Dan O’Donnell reports that the Governor’s dishonesty about when he can schedule a special election has once again revealed his utter incompetence.@DanODonnellShow - In his desperation to avoid holding a special election on the date of the Spring Election, Evers spun a web of deceit in which he now finds himself tangled #WI7 #WIRight #BaldFaceLie Click To Tweet Either Evers can admit that he lied about when state law required him to hold that special election or he can admit that his Administration was too incompetent to read applicable federal law #WI7 #WIRight #BaldFaceLie Click To Tweet
October 2, 2019
Special Guest Perspective by Dan O’Donnell
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” wrote 16th century poet Sir Walter Scott in a famous verse often erroneously attributed to William Shakespeare, “when first we practice to deceive.”
It might as well be credited to Governor Evers, because he has over the past two weeks discovered its timeless truth. In his desperation to avoid holding a special election to replace the now-retired Sean Duffy in the 7th Congressional District on the date of the Spring Election, Evers spun a web of deceit in which he now finds himself tangled.
Either he can admit that he lied about when state law required him to hold that special election or he can admit that his Administration was too incompetent to read applicable federal law before issuing his executive order.
One might imagine that neither is especially appealing.
When Duffy officially resigned his seat on September 23rd, Evers issued the head-scratching order to hold a special election for the seat on Monday, January 21st instead of the more logical Tuesday, January 22nd.
State law, his office told WisPolitics.com, dictated that the earliest the primary election could be was Tuesday, December 24th. Since Evers didn’t want to hold a primary on Christmas Eve (or New Year’s Eve the following Tuesday), he had no choice but to move the election to Monday, December 30th.
Naturally, he didn’t realize that this date marks the final night of Hanukkah (and the fifth day of Kwanzaa), and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos “respectfully demanded” that the primary be moved.
“It is unnecessary to require Wisconsinites to exercise their civic duty to vote on a day they have set aside for a religious purpose,” Vos wrote in a letter to Evers on Friday. “Our Constitution allows us to freely practice a religion if we so choose and as public servants, we must treat people of all faiths with the same dignity and respect.”
Evers did not publicly respond to this, but on Monday was forced to confront an even more pressing challenge to his planned special election—a federal law requiring 45 days before a federal election for military and overseas voters to receive and return their ballots.
Since the congressional race is a federal election, the primary would need to be 45 days before the general. Moreover, state law provides that no special election can occur after February 1st unless it coincides with the Spring Election (held next year on April 7th).
Evers wanted to avoid a special election in the heavily Republican 7th Congressional District on the date of the Spring Election because it would provide a draw to the polls for conservative voters who might otherwise stay home.
After all, the Spring Election will feature Wisconsin’s presidential primary and since the Democratic Party has a wide open primary while President Trump doesn’t have a serious Republican challenger, conventional wisdom assumes that there will be significantly higher Democrat turnout.
This would tend to buoy the chances of liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone as they try to unseat incumbent conservative justice Dan Kelly.
Assuming Kelly advances out of the primary on February 18th, either Karofsky or Fallone would have a significant inherent advantage against him in the general election because they will presumably have hundreds of thousands more Democrats than Republicans at the polls for the presidential primary.
Does he admit that all of his sanctimony was disingenuous and order the special election on May 5th, or does he stick to his supposed convictions and schedule the election for April 7th even though it might hurt him politically in the Supreme Court race?
That advantage would be somewhat muted, however, if 26 of the most conservative of Wisconsin’s 72 counties had a special congressional election in which to vote as well. Their votes might just be enough to counterbalance the expected overwhelming turnout in the heavily Democratic Milwaukee and Dane Counties and put Kelly over the top.
Evers couldn’t allow that, but he also couldn’t be seen as so Machiavellian in his political scheming, so he came up with a nonsensical reason that he just couldn’t hold the special election on April 7th: The constituents of the 7th Congressional District would be unrepresented in the House of Representatives for far too long—six months instead of four.
Those two extra months meant so much to Evers that he is now considering holding the special election on May 5th just so that he won’t have to hold it on April 7th. The Evers Administration has already demonstrated that it doesn’t examine the calendar closely enough to notice Jewish holidays, and now it’s apparently conveying that it doesn’t know that seven months is a longer time for residents of the 7th Congressional District to be unrepresented than is six months.
Of course, Evers actually does know this, but his lack of knowledge of federal law has revealed his dishonesty. Now that he is required to hold the special election on April 7th at the earliest, he is looking for a later date just so that his preferred candidate in the Supreme Court race can maintain a massive voter turnout advantage.
He never cared about residents going unrepresented at all; that was just the web he spun. Now, though, karma has tangled it and Evers is caught. Does he admit that all of his sanctimony was disingenuous and order the special election on May 5th, or does he stick to his supposed convictions and schedule the election for April 7th even though it might hurt him politically in the Supreme Court race?
One might venture a guess that he will weave a new excuse to avoid the latter at all costs.
Dan O’Donnell’s column appears every Wednesday at MacIverInstitute.com. You can also listen to The Dan O’Donnell show every morning 9-11am on News/Talk 1130AM WISN and 1310AM WIBA.