Cost, meaning of special elections fully Gov. Walker's responsibility

Judge considering request to delay special elections order

Scott Walker created a crisis in Wisconsin by appointing two Republican state legislators to posts in his administration last December and then refusing to call special elections to fill the vacancies. The Republican leaders of the state legislature also dropped plans to convene a special session to change Wisconsin law and cancel the elections. Reilly issued the one-page ruling hours after the DOJ appealed two Dane County judges' decisions ordering Walker to call the special elections.

"The Governor understands he has an obligation to follow the law as do we", wrote District 2 Court of Appeals Judge Paul F. Reilly.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess ruled against the Governor.

A Madison judge last week ordered Walker to schedule the contests by Thursday, and an appeals court judge refused Walker's request to delay the order. On Wednesday, Walker appealed to a state Appeals Court in Waukesha.

Even if Democrats won both seats, Republicans would maintain a firm grip on power in Madison, where the GOP controls 18 of 33 state Senate seats and 63 of 99 state Assembly seats.

When media outlets, public-interest groups and Democrats in the legislature objected to Walker's plan to leave nearly 250,000 Wisconsinites unrepresented for the better part of a year - and suggested, quite appropriately, that he was blocking elections in which his Republican allies might face defeat - the governor dismissed the complaints.

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"A D.C. -based special interest group is forcing taxpayers to pay for special elections for seats that will be filled again in just a few short months", she said.

Moments after Walker's announcement, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told WTMJ-AM radio in Milwaukee that senators would not pass a bill in extraordinary session next week that would rewrite special election laws. Though now, Vos says the legislature will change the law in order to overrule the court.

Walker and the Legislature are moving quickly to change the law to disallow the governor from calling any special elections after the April 3 primary, thereby circumventing the judge's original order.

Fitzgerald said people would still be represented, noting that Assembly and Senate districts overlap.

Democrats have sharply criticized Walker's decision not to call special elections. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, and Rep. Keith Ripp, of Lodi. "The election could have been scheduled for the spring election and there would have been none of this confusion you're talking about". They must file the papers with the state Elections Commission by 5 p.m. on April 17.

Walker went back to court to ask for more time to postpone holding the elections, but two different courts ruled he was constitutionally required to schedule them. Walker has said the special elections would be a waste of taxpayer money with the seats coming up for election in the fall. And earlier this month, Democrat Conor Lamb, captured what been a reliably Republican congressional seat in Pennsylvania. The most recent special elections this January saw a traditionally Republican Senate District flip 'blue'.

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