Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interesting polling question from a reader

Why haven't the Republicans released internal polls? I have no idea, but here's his thoughts.

NYT on the impact of the recall in November

Well, at least I was ahead of this piece.

The real big winner of the Wisconsin recall

Yes, it is going to be those TV stations. No numbers in this article, but this recall must have been great for business.

Bill Clinton to campaign for Tom Barrett


Missouri: Columbia city councilman targeted in a recall

Columbia Councilman Fred Schmidt is facing petitions today, over his support for an economic development program that offers state tax credits and local tax abatement to businesses that expand their operations within the borders of a designated zone.

Schmidt is also being targeted for his backing of a parking garage and his vote in favor of downtown surveillance cameras.

Petitioners need 30% of turnout. The last election saw about 1,000 votes cast in a four-way race. Note that Mitch Richards, Keep Columbia Free's treasurer, came in second, though they claim he's not running for the seat.

My interview on Lake Effect


My op-ed in Politico on The Recall Boomerang

Here's my op-ed in Politico on the possible dangers of a recall for Democrats. I actually wrote about this last August.

I have to say, I frequently use op-eds as thought experiments, and this is definitely one of them. The part about voters retroactively switching their votes to the winner in post election polls is certainly out there, but I've been fascinated by that strange fact for sometime.

That being said, while I see the negative consequences for the Democrats in using the recall, if I had to bet, I would say that Wisconsin will not be a deciding state in November if Romney wins. I would guess that Obama will carry Wisconsin, unless he gets trounced nationwide (in which case, he probably loses the state).

There could also be negative consequences for the Senate race, which may be a very close battle. Again, I wouldn't bet the recall would be decisive months later, but you just don't know.

RNC Chair claims rampant voter fraud in advance of recall

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, backed up Scott Walker's claim of rampant voter fraud, arguing -- against all evidence -- that Republicans have to overcome a great voter fraud hurdle.
"I'm always concerned about voter fraud, you know, being from Kenosha, and quite frankly having lived through seeing some of it happen," Reince Priebus said. "Certainly in Milwaukee we have seen some of it, and I think it's been documented. Any notion that's not the case, it certainly is in Wisconsin. I'm always concerned about it, which is why I think we need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it."
There is no evidence to back any of this up. There is also no word on whether he is now going to actually propose some method of fighting absentee ballot fraud or deal with the allegations that the dead have risen and are voting Republican.

Note further that this type of allegation, while being used as an electoral tactic to drive up base turnout, destroys voter confidence in the system. Both sides have done it in the past, but it is wholly and totally despicable.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Michigan: Wayne County Executive facing another recall attempt

Petitioners will once again make an attempt at recalling embattled Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. They have previously failed to get a recall on the ballot. Petitioners need 140,000 signatures in 90 days.

Two very different polls show two very different results

One, by a Democratic pollster, has the race tied, 49-49%. The other, by Marquette College has Walker up 52-45% among likely voters (50-44 among registered). Kleefisch-Mitchell is 46-41 (44-38% among registered). Positive news for Democrats is that Obama is up 51-43 (52-40 among registered).

Marquette's last poll had the race 50-44.

Democratic Senate fundraising figures out

In the open seat, Republican state Rep. Jerry Petrowski raisedy $78,000 between April 24 and May 21. Democratic state Rep. Donna Seidel raised about $67,000.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's numbers aren't out, but Democratic challenger Lori Compas raised $93,000.

In rematch land, Democratic John Lehman brought in $70,000. Senator Van Wanggaard's numbers weren't out.

Rematch number two, Democrat Kristen Dexter got $84,000. Terry Moulton's numbers aren't out.

Wisconsin and the spread of recall in US

Here is an article in the International Business Times (which quotes me) discussing the spread of recalls in the US. As I mention in the piece, I don't expect recalls to slow down if Walker wins.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Maine: Senatorial candidate proponent of state recall

Maine does not have a recall law for state level officials.

Idaho: Petitioners claim signatures in recall of Coeur d'Alene Mayor and three council members

Petitioners are claiming that they have enough signatures to force recall elections against Coeur d'Alene Mayor Sandy Bloem, Councilmen Mike Kennedy and Woody McEvers, and Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander.

Petitioners need 4,300 signatures, and claim that they have 5,000. I've mentioned before that there is about a 15% failure rate, so this could be close (presumably, each one needs 4,300, so to have 5,000 each official could have a different number).

GAB predicts 60-65% turnout

The GAB is predicting turnout of between 60 to 65 percent of the voting age population (2.6 to 2.8 million). This would top the November 2010 gubentorial turnout (49.7%), though not as high as 2008 presidential (69.2%).

This would actually mimic California recall. The 2002 race that reelected Davis saw 7.7 million voters, the recall 9.4 million and the 2004 race 12.5 million (11.1 million in 2000).

In Wisconsin, the highest voter turnout for a gubernatorial election in the last 50 years occurred in November 1962, when 52.4 percent turned out to vote. Of course, once the voting age was lowered, turnout did drop, so factor that in.

Michigan: Governor Snyder recall ramping up efforts

Michigan Rising, the super PAC organizing the Recall Snyder campaign, has distributed more than 50,000 petitions in 57 of Michigan's 83 counties. The group is hoping that the Walker recall will provide a boost to their efforts. Petitioners need 807,000 signatures in 90 days (by comparison, Wisconsin needed 540K in 60 days, though the Wisconsin signatures are from eligible voters, not just registered voters)

This is following up an attempt to recall Snyder in 2011, where the group Michigan Citizens United collected 500,000.

Probably the biggest issue here is that removing Snyder might not help the Democrats (which probably limits the amount of money the recall proponents can raise). If Snyder is ousted, the Lieutenant Governor (a Republican) takes over, until a replacement vote is held months later. The Republicans would then give it their all in that replacement vote.

NYT Magazine on the recall

Here's the NYT Magazine article, with some focus on the Scott Fitzgerald recall. Note that the claimed violation of the open meeting law suggests to me that Fitzgerald could have been subject to a recall under a "judicial recall" or malfeasance standard. (I've seen the open meeting law regularly cited in judicial recall recalls).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Offline till Monday Night

Alas, I must be offline till Monday night (what timing, right during the debate). But, at least we get a crazy week until the Recall vote. Try not to vote anyone out of office in my absence.

Walker says Recall Law should be changed, Barrett disagrees

Here -- Barrett's point is one that I like to make. Walker was in favor of the recall in the past (he signed past petitions), but not now. If you are not consistent in the opposition, then you are not opposed to the recall. You're just not in favor of its use against your favored candidate.

Wisconsin Idea Put to the Test -- Reuters story on the Wisconsin's long history of Progressivism-Conservatism divide

Good piece looking at some of the long history of the Progressive and Conservative movements in the state. It does not include the little known history of Wisconsin's adoption of the recall, which we discuss in much greater depth here.

New Democratic poll shows Walker ahead 49-46%

This poll was commissioned by the Democratic Governors Association

Don't Tweet/Facebook Your Ballot law

Can't post pictures of your ballot on line -- of course I remember this was in the news in 2008, and I saw plenty of pcitures, but don't recall any prosecutions. I wonder how many prosecutors would race to take this case?

Interesting stat on 2010

This is from a reader on the Daily Kos -- apparently, the average polls in 2010 showed Walker up 9. He won by 5. Make of that what you will.

Walker attacks Barrett on crime stats

A new line of attacks trying to hit Barrett's tenure as mayor

New Jersey: More on the West New York Mayor arrested

Here. Petitioners needed 25% of turnout in 160 days. The arrested mayor Felix Roque led a failed recall effort against his predecessor. We've seen weird events, where recall organizers are using the recall to get elected to office (see the Pierce County Assessor Dale Washam).

