judicial oath, the court will have eight Republican-appointed judges and two Democrat-appointed judges. Wiegand will join seven other judges appointed by President Trump.

After Ludwig receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have two Republican-appointed judges and two Democrat-appointed judges. Ludwig will be the first judge appointed by President Trump to join the court.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 205 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 53 appellate court judges, 148 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017.

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