Judge orders Walker to hold special elections

Judge orders Walker to hold special elections
© Greg Nash
A Wisconsin state judge has ordered Gov. Scott Walker (R) to call special elections in two legislative districts that have been vacant for months.
 
The order from Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds requires Walker to call special elections by next week in the two districts, which have been open since the incumbents left to take jobs in Walker's administration. Once the elections are called, they could take place as early as the spring.
 
Democrats, led by former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution Obama appears in new ad from Dem redistricting group MORE, said Walker’s refusal to call the elections denied citizens in those districts of their representatives in Madison. Walker’s lawyers argued he was under no obligation to call early elections because the vacancies happened in 2017, the year before the regularly scheduled election.
 
“Despite liberal rhetoric, [Wisconsin] law does not allow me to call a special election now until after 4/3/2018,” Walker tweeted earlier this month. “The state Legislature is done by then & nominations papers for fall elections are out on 4/15/2018. Ex of liberal misinformation campaign.” 
 
Reynolds, who was appointed by Walker, rejected that argument. State law requires the governor to call an election to fill a vacancy that occurs before the second Tuesday in May of an election year.
 
“This is an important victory for the impacted citizens of Wisconsin who have gone without representation because of Governor Walker’s refusal to call special elections,” Holder said in a statement Thursday. “One of our most basic rights as American citizens is that we get to vote and have representation in our legislatures. Governor Walker’s actions have undermined that right and it never should have taken legal action to force him to do his job.” 
 
Walker’s team did not immediately say whether they would challenge the ruling.
 
The ruling sets up two more special legislative elections in a state where one formerly Republican-held state Senate seat has already fallen into Democratic hands.
 
 
One of the two districts, an open state Senate seat south of Green Bay, gave President Trump an 18-point margin in 2016, nearly identical to the seat Democrats captured earlier this year.
 
The other, an open Assembly district north of Madison, gave Trump a 14-point margin.
 
Republicans assailed the lawsuit, brought by the National Democratic Redistricting Trust on behalf of voters in both districts, as an attempt to rig the electoral system on Democrats’ behalf.
 
“After a decade of losing nearly 1000 state legislative seats to Republicans, on lines largely drawn by Democrats, Eric Holder is frantically trying to repair Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama in Kenya for launch of sister’s sports center Get ready for summit with no agenda and calculated risks US envoy to Russia: 'Highly unlikely' that Trump will recognize Russia annexation of Crimea MORE’s down-ballot losing legacy,” said Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, when the suit was filed last month.
 
Holder traveled to Wisconsin earlier this month to campaign for a Milwaukee County judge who is running for an open state Supreme Court seat.