The Shoe is on the other foot test

This is a good look at some of the underlying theoretical issues of the recall. I am quoted in here.

The LG race: Will Kleefisch be the big winner in the recall?

Here's an article on the possibility of a Governor/Lieutenant Governor split in Wisconsin. 

I believe Kleefisch is set to be one of the big beneficiaries of the recall. I've studied the Lieutenant Governors throughout the US (note the paper was written before the 2010 election), and there is a great difference between LGs who are elected on the same ticket versus those elected on a different ticket. The same ticket LG position is frequently a career-stopping dead-end. Not so for the split ticket one -- those officials go on to win major offices (Governor, Senator, Congress) at a much higher rate. 

There is an obvious reason for this -- they have shown success before the voters, and create an independent electoral machine to win voters. Also, since they do not serve at the pleasure of the Governor, they are more likely to stake out independent positions from the Governor and Legislature. 

Despite the comments of the last split ticket Governor quote below, I'm of the opinion that split ticket LG are a much better for effective government. They might not get along with the top guy? It might inhibit the Governor from resigning? Not out problem. 

What is our problem is that the candidate chosen is frequently enough completely unsuited for the possibility of stepping up to the top job (I'm thinking of some desultory picks in NY, I have no knowledge about the Wisconsin LGs). A separately elected LG is more likely to be vetted by voters and the media. And that's what we want.

How does the help Kleefisch? As a LG, she was relatively unknown in a very anonymous position. Now, she has gained much greater recognition and if she wins, has won race on her own (albeit swept up by the spending by Walker). While she hasn't created the independent machine, she has advanced in the public eye.

Two things to note here. There have been seven Lieutenant Governors (including Kleefisch) since Wisconsin changed the laws to provide a same ticket election for Governor/Lieutenant Governor. Of those six (exclusing Kleefisch), four of them never held or received their party's nomination for another major office (Governor, Senator, Congress). The other two stepped up to the Governorship after the resignation of the sitting governor (Martin Schreiber and Scott McCallum). Both of those men received their party's nomination in the next election, which they lost.

Here's some additional relevant points from the MJS article:
Following a 1967 constitutional amendment, contenders for the state's top two offices have been elected together on a single-party ticket. Because the governor and lieutenant governor must be recalled separately, however, the June 5 vote could result in the two jobs being held by members of different parties for the first time since 1965.
That was the year Democrat Patrick Lucey, who would later serve as governor, took the lieutenant governor's office under Republican governor and longtime friend Warren Knowles.
Now 94, Lucey said he and Knowles "got along fine." The way the lieutenant governor is selected changed "because it made no sense."

Walker outspending Barrett 3-1 on TV ads

The campaign spent over $7 million for TV buys from March 20 through Election Day, and $12 million overall.

Democratic Governors Association kicks in $1 million for recall campaign


Arizona: Third Yuma City Councilman facing recall threat

Yuma City Councilman Cody Beeson is the third councilmember to face a recall threat. Beeson iis criticized for failing to return (in a timely manner) unused funds he had been advanced for travel expenses on city business, and failing to properly file Campaign Finance reports; Petitioners need 1,856 signatures in 120 days.

The two outstanding recall petitions are against Councilmen Paul Johnson and Jerry Stuart, they have to be handed in on June 3, and petitoners claim they have 2000 signatures for each. Petitioners are called Recall Them All 2012.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Texas: Weatherford recall attempted stopped as term of office expired

The Weatherford City Secretary refused to accept recall petitions filed by a recently defeated city council candidate against two re-elected council members, as they were for an expired term of office.
Tawni Maughan, who ran against Mayor Pro Tem Waymon Hamilton in 2008 and 2012 and was defeated with 420 votes to Hamilton’s 853 votes May 12, was issued two petitions seeking a recall election for the re-elected Hamilton and Craig Swancy.
Maughan can refile for the new term, but not before Nov. 13.

Weatherford had two recalls in 2009, with incumbents losing in both votes.

An interesting quirk to Weatherford's law. Petitioners need 35% of turnout in 30 days for the recall (turnout was 1,318), and at least 10 percent of those signing the petition must certify that they voted for the council members proposed to be recalled.

Obama avoiding the Wisconsin recall

Here. I actually have an op-ed on this, which will hopefully run soon.

New Jersey: West NY mayor arrested for trying to hack into pro-recall website

West New York Mayor Felix Roque has been facing a recall threat. So, obviously, he and his son hacked into their website to find out who was plotting against him.

This was is a doozy. He cancelled the recall website, then made harassing calls to one of the recall supporters.

Roque is a Democrat who led a recall petition against former Mayor Sal Vega, then beat him in the city’s nonpartisan election on May 10. He is also a big supporter of Governor Chris Christie, so he plays both sides of the political aisle.

NYT/538's Nate Silver examines the Wisconsin race

For those of you not aware of his work, Silver is one of the absolute best out there. His conclusion (not hard after all the polls), is that Walker is likely to survive.

Is turnout really the key for the Walker recall?

Among the biggest talking points on the current state of the Walker recall is that turnout is key. This is pretty much true for any close election (does any close election loser not think to themselves, “if only I got some more supporters to the polls”?) but historically it is even more critical for recall elections. However, turnout may surprisingly be less important on June 5th.

Generally, fewer people may come out to vote in recall. Unlike a regularly scheduled election, you have to be motivated and want to show up to the ballot box (or get an absentee ballot) to vote on one specific election, usually a local official or a barely known state legislator. There are no people just casting ballot for the race because they were voting for a president, governor or senator. This is one of the reasons that recall proponents have an advantage, as they have spent months garnering supporters and signatures and are in perfect position to use their “machine” and anger to get out the vote (This is also why special elections can be a less-than-ideal democratic solution to a vacancy in office).

Let’s look at the some numbers from past important recalls. In 1995, three California Assembly members faced recalls. Each of these well-publicized elections drew from 25 percent to 35 percent of registered voters, well below the turnout for a general election. Similarly, the Michigan 1983 recalls saw a much smaller electorate. The 2003 Wisconsin Senate recall of Gary George saw only 8% turnout (in a primary in a low turnout district).  Even in some game-changing recalls, the turnout is low. Last year, Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall which took place on election day (albeit a true off year election). Election Day recalls should have higher turnout, and since Pearce was such a lightening rod, you might expect great turnout. Instead, 23,296 people voted, down from 31,023 who voted in the 2010 general election (when it was a safe seat).

Turnout in last year’s Wisconsin Senate recalls were much higher than most recalls, but I believe only one of the Senate seats saw turnout exceed the vote in 2010 (the Senates weren’t up that year, but Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel did a comparison that I used). So even there, turnout was not astonishing.

However, those aren’t the best comparisons. We have to look to Gray Davis. And the Davis recall saw much higher turnout than the 2002 election (9.4 million to 7.7 million). The same thing happened in a non-recall setting with the special election of Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (2.25 million to 2.16 million in 2006).

With this race, I would think it would be like Gray Davis or Scott Brown. It is not just getting your voters out (the people who aren’t going to come out to vote may just be the hardcore non-voters). The key here may be grabbing those undecideds. The polls seem to bear this out, with a small number of undecideds basically holding the balance of the race (though Walker does seem to be at 50% exactly in most polls). This may be why the narratives have changed so much, from talking about collective bargaining to jobs, and recently with the release of Barrett polls, showing that it is still race.

Turnout is always a popular issue for campaigns. When you think about it, turnout is one of the only tactics that they have real control over. No doubt it is important in this recall, but as opposed to other recalls in the past, it may not make the difference.

More Polls, with varying numbers

A Barrett poll released today shows Walker up two points, though another We Ask America poll shows Walker up 12.

