Court rejects Wisconsin GOP appeal to halt special elections

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Wednesday turned down Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) request for a weeklong extension to call two state legislative special elections as Republicans race to change the law.

Walker has avoided calling special elections in two state legislative seats formerly held by Republicans who quit to take jobs in his administration.

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Both districts went heavily for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE in 2016, but Democrats recently won an equally red district in a special election, worrying Republicans who are intent on maintaining control of the Wisconsin legislature.

Last week, a Dane County judge appointed by Walker ruled the governor had to call special elections to fill those vacancies. Judge Josann Reynolds gave Walker until Thursday to issue a formal call in both districts.

But Walker and state Republicans tried a move that would have rendered Reynolds’s decision moot: Legislative leaders, with Walker’s support, began preparing for a special session to change state election law so they would not have to hold those special elections.

Republicans have said that there is no point in holding new elections in the two districts, one a state Senate seat south of Green Bay and one an Assembly seat north of Madison. The legislature has adjourned for the year, and it is not scheduled to meet again until after November’s elections, when new legislators would be chosen anyway.

Walker said holding the elections were “unnecessary” and a waste of taxpayer money.

Walker asked Reynolds to give him until April 6 to call the elections — effectively giving the legislature time to reconvene and change the rules. Reynolds denied his request. Walker’s office appealed, leading to Wednesday’s ruling.

The Court of Appeals issued a stinging rebuke to Walker, ordering him to follow Reynolds’s initial ruling.

“Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources,’” the court wrote in turning down Walker’s appeal.

Democrats, who had sued to force Walker to call the special elections, celebrated the ruling and jabbed at the governor for dragging his feet.

“Walker will do nearly anything to prevent voters from having representation,” Democratic attorney Marc Elias, whose firm represented the plaintiffs seeking to force the new elections, said on Twitter.

Walker himself is up for reelection in November. He will face the winner of a jam-packed Democratic primary in which at least 17 candidates are already running. The primary is Aug. 14.