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Drama grows around recalls

By Matt Pommer

Wisconsin’s recall fight has more twists and turns than the best soap opera.

Efforts are under way to subject Gov. Scott Walker and four GOP state senators to recall elections in spring.

Targeted Republican senators include Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Van Wanggaard of Racine, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Pam Galloway of Wausau.

The GOP-controlled Legislature has created two legislative districts that favor Republicans.

If the senators end up facing recall votes, Republicans want to use the new legislative districts. Democrats want the elections to be held on the district lines used for the 2010 election.

One of the soap-opera issues is which court will decide the districts. Republicans thought they had a winning hand because the state Supreme Court has a 4-3 conservative majority.

Alas, one of their four votes was David Prosser. Citing health reasons, he recused himself from participating in the decision.

Then Republicans moved to have a Waukesha County court initially settle the issue. That’s called “court-shopping.”

Waukesha is the state’s most Republican county, and its judges probably know full well what is expected of them in a partisan fight.

Another element in the soap opera is the case in federal court in which a three-judge panel is reviewing whether the GOP-passed legislative redistricting plan is constitutional.

Democrats argue the new maps would mean 300,000 Wisconsin citizens would be without a state Senate vote for six years.

Republicans remain confident about federal court success. Legislators enjoy immunity from getting involved. But the federal court has approved letting lawyers challenging the GOP plan take legal depositions from key advisors to the reapportionment move.

Part of the soap opera is that the spring elections will be the first under the new Wisconsin law that requires voters provide photo identification. That in itself is controversial.

Republicans contended photo IDs are needed to prevent voter fraud. Democrats argued the new law is an attempt to make it harder for the disabled, poor and student voters to cast ballots.

An offshoot of this issue is whether those who attend the state’s vocational and technical colleges should be treated the same way as students attending University of Wisconsin System campuses. Many of the UW institutions are providing IDs that will enact voting.

Republican legislators have directed the Government Accountability Board to draft prospective rules for students in the Wisconsin Technical College System. Under a new law passed by the Legislature earlier this year, the governor must approve administrative rules.

The power may have drawbacks. If Walker decides for different treatments, it could anger vocational school campuses.

Meanwhile, Walker has been busy getting ready for his own potential recall election.

Matt Pommer worked as reporter in Madison for 35 years. He comments on state political and policy issues.

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