Documentary on We Are Wisconsin


Walker maintains lead in two new polls

A Reason-Rupe poll has Walker at 50-42% (Reason is the libertarian magazine), the other poll by St. Norbert's College has him up 50-45%. So far, all polls have Walker up between 3 and 9%.

Interesting note in the Reason-Rupe poll, it has Obama leading 46-36%, with 6% of the vote going to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Arizona: Douglas Councilmember survives recall vote

Councilmember Mitch Lindemann apparently survived the recall vote, 141-113. Voter turnout of 17.97 percent.

Wisconsin: State Senate candidates debate

Here is the Fitzgerald and Compass debate

West Virginia: Keyser City Attorney reviewing mayoral recall petitions

The Keyser city attorney is reviewing petitions submitted for a recall of the mayor. Once again, the city code will soon be at issue thanks to this "loser pays" provision:

The city code also requires those who mount a recall election, but are unsuccessful in winning the ensuing election, to pay for the cost of mounting the election. With all city workers off for the day, an election costs about $10,000.
State officials, however, have since indicated that residents cannot be made to pay for a recall election, as it violates state law.

California: Petitions handed in against San Fernando Mayor, two council members

San Fernando Mayor Brenda Esqueda, Councilman Mario Hernandez and Councilwoman Maribel De La Torre are all facing a possible recall, after petitioners handed in 2800 signatures for each. They needed 2,029.

The recall was backed by the city's police union. The council members are accused of marital infidelity, and (likely more important) negotiating in bad faith with the police union, of supporting a former police chief alleged to have had an affair with a cadet, of attempting to illegally privatize fire services, and of financial mismanagement

The San Fernando Police Officers Association, which represents 26 sworn officers, gave $2,500 to support the recall committee between January and March, according to a financial disclosure report filed with the city. Another $6,000 flowed in from members of the city's Police Advisory Council, including $5,000 from a local contractor, Bernards Bros.
Three years ago, Councilman Jose Hernandez and the late Councilwoman Julie Ruelas lost their seats in a recall vote, with a total turnout of 1,463 voters, or 18 percent of the city's electorate.

At least 90,000 absentee ballots issued in Wisconsin

More than in the primary (68,000), though much less than in the 2010 election (230,000). They still have some time to request absentees.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Analysis of the Moulton v. Dexter Senate recall race

Here's a two articles providing good looks at the Senator Terry Moulton v. Kristen Dexter recall race. This is a quasi-rematch, as Moulton lost to Dexter in state assembly race in 2008 by less than 300 votes out of more than 30,000 votes cast. At the time, Moulton was a two-term Assemblyman. Dexter lost her seat in 2010.

Challenges of getting the youth vote out


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Colorado: Three Cherokee Metropolitan District Board members survive recall

Three Cherokee Metropolitan District Board members, Jan Cederberg, Dave Hammers and Bill Beahan, survived a recall vote on Tuesday.

Cederberg retained his seat, 631-509, Hammers 633-523 and Beahan 625-535.

Wisconsin: Strong early Absentee Ballot performance


Internal Democratic Poll shows Walker leading 50-47%

The poll shows Walker ahead 50-47%, with a four point margin of error. The title of the article says "dead heat" which seems very misleading (couldn't it also mean that Walker's up 54-43%?), but the poll certainly shows some better news for Barrett. It also claims that Barrett's leading among independents 50-44%.

Again, this poll could be perfectly fine, but it was put out by recall supporters (We Are Wisconsin) and run by a Democratic pollster, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. One other questionable moment in this poll is that the spokesman claims the other polls oversampled Republicans. If it were one poll, sure. But all three of them? 

Colorado: City Clerk to decide whether to hold Trindad City Council recall

The City Clerk validated 661 signatures, they needed 591 for the recall of City Councilman Al Pando. However, a group is claiming that there were multiple signatures by the same people, and it took longer than the 60 days allotted to collect the signatures.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Arizona: State adopts law limiting all elections, including recalls, to specified times

Arizona's Governor has signed into law the controversial HB 2826 law, that consolidates all local elections into even numbered years on set dates in March, May and November. This strictly limits how the recall will be used in the state, as the recall law already limits recalls to a mandated election date.

Scott Walker expresses concerns on voter fraud, claims need to win 53% of the vote, claims that voter fraud responsible for 1-2 points

This is from a long, pro-Walker piece by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard, which does a great job of painting the charged scene. Hayes notes that 3 in 10 Wisconsinites have ended relationships because of the recall. From a tactical point of view, I have to question the discussion on the Democrats ignoring collective bargaining. While it is definitely accurate, the race is now being fought over a small percentage of the undecided population. They probably don't care about collective bargaining issues, but can be persuaded on jobs and the John Doe corruption issue.

Not a great moment in math education here -- (first citing 53%, then 1-2% potentially), but, hey I've been there on an interview. However, I'm sorry if this offends your chosen political position, but the assertion on voter fraud would be flat out laughable if it wasn't another attempt (by both sides of the political spectrum) to cast aspersions on the political process:

Walker is concerned about the likelihood of voter fraud. The Wisconsin legislature passed, and he signed, a voter ID law to prevent such fraud. But a circuit court judge in Dane County issued an injunction blocking the law, so Wisconsin’s liberal voting laws will prevail on June 5. “I’ve always thought in this state, close elections, presidential elections, it means you probably have to win with at least 53 percent of the vote to account for fraud. One or two points, potentially.”

Alaska: 8 members of Wrangell Medical Center Board facing June 19 recall

Eight members of the Wrangell Medical Center Board of Directors are facing a recall vote on June 19 -- this is all but one of the board members.

The petition claims “misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties,” and charges that on Aug. 17, 2011, the board prohibited the Borough Assembly liaison from participating in an executive session. Since this is in Alaska, they probably needed to list cause. No idea if a judge ruled whether the cause was sufficient.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tune in, turnout

I'll have more to say on the turnout issue next week, but here's an article talking about it.

Wall Street Journal sees a bad moon rising on the recall

This article looks at the bad signs for the recall proponents. Hey, I saw this coming!

MJS's Dan Bice note the preponderence of huge bi-partisan impact of out-of-state money

Bice notes that in every gubernatorial elections since 1998, out-of-state donors provided between 9% and 15% of the total campaign cash collected by all candidates. The analysis was done by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The 2012 recall? 57% (though the group looked only at contributions of $100 or more received during the election year and the year immediately preceding the election). Falk raised 40% from out-of-state. Barrett only 12%. Walker has raised about two-thirds of his money out-of-state. And this doesn't even include the outside spending.

In 2010, Walker raised only 7% of his funds from out-of-state. His primary opponent Mark Neumann raised 25%, as had Democratic Governor Jum Doyle in 2006.

Michigan: Recalled State Rep Paul Scott not running for office this year

Paul Scott, who lost in a close recall election last November, has decided not to rerun for the office this time. His replacement (who was also a Republican) is running for reelection.

MJS' Craig Gilbert on Racine -- ground zero for the recall wars

Craig Gilbert notes that the 21st Senate district centered in Racine is the only one in the US to have forced two recall elections.

The district, which features the Legman v. Wanggaard recall rematch, has switched parties five times in 22 years, only reelecting Senators twice since 1990.

The article also provides a good look back at the 1996 George Petak recall, and its far reaching impact on both national and state politics.

Wisconsin: Some thoughts on the technology and the recall issue


Nigeria: Proposed recall of former President of the Court of Appeals

Don't know what is happening here.

