Wisconsin Republicans spoil Democrats’ recall fun.

There is an interesting thing about the Wisconsin recall process.  Essentially, if you read the document regulating it you will discover that the designation of a particular date for a recall election assumes that there was no primary; if there is a primary, it occurs on that date, with the general election taking place a month afterward.  Also of note… political parties do not have veto power over who can participate in a recall primary.  The restrictions are that the candidate be a non-felon voter and resident of Wisconsin who presents a valid petition with at least 400 signatures; said signatures have to be themselves registered voters of the district in which the candidate is running.  The kicker?  None of these people have to belong to the political party in question.

I hope that you can see where this is going.

Republicans have found a spoiler candidate to challenge Rep. Jennifer Shilling in this summer’s recall election, which would force a Democratic primary and extend the campaign by nearly a month.

James Smith, until recently a member of the La Crosse County GOP’s executive committee, says he is running as a protest candidate.

Believe you me, the Wisconsin Republican party is going to be able to find four hundred voters per incumbent state Senate District who will be willing to ruin the Democrats’ day by forcing a primary. The only restriction on these voters would be that they can’t sign anybody else’s nominating petition – which doesn’t matter in GOP-held districts; the incumbent automatically is on the ballot – and since the system was deliberately set up so that the major parties couldn’t interfere with it too much*, court challenges will be… tricky.  So, barring further developments, it looks like the recall elections will be delayed until August.

Which is of course the goal.  The longer this process goes on, the harder it gets for Democrats to artificially stimulate the necessary outrage and resentment necessary for a successful recall effort.  Already the vaunted faux-populist revolt in Madison has shriveled to a fragment of itself; sure, the Democrats can later try to re-inflate that particular balloon, but there’s always been a severe upper limit to how much popular support the Left can demonstrate on the issues.  Personally, I’d recommend that the Democrats just dropped the recall subject entirely, but that’s because I’m kind of sadistic and I know what progressives would do to them for doing that (particularly after the Left fell on its face with Kloppenburg’s supreme court non-election).

All in all: live by manipulation of governmental procedures, die by them.  The Democrats have no room to complain about their enemies using a procedural maneuver against them… although they will complain, of course.  They’re good at that.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Think about it for a moment and you’ll realize why.

5 thoughts on “Wisconsin Republicans spoil Democrats’ recall fun.”

  1. From a distance, the unrest in Wisconsin feels a lot more real than the faux populism we’ve seen elsewhere. I think this particular effort has left a mark on Walker. This hasn’t been a “Hey, we like that!” thing like Chris Christie in NJ. Not yet, anyway.

    I suspect that — as you imply — the balloon will re-inflate quickly. I think the Democrats have successfully convinced the public that the Republicans are stomping on Samuel Gompers’ grave here. People don’t like that.

  2. I assume that the Democrats will respond with spoiler candidates on the Republican side as well – otherwise then all the Republicans could go vote in the Dem primary, and potentially cause the final matchup to be between the spoiler candidate and the one being recalled.

    At which point it becomes a fairly interesting game theory problem as to which primary it’s optimal to vote in.

    1. That’s the beauty of this gambit, Skip: if the Democrats put in spoilers, the Republicans just shrug; they aren’t harmed by a delay of the election itself, and Operation Chaos-style voters are frankly more often heard of than actually seen. Those four hundred signatories per district don’t even have to come to the polls and vote in the primary for the election to be delayed.

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