Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday finally called for two special elections to fill vacancies in the state’s Senate and Assembly, after declining to do so when they opened in December.
And then he got extremely mad online.
The two seats were previously held by Republicans but have been left empty after they joined Walker’s administration. Republican efforts to halt the elections were stymied Wednesday when the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued a stern ruling calling for the elections to take place.
Walker had previously contended that the elections would be a waste of taxpayer money as there would be elections in November anyway and the Assembly is adjourned for the year.
District 2 Court of Appeals Judge Paul Reilly became the third judge in a single week to rule against Walker's efforts to halt the elections.
“Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources,’ and the calling of the special elections are, as the governor acknowledges, his ‘obligation,’” he wrote in a rebuke to the governor.
Republicans in the state legislature sought to get a bill passed that would cancel the necessity of special elections but that, too, will not happen now. Walker was informed earlier this week by Circuit Judge Richard Niess that he would have until Thursday to call these elections and turned down a request from the governor to put that requirement off for a week so that the legislature could pass the bill.
“It is certainly the Legislature’s prerogative to change the law, but until they do, it is the obligation of this court to enforce the law, and the law right now in this state under that statute and by order of this court is that this election shall be held as promptly as possible and that it should be ordered no later than Thursday at noon,” Niess said according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
So on Thursday, Walker relented and ordered special elections for the First Senate District and the 42nd Assembly District for June 12.
The governor then lashed out on Twitter, saying: “Eric Holder and the other liberals from Washington, D.C. are using the situation in Wisconsin to raise money for their battles in the fall.”
He also said that Holder was using the opportunity to “win elections for governor with the hopes that they can use redistricting to permanently change the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives and put Nancy Pelosi back in charge as speaker.”
Holder’s group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, had filed a lawsuit demanding that the elections take place.
The seats, which both went heavily for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, are potentially liable to flip given the nation's current climate and a stunning special election result in Wisconsin earlier this year. In that race, for Wisconsin's Senate District 10, Democrat Patty Schachtner won the seat which had been held by Republicans since 2000 and where Trump had won by 17 points.
“Having lost in court three times, Governor Walker has accepted that he must follow the law and call the special elections,” Democratic attorney Marc Elias told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The voters of Wisconsin have the right to have full representation in the statehouse.”