Missouri: Columbia City Council members facing recall threats

Columbia City Council members are facing recall threats based on their vote (taking place tomorrow) to establish a new Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board. Petitioners need 30% of voter turnout.
The group, originally formed to oppose the installation of surveillance cameras downtown, said Friday it opposes the blight decree required by the Missouri Department of Economic Development for local governments to take part in the EEZ program, which provides local and state tax credits to businesses that expand their operations with the borders of an EEZ, and tax abatement programs in general.

Nebraska: Hayes Center School Board Member resigns after delaying recall vote

Hayes Center school board member Randy Richter resigned in the face of a battle to set up a recall vote. Petitioners handed in enough signatures to get on the ballot, but the board was deadlocked and could not set a special election date. This has been going on since at least February.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorses Walker

No idea of what the value of a newspaper's endorsement is anymore (I assume it matters more in a barely followed local race), but Walker snagged the Journal-Sentinel. Note that he also received their endorsement in the 2010 race versus Barrett.

Missouri: Ellisville Councilmember facing recall threat suggests he would vote to not fund special election

Another possible local scheduling a recall fight on the horizon. Ellisville City Councilmembers Troy Pieper and Dawn Anglin are facing recall petitions following their support for a Walmart construction using a tax increment financing district. Pieper is already suggesting that he may not vote to hold and fund a special election.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Walker profile in the AP: "not afraid to lose"


Arizona: Three Sedona Fire District Board Members kick out in recall

Three Sedona Fire District Board Members, Chairman David Blauert, Charles Christensen and Phyllis Erick, were tossed out in the fire district recall. The vote equaled 40% of the 12,174 registered voters.

Note that one of the new board members is the former Sedona Fire Chief, and now the current Chief of the Verde Valley Fire District, Nazih Hazime. Diane Schoen and Corrie Cooperman were also elected in the sweep.

West Virginia: More detail on the Keyser recall

Here and here. Sounds like there is a lot of issues between the mayor and city employees. The big questions on the "loser pays" law are waiting to be answered.

Wisconsin: Democrats start hammering John Doe ethics investigation

There's a logic to this line of attack -- recalling someone over ethical/criminal violations has proven to be basically unassailable. However, this tactic doesn't always work (it is not that unusual for an official to survive a recall under a cloud). For many voters, it may smack of desperation -- the recall was clearly not about John Doe, but instead about collective bargain/politics/policy.

Perhaps more troubling for the Democrats is that the John Doe investigation has not grabbed the voters attention at all, and as frequently happens with non-sexy (not just sex, but the official or associate's living a lavish lifestyle), hard -to-understand corruption issues are not necessarily fatal.

Michigan: 7 Parchment School Board members facing recall petition after Assisstant principal not immediately put on unpaid leave following 120 MPH drunken police chase

A recall petition against what appears to be seven Parchment school board members was approved. President Dale Pominville, Vice President Nancy Lenz, Secretary Deb Coates, Treasurer Rhonda Newman and Trustees Tim Lasher, Joel Shaffer and Rob Thayer, are all facing recall threats for the not pushing the superintendent to immediately remove from student interaction a Parchment Middle School assistant principal/athletic director after an arrest for leading police on a 5 mile/120mph car chase while DUI.

Petitioners need 750 signatures in a 90-day period.

Michigan: Troy mayoral recall on pace

The recall attempt against Troy Mayor Janice Daniels has one month to go, and the group claims its on target. They need 7,985 signatures and claim they are more than 2/3rd of the way there. They also said they have thrown out 3-4% of signatures -- first time I've seen anyone give a number on the signature vetting process pre-hand in. Also of interest:

Binkowski said the core group of more than 50 volunteers has shifted its focus slightly away from public areas like the library and community center in recent weeks, opting instead to canvass neighborhoods and go door to door looking for signatures.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

West Virginia: Recall petitions handed in against Keyser Mayor

A petition to recall Keyser Mayor Randy Amtower was handed with over 200 signatures, petitioners needed 100 signatures (20 percent) of turnout.

Keyser is the city with an unheard of "loser pays" recall law -- anyone who signs the petition would have to pay the costs of the recall (which is written in an insanely broad description of costs). According to one Keyser resident the Secretary of State's office advised that the city charter is in violation of West Virginia code, though that would be up to a judge to decided.

Op-ed in the Atlantic on the possible growth of the recall

I wrote this op-ed for the Atlantic. I've discussed these issues before, but hopefully this should give non-regular readers an idea of how the recall operates in other states and whether its use will expand to other governors.

Arizona: Quartzsite's recalled mayor wins back office

Ed Foster got tossed out in a recall last year, but he's come back in force. Foster defeated the person who beat him in the recall, reclaiming the seat.  Foster had 376 votes (56.9 percent) to 279 votes for Jerry Lukkasson (42.2 percent).

Wisconsin: Walker releases job figures

This one will be fought over endlessly for the next few weeks.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association backs Kleefisch

Of course, Mahlon Mitchell is a firefighter, and the head of the state's firefighting union.

Wisconsin law forces 3 day delay in mailing out absentee ballots

Another example of not thinking about the recall:

One state law says the ballots can start being sent 3 weeks before Election Day. But another law says they cannot go out until after the period for seeking recounts from the primaries – and that deadline’s not until Friday.
Normally, there’s a month-and-a-half between the primaries and a general election. But for recall elections, the state Constitution calls for a gap of 4 weeks. 

Wisconsin: Residency requirements impact recall vote

Here's another look at it, specifically in regards to students.

Wisconsin: Marquette Poll shows 50-44 Walker lead, Kleefisch up 47-41


Op-ed on recall in the LA Times

This is from an NYU professor. He's quite wrong about the history of the recall -- it was not about corruption per se, and of the seven pre-1981 state legislative recalls, only one (the first was for corruption). Of course, the three North Dakota 1921 recalls were not corruption-based either. His stats are not that great as well.

Wisconsin: Daily Kos/Public Policy Poll has Walker leading 49-45

Note that the LG race is 46-43 Kleefisch (with 11 undecided). First poll I've seen on that one. Also, the poll list the third party candidate, Hari Trivedi (getting 2%). In a two man race, most of that support goes to Barrett, though (of course) it is not a two man race.

This is a poll with a lot of different details on the recall races, so worth looking at.

Also, Public Policy Polling is generally affilated with Democrats, and Daily Kos is certainly pro-recall. For the more analytic-minded, PPP has some decent rankings on its polls, with a (very slight) Republican bias in 2010. So factor that in if you like. So far, all the polls have Walker leading.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Texas: Killeen Council meets for first time since recall


Wisconsin: Questions about Walker's campaign finance transfers to go unanswered until recall over


California: Examination of the Oakland recall

Excellent look at the history and use of the recall in Oakland by Oakland North's Monica Cruz-Rosas. Check it out if you want a full look back at the Mayor Jean Quan recall threat, though the story does not go into depth into the bizarre "ranked-choice" voting problem and guaranteed lawsuit if the recall does get on the ballot.

Wisconsin: GAB criticizes Verify the Recall standards


Wisconsin: Muskego group drops recall after Alderman resigns

Some follow-up from yesterday. Group is dropping its attempt to recall the resigning alderman.

California: Lassen County Supervisor recall fails due to collecting signatures to early

Weird recall failure here. An attempt to recall Lassen County District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson failed to gain enough signatures. Petitioners got 754 signatures, and needed only 568. However, three pages were circulated before the date the petition was “approved to form" and were approved on a rejected petition.

An additional 70 sections of the petition were also copied from the rejected petition. Only 143 signatures were allowed.

New Jersey: New Jersey Assemblyman proposes relaxing state's recall rules

I haven't seen the bill yet, but here's an article (and an editorial) on a proposal by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) to relax NJ's recall laws. The change would requite a constitutional convention.

The proposal would change the signature requirement from 25% of registered voters to 25% of voter turnout, and change the first day to launch a recall from 1 year in office to 90 days. .

Texas: Fredericksburg City Councilman loses recall election

Fredericksburg City Councilman Tommy Segner lost the recall election on Saturday. Segner also lost a race for Mayor on the same ballot. Segner faced the recall vote after being sued by the federal government over back taxes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Michigan: Three Oak Park officials facing recall petitions

Three Oak Park officials, Mayor Pro Tem Angela Diggs Jackson and Councilmen Emile Duplessis and Paul Levine,  are facing recall petitions. Petitioners need about 2,600 verified signatures in 90 days.

The petitioners cite a 25-year bond (sounds like it is for $9.7 million) for a new City Hall and public safety facilities  The city has a $3-million deficit and laid off 10 officers

Massachusetts: Recall attempt against two Mansfield selectmen dropped

The attempt to recall two Mansfield selectmen Kevin Moran and Jess Aptowitz has already been dropped.

Wisconsin: State Party furious at DNC for lack of help in recall race

Greg Sargent reports that the Wisconsin State Democrats are very upset with the DNC for not helping with the recall.

Wisconsin: Poll shows 52-43% Walker lead

This one is from the We Ask America. Note in the write-up, there is a claim that "Wisconsin’s loopy election laws make it comparatively easy to recall a governor," which is extremely inaccurate. Wisconsin does not have laws that make it comparatively easy to recall a governor.

Wisconsin: Group claims enough signatures to recall Muskego Alderman, who is resigning

The group claims enough signatures to force a recall of Alderman Keith Werner. It was also attempting to recall Alderman Neome Schaumberg and Kathy Chiaverotti (the mayor), but has "suspended" those efforts (there is no suspension in a recall -- you have to start over).

The issue was that the council allegedly ignored a petition containing over 3400 signatures demanding a vote on an issue facing the city.

Making this interesting, Werner has announced he intends to resign as of June 2nd, 2012, which is a week after the recall petition deadline. His resignation would result in the council filing the seat by appointment. So, they will still have a recall.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mchigan: Five Wheatland Township officials survive recalls

The five Wheatland Township elected officials, including Supervisor Tim Knox, Clerk Dawn Johnson, Treasurer Pamela Wonders, Trustees Mark Resiter and Dan Wonders, survived the recall held on Tuesday.

According to the Hillsdale Daily News (the story is not online, but I contact the editors and they sent it to me), the five officials survived by more than two-thirds of the vote.

Wisconsin: FAQ on the recall


Wisconsin: Assembly Speaker calls June 5th the " most important day in political history"

I've read a lot of hyperbole in this recall, but this one is going to be tough to beat. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald told the Republican state convention that“June 5 is the most important day in political history,” he said of the upcoming recall election.

Fitzgerald's brother, Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, is facing a recall, though according to polls, he is not really in danger of losing.

Texas: Forest Hills adopts two very unusual provisions for recall laws

Forest Hill, the source of yesterday's lawsuit, passed two ballot propositions, one designed to prevent ousted by recall council members from simply regaining the seat in the next election, and the other dealing with the problem of council members stopping verified recalls from getting to the ballot.

Both of these ballot laws are unusual. I have to look, but I can't think of another jurisdiction that has similar laws.

1) A council member who has been removed from office in a recall election shall not be eligible to run for city office or sit in an appointed city position for two calendar years from the date of the recall election.

Apparently, recalled council members would run in the next election and refill (or be appointed to the seat). There was a six month time limit on holding the office before.

2) Provide that failure of a Council member to vote affirmatively to place on the ballot a petition for recall that meets all requirements of law shall be guilty of malfeasance in office and subject to the penalties contained in Section 13.06, entitled “Violation of Charter Provisions or Laws of the State of Texas, of the Charter of the City of Forest Hill.”

Here's the relevant section:
Section 13.06. - Violation of Charter Provision or Laws of the State of Texas.

Any willful violation of the provisions of this Charter or of the laws of the State of Texas relating to home rule cities shall constitute malfeasance in office, and any officer or employee of the city guilty thereof shall immediately forfeit his office or position, and said office or position shall be deemed vacant.

So, failing to approve a recall election once the signatures have been verified (which happens in many other jurisdictions) results in automatically tossing the official out of office. From yesterday's story, it sounds like this was a big problem in Forest Hills. However, I wonder if this is constitutionally acceptable and if any other jurisdiction has such a law.

Wisconsin: Obama steps into the Recall

The campaign is sending out an email and working on registering voters in advance of the recall (though the registration seems to be a general election strategy).

Wisconsin: Look at the Fitzgerald v. Compas race

The article is titled "Senate recall challenge is giving "Fitz" fits" though I see no evidence that he is facing any troubling in winning this race. It is actually the outlier in this round of recalls, as Compas doesn't seem to have much of a chance of defeating him.

Texas: Jasper Mayor survives recall, two members who lost in recall in November lose again

Jasper Mayor Mike Lout survived a recall by a wide margin,  1,032-536 voters. This was part of the last year's big recall in Jasper, resulting in an interesting lawsuit, and two of three councilmembers kicked out of office.

In the same race, both of the recalled councilmembers tried to regain their seats, and both lost. Raymond Hopson defeated former councilman Willie Lee Land by a vote of 292 to 146 and Mitch McMillon defeated Terrya Norsworthy by a tally of 986 to 578.

California: Yorba Linda Councilman facing recall petitions over vote on police services contract

Yorba Linda Councilman John Anderson is facing a recall petition, with voters upset about a deal to contract police service functions with the Orange County Sheriff's Department (they turned down a deal with the city of Brea, which has patrolled Yorba Linda for 42 years).

Petitioners have 120 days to collect 8,700 signatures, representing 20 percent of the city's registered voters. If successful, the recall election would be on November's presidential ballot.

Wisconsin: Falk's big defeat leads to questions on union power

As we've discussed, very big defeat for the unions who were responsible for the recall. Barrett was not their chosen candidate, but he won by 24 percentage points. Here's a look at the bigger questions for unions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wisconsin: Controversy over Walker statements for a "divide and conquer" strategy against unions

Lots of controversy over a new documentary "As Goes Janesville," with video of Governor Scott Walker describing a "divide and conquer" strategy to use against the unions. The conversation was in answer to a question by one of his supporters, billionaire Diane Hendricks if he could make Wisconsin a "completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work" state.

"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker responded. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer. So for us the base we've got for that is the fact that we've got — budgetarily we can't afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there's no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out."
Note also:

Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation in 1993 as a freshman in the state Assembly, but he has declined to say whether he would sign or veto a right-to-work bill if the Legislature passed one. Right-to-work supporters believe it would give more freedom to workers and make it more attractive for companies to invest and hire employees. Opponents say it undermines unions and doesn't help the economy.

Wisconsin: Group suspends effort on recall of Democrats Senator

The attempt to recall Democratic Senator Bob Jauch has been suspended (which is a charitable way of saying cancelled). They do say that it could be resumed later this summer, though I would imagine that they would have to start from scratch and any signatures collected up till now won't count.

Texas: Forest Hills Secretary files suit over harassment claims in past recall verification process

A fight over recall petitions has led former City Secretary Grace Edwards to sue for wrongful termination. Edwards claims that she was harassed after she questioned signatures on recall petitions against a former mayor and council member.

In the case, Edwards questioned some of the signatures (over missing information or non-registered voters). Edwards eventually verified the petitions, but too late for the council to order a recall election for May 2010, and the council voted against holding another election in November of that year. The two targets lost their seats in May 2011.

It should be note that Edwards has filed cases against the council before. 

California: Santa Maria-Bonita School District Board member facing recall

Santa Maria-Bonita School District board member Will Smith, a former teacher who was suspended from his teaching position eight times, is facing recall petitions.

Petitioners need 20 percent of registered district voters, approximately 7,000 to 8,000,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Louisiana: Petitions taken out against two state representatives

Two state legislators, State Representatives Greg Cromer and Kevin Pearson are both facing recall petitions from high schools teachers opposed to their support for the Governor's education bills. One of the petitions was filed by Slidell City Councilman Jay Newcomb (a Republican, like Cromer and Pearson), who in his day job is a teacher at Slidell High School.

Louisana has arguably the hardest requirements to get on the ballot. They need signatures from one-third of the registered voters in each representative's district within 180 days.

California: Recalls being collected in San Fernando

Three council members are facing petitions.

California: Hercules's finances still in trouble after last year's recalls


Wisconsin: Walker raking in, and some history to the unlimited donation law

According to this article, while the window for unlimited donations for the recall closed on March 30, Walker has continued to collect -- more than $1 million. The article, by the Money and Politics Project, on how serious this is, or if it is more of an accounting issue.

Note that it discusses the origins of the unlimited donations law. It took place in 1987 and was backed by the state Elections Board, which deemed it "not significant."

At the time, the change was seen as helping state Sen. Gary George, a Democrat who racked up debt fighting a recall. It passed as part of that year's state budget, with bipartisan support, including from a Democratic assemblyman named Tom Barrett.

What that statement doesn't mention is that George did not end up facing a recall in 1987 (for his support of Ronald Reagan). However, he faced one in 2003, and was kicked out of office.

California: Recalled Shasta Lake Councilwoman's lawsuit tossed out


Walker got the most votes in a gubernatorial primary in 60 years

Here, though obviously the earlier number was more impressive, as there were many fewer voters.

Wisconsin: Polls shows Walker with 5 point lead

This poll shows Walker up by 5 points, 50-45. Note that this poll is from Ramussen, which has been seen leaning Republican in the past.

Texas: Irving City Councilwoman threatens legal action for recall campaign

I guess it means suing for libel and slander? Defamation? I wouldn't bank on that suit, but could be a test of whether judges treat recall campaigns different than regular ones. I can't imagine that they do for campaigning/1st amendment purposes, but that's out there.

Wisconsin: Voters confused by some of the recall voting rules

Does this explain some of the lower voting numbers for LG?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Massachusetts: Bridgewater Charter Committee had mention recalls; left out as an "oversight"

Another strong article by Rebecca Hyman looking at the Bridgewater recall court fight. See here an analysis of her past piece .
This piece notes that before the 2010 charter voter, the Town Government Study Committee specifically mentioned that voters would have the recall power.

The vice chairman of the Town Government Study Committee said the committee wasn't referring to the preexisting 1990 recall law, and that the recall was left out of the charter as an oversight.

The piece also includes the following look at other nearby jurisdictions' recall laws:

Barnstable requires turnout in the recall election be at least 20 percent for an official to be removed, whereas Bridgewater has no minimum turnout requirement.In Randolph, which has the same form of government as Bridgewater, the petition must be signed by at least 20 percent of registered voters in a district.
In Franklin, which has a town administrator and nine councilors who all serve at large, the petition must be signed by at least 5 percent of the registered voters of the town, but there is a 25 percent minimum turnout rule.
In Abington, which has selectmen and a town meeting, the petition must be signed by at least 20 percent of the registered voters of the town.

Michigan: Pierson Council President survives recall vote

Karl Van Haren survived the Pierson recall 24-21 (reported as 40% voter turnout). Now, three other council members, Rebecca Starr and  Duane Griffes and Verna Smigiel, are facing an August recallbacked by Van Haren (Van Haren needed to gather six signatures -- he got nine).

Michigan: Pontiac mayor faces second recall attempt

Pontiac Mayor Leon Jukowski is facing a second recall challenge. In the first recall attempt, petitioners needed 3,237 signatures and submitted 3,597. However, only 3,150 were validated, which fell short by 87 signatures.

Michigan: Three Ishpeming City Council members survive recall

Three Ishpeming City Council members, Claudia Demarest, Elaine Racine and Mike Tall survived recalls yesterday --  recall against Demarest failed 442 yes votes to 620 no votes, against Racine failed 416 yes votes to 645 no votes and against Tall failed 413 yes votes to 648 no votes.

The recall was brought against the three council members for their "failure to vote for the transfer of retirement credits for Police Chief Jim Bjorne. Apparently, they are still fighting within the City Council.

Wisconsin: Quasi-rematch in second Senate seat

In one of the Senate races, Senator Terry Moulton will face Democrat Kristen Dexter, a former Assemblywoman. Dexter beat Moulton in 2008 in a race for the Assembly seat.

Their luck reversed in 2010, when Dexter lost her seat, while Moulton won a Senate race.

Slate article on signature gathering

Article looks at how the political parties look at the signatures, and how it is a real indicator of people's voting preferences.

Craig Gilbert's take on the turnout numbers

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert has an insightful take on the numbers.

Wisconsin: Key thoughts on the primaries

Here's a round-up of my thoughts on the primary results.

1) Was the turnout a bad sign for Democrats? I know we were told to expect 1.3-1.5 million -- which appears to be what we got -- but I'm not sure that I saw Walker getting such a high percentage of that vote. Many Walker voters might have stayed away, as his race was not well publicized (and it was a blow-out). Yet, he got nearly as many votes as all of the Democratic Gubernatorial candidates combined. Gray Davis' recall saw a much higher voter turnout than in his original election victory in 2002. Is this something that will be cause for concern for Democrats?

2) In three of the six Democratic primary votes in the 2011 recalls, turnout topped 30,000. Despite the fact that a big Gubernatorial primary was headlining the ticket, none of the four races yesterday saw that type of turnout. This may be a function of the shape and size of the districts, or perhaps it is just lack of down ballot voting (undervoting), but that is not a great sign for the 4 recalls.

3) The Democrats owe a debt of thanks to Arthur Kohl-Riggs, the Fake Democrat/Placeholder who made sure that Walker faced a primary. While Walker looked good racking up big numbers 626K, the larger issue may be what those voters would have done if Walker wasn't running. Would those voters have all stayed home, or would they have caused some headaches with strategic voting in the Democratic primary?

4) Why was there such a huge undervote for the LG race? Could the Republicans have taken advantage with tactical voting to protect Kleefisch? The total vote for Governor was 1,316,736. The vote for LG was 758,070. That's a large drop-off -- only 57.5% of the voters who cast a ballot in Gov race went down an tried to vote in the LG race. It is clear that a large part of Walker's 626K voters must have ignored the LG race. I don't think tactical voting occurs that often-- it's more of a what if then anything else. But there was ever a time to use it, the LG race was clearly it.

5) Do voters understand the open primary system? This is not a knock on anyone. I just think that the undervote is extreme. One possible explanation: Did Republican voters not realize that they could vote on the Walker race and then switch to the Democratic races later (Wisconsin primary law allows voters to jump around from party to party in the vote for each separate office). It is a huge disparity between the Gov and LG positions.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A blown opportunity for strategic voting for the Republicans?

Let's go back to the Lieutenant Governor race. Mahlon Mitchell was running against one fake/placeholder candidate (Isaac Weix) and one essentially unknown (Ira Robins). There was no Republican on the other line -- The Democrats (perhaps foolishly) did not run a fake/placeholder candidate. This was the perfect opportunity for the Republicans to vote strategically and knock out Mitchell. Look at the totals. The entire LG race vote is only a little over a hundred thousand votes more than Walker received. Many of Walker's 626,000 voters clearly ignored the LG race. Only 362,000 people voted against Mitchell. If the Walker's supporters went out to vote en masse (as they are allowed to do in Wisconsin's open primary system) for one of the opponents (presumably Weix), they might have been able to win that race. I have not seen that many examples of strategic voting (i.e. voting for a weaker opponent) actually working, but here might have been an easier pickup than usual.

About 1.3 million voters in Gov primary -- is this a good result for Democrats>

This is in line (if at the low-end) of the forecasts, equaling about 30% of turnout. Democratic candidates got a little more than half the votes --  about 650,000 combined. Here's an examination by the MJS' Craig Gilbert of the past primaries.

Here's the problem for Democrats. It is possible that Republicans did not come out to vote in full force -- it may not have been obvious to voters that Walker was on the ballot at all. The Democrats can't hope that the same holds true their voters.

Some history here. Gray Davis' recall saw a much higher voter turnout than in the previous election (2002). We should definitely that the recall will see something like the 2.1 million voters who cast their ballots in the 2010 gubernatorial. Perhaps Democratic primary voters didn't care, or perhaps their vote is simply and "anyone but Walker" one. Whatever the reason, the Democrats probably have to step up their turnout game to win in June.

Michigan: Kalkaska County Board Chair survives recall vote by 30 votes

Stuart McKinnon survived a recall by 30 votes today. McKinnon and three other commissioners were targeted in recalls by former county Prosecutor Brian Donnelly over mostly budget and spending issues. But Donnelly, who was also the target of recall by county board members, died in January.

Two of the commissioners, Michael Cox and Antonio Martini, resigned from office. The recall attempt of commissioner David Ritter never made it to the ballot.

Three Senate races decided, one has slow numbers coming in

The John Lehman race, which would be a rematch with Van Wanggaard, is still slowing in getting results. In the other three races, The Democrats won between 64 and 72% of the vote.

Wisconsin: Mahlon Mitchell at 52% of the vote in the LG race, voter turnout at half Gov race

The LG race had to be the single position that saw the greatest possibility of strategic voting by Republicans and recall opponents. In the Gubernatorial race, Republicans wanted to give Walker as strong a victory as possible. But, since Kleefisch was not facing a primary, The LG race was a perfect area to express their displeasure.

We can see that result in the open primary setting, as the obvious Democratic nominee, Mahlon Mitchell, received 52% of the vote. The other votes were split close to evenly between the fake/placeholder candidate (26%) and a private investigator who was not seen as much of a threat.

Note that with 95% of the total, the Governor's race had approximately double the turnout (combining both parties) as the LG race. Was it an undervote or did Republicans (and others, as the Democratic opponents of Mitchell had a limited options) simply not vote for the position.

The Democrats will spin this (if anyone cares) as Mitchell getting a clear majority of the total vote. The Republicans will take the position that there were no real Republicans on the ballot, yet Mitchell did not romp to victory, with a very low turnout. Will see what this means.

Barrett takes the Democratic nomination

Looks like the all the expected parties won. What we will be looking for is turnout numbers and how the fake/placeholder candidates did.

Wisconsin: Waiting on the results

Not much to report yet. Supposedly the day of the election stories are always the most useless, but here are a couple if you want to check them out

Wisconsin: My appearance on WORT-FM

I was on "A Public Affair" for about an hour today. You can listen to it here.

Michigan: Wayne County Executive recall attempt fails

The attempt to recall Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has failed, with petitions unable to turn in the 140,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.

Michigan: Three Oak Park City Council members facing petitions

Three Oak Park City Council members, Councilman Emile Duplessis, Councilman Paul Levine and Mayor Pro Tem Angela Diggs Jackson are facing recall petitions, with the language already approved.

The three council members are facing voter anger for their support for a new city complex, which will  house City Hall, the 45B District Court and Public Safety Department. Voters had approved a $13 million bond to construct the facility in 2010. The city laid off 15 public safety officers to assist with its $3 million budget deficit the same monthe council voted to move forward with the reduced budget.

Texas: Another attempt to recall El Paso mayor


Massachusetts: Petitions taken out against two Mansfield Selectmen

Petitions have been taken out to recall Mansfield selectmen Chairman Jess Aptowitz and Selectman Kevin Moran over a budget fight.

Petitioners have 20 days to get 607 signatures (5 percent of the town's registered voters).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Primary Numbers: A Guide to Wisconsin's Recall primaries

The first big test of the Wisconsin is the primary tomorrow. Outside of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, we probably could easily predict every result. Still, let's look at some of the new issues that have cropped up about the primary, and what it means. For a full look at the recall itself, you can check out this earlier blog post. Also, if you are interested in the history of Wisconsin's adoption of the recall, see here.

The Fake/Placeholder candidates:

In all six races, the Republicans have put forward a "fake" Democrat or (as they prefer to call them) a placeholder. I find both of these term incorrect. The biggest problem with the "fake" appellation is that it implies the fake candidate is suppose to win, or even garner enough votes to embarrass the Democratic nominee. This is clearly not the case.

Wisconsin's recall law is unusual. If there is two candidates running for the same party nomination, they hold primary, and push off the general recall vote one month. But if there is only one candidate, then the recall is held on what would have been the primary day. The problem for the Republicans is that there are six different elections. Therefore, the party had to put up candidates to delay some of the recalls, so they all take place on the same day (June 5).

If some of the recalls were held on the same day as the primary, the Democrats would have had a big advantage in those race. The Democrats were definitely holding a primary for the Governor position -- their voters were certain to turn out. Republicans might not have come out to the same degree for a state Senate or Lieutenant Governor race. By delaying it, the Republicans are ensuring they can concentrate all of their fire on June 5.

I find "placeholder" an inaccurate term as well. It implies that there is a place that had to be held. The Republicans are choosing to delay those recalls. I don't have a good term to use.

Primary Problems:

Wisconsin's use of a primary in a recall setting is very unusual. It appears to be the only state to use a primary for recalls. While the use of the primary may be different, it should be understood that there is a wide variety in recall laws.

The result of the primary makes the recall even more partisan than in other states and jurisdictions, and unquestionably drives up the price of the recall. Wisconsin's recall is otherwise a simpler, and cheaper process than other states -- it is essentially a one-step revote.

Arizona's legislature has passed a constitutional amendment to change their system to include a primary (it still must be voted on by voters). This is because former Arizona Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce lost in a recall vote last year to a fellow Republican, Jerry Lewis. The district's demographics suggest that if it was a primary, Pearce would have beaten Lewis, and he would probably have won if Lewis (or someone else) had run as a Democrat).

Rematch Heaven

The primary is a rematch of an old race -- Both Barrett and Falk lost the Democratic primary in 2002 (to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle). If Barrett wins, we would have another rematch on our hands -- Barrett was the losing Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2010 to Governor Scott Walker. As I've mentioned before, most recalls are not reruns. Of the 32 state legislative recalls, only two were rematches. There is a strong tactical reason to avoid rematches -- the challenger can be branded as a "sore loser" who is trying to reverse a legitimate election.

However, rematches do appear to be becoming more common. One of the Senatorial recalls is a rematch (Lehman v. Wanggaard). Additionally, the Sheboygan mayoral recall from earlier this year featured a rematch.

The Buyin' Power of the Proletariat's Gone Done

The unions, who can be credited with getting the recalls on the ballot, seem to be backing Kathleen Falk. Barrett has been s union opponent on a number of fronts. However, he is leading in the polls going into the vote. How would a Falk win change Walker's defense?

Walker would presumably have a better chance of tying Falk to the unions, and claiming that he is facing an interest group recall (not that he won't try the same tactic with Barrett, just that it may work better with Falk). In the past, voters have been less than keen on what I would define as interest group recalls. The don't have the same problem with partisan recalls. See here for some past examples of this.

My argument is that, by necessity, interest groups are representing a smaller group of constituents than one of the two major political parties. There are plenty of voters in both parties that dislike a specific interest group, even if they are tied into their own party’s base, and these voters may be especially turned off by the belief that an interest group is flexing its muscle in such a direct manner.

A couple of other basic facts that I might as well repeat here:

Gunning for the Governor: A brief history
As has been well documented, the Walker recall would be only the third recall of a US Governor to get on the ballot in US history. The first was in 1921, when North Dakota's Lynn Frazier (Non-Partisan League) was ousted. The second was against California Governor Gray Davis (Democrat) in 2003. Additionally, a recall was approved against Arizona Governor Evan Meacham (Republican) in 1988, but Meacham was impeached and removed by the legislature on the day the signatures were verified.

2nd in Commands:
Rebecca Kleefisch is the first Lieutenant Governor in the nation to face a recall vote. It appears she will be only the third non-governor to face a recall vote on the state level (the other two were both in North Dakota in 1921).

There has been much discussion about the law of recalling a LG -- some argued that the LG would be automatically included in a recall of the Governor. The Democrats did not play around with lawsuits, and instead got the signatures.

Flipping the Legislature

If just one of the Republican state Senators lose their seat, the chamber (which is currently tied) will flip to Democrat. There have been five recalls (or six or seven if you want to count California in 1995 multiple times, which we won't) that could have switched the legislature (Washington 1981, Michigan 1983, California 1995, Wisconsin 1996, Wisconsin 2011). All  but the Washington one (and the Wisconsin one last year) succeeded.

You have selected Regicide
Scott Fitzgerald is the fourth state legislative leader to face a recall. The first was California President Pro Tempore David Roberti in 1994. The second was Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon in 2008. The third was Arizona Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce, who was kicked out of office on November 8, 2011.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Massachusetts: Templeton Selectman trying for comeback after losing recall in February

Former Templeton Selectman (sounds like they don't use the term Selectwoman) Julie Farrell is running in tomorrow's election in a race against Selectman Robert Columbus. Farrell, the former board chair, was kicked out in a recall in February. Columbus was one of the leaders of the recall effort (though he did not replace Farrell, he is seeking his third term).

Farrell was recalled after voting to fire town coordinator Carol Skelton, who has since returned in the job part time.

Farrell is also running for reelection for the Templeton Municipal Light Board, facing a challenge from  Selectman Christopher Stewart.

California: Lake Elsinore councilman facing petitions

Lake Elsinore Councilman Daryl Hickman is facing recall petitions, with proponents having until Aug. 23 to get 3,298 signatures. To get on the November ballot, the signatures will have to be certified by August 10, therefore, it would have to be handed in a month earlier.

One of the criticisms of Hickman is that he supported the recall effort of then-Councilman Thomas Buckley. Buckley survived the February 2010 election, but lost to Hickman by just 17 votes in the City Council election for two seats, with Brian Tisdale receiving the most votes.

The big fight has been over Hickman's vote to fire City Manager Bob Brady.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Texas: Irving city council member threatened with recall

City Council member Rose Cannaday has been threatened with a recall. Petitioners have until June 2 to get more than 8,100 signatures from registered voters, 10 percent of registered voters.
Petitioners are saying that Cannaday has been disrespectful to residents and a poor steward of public money. She has been criticized for supporting a $213 million Las Colinas Entertainment Center, with the city providing $170 million. 

California: Three Rio School District Trustees threatened with recall

Three Rio School District trustees were threatened with a recall, though the original petitions were missing two valid signatures. Board President Eleanor Torres and Trustees Henrietta Macias and Ramon Rodriguez were served with a notice to circulate a recall petition. Petitioners need 2,641 signatures.

Wisconsin: Primary turnout expected at 30-35%

The highest turnout over the last 50 years was 27.5%.

California: Controversial statements lead to calls for recall of Compton Unified School District Board Member


Why Did Wisconsin Adopt the Recall: An Examination of "The History of the Recall in Wisconsin"

When you think of the states that are the big users of the recall (I'll put the others as Michigan, California, Oregon, Colorado), Wisconsin stands out for two reasons.

1. It is the only one of those states not to also enact the initiative. 2. It was the last state of that group of states to adopt the recall. This leads to a basic question – why was Wisconsin’s adoption of the recall different than other states?

Until very recently, the history of Wisconsin’s adoption of the recall has been effectively buried. I read through most of the 1926 issues of both the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal and found very little of substance that would explain why Wisconsin passed the recall in 1926 (I did find this great article on Harry Houdini life and death, though). A search on Wisconsin Magazine of History was fruitless as was the History of Wisconsin Volume V by Paul Glad, which covers the 20s)

I was going to write something about the history with what little I had, but fortunately last month, Christian Schneider, a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (update: now the Badger Insitute), published an extremely useful piece (update: new link is here) that provides critical insight into the adoption of the recall. If you want to place WPRI on the political map, it is a “free market think tank” and politically leans to the right (Schneider clearly opposes the Walker recall). In this post, I’m going to disagree with a number of Schneider’s conclusions, but make no mistake, it is the new starting point for any examination of the state’s adoption of the recall.

The place to start when examining Wisconsin’s recall history is the 1901-1914 years. (Fortunately, here we have a useful book – The History of Wisconsin Volume IV by John Buenker) The years 1910-1914 is when most of the early states adopted the recall. Wisconsin, by all reason, should have been among them. The Progressives, under the leadership of Senator Robert La Follette had been entrenched in power for more than a decade. They finally made their attempt to adopt direct democracy starting in 1910 (a banner year for progressives’ nation-wide).

In the 1910 legislative session, Wisconsin approved the Direct Democracy provisions. The initiative and the referendum sailed through, but the recall hit a bump. Just like in California, the recall against judges proved a hurdle (we’ll discuss that below). But it was only a temporary one. The legislature still easily approved the entire recall provision (which is substantively somewhat different than Wisconsin’s current law – you can read Schneider’s article for those details).

If it was in another state, it may have sailed through right then. But Wisconsin’s law on ballot propositions is different than many states (though similar to NY). They had to be passed by two separate legislative sessions. So instead of 1912, another great year for progressives, it got on the ballot in 1914.

By the time it got to the ballot, the backlash against progressives in Wisconsin had begun. The progressive failed to unite on a Republican primary candidate and split their vote (the state was Republican-dominated, so the primary was the big vote). Due to the removal of a ranked choice voting law -- they called it a Mary Ann provision (a favorite of La Follette) -- the conservative was victorious in the gubernatorial race (though the progressives won the Senate primary). Furthermore on the national level, there was the expected mid-term backlash. President Woodrow Wilson’s supporters got drubbed.

The result was that all 10 ballot proposals that would reshape the state, including the initiative, referendum and recall, went down in flames. Not one of the 10 proposals got 40% of the vote.

The initiative was apparently finished. But the recall went on to live another day.

The progressives came back to power in 1922. And here is where we get lost. The legislature passed the recall in that session and then again in 1924-26 session. 1924 was a good year for conservative Republicans (and with arguably the most conservative Democrat to ever head the ticket). However, it was a great year for progressives in Wisconsin. Bob La Follette ran for president and won the state (and 4.8 million votes nationwide). His race undoubtedly helped the party keep the state progressive for the 1924 session.

I didn’t see much about the adoption of the recall (though perhaps I have to look through 1923, 1924 and 1925 to find coverage). The death of La Follette in June 1925 may have given the recall further push, but there was little discussion of the recall until the end of 1926, when there are a few critical articles from both the Journal and Sentinel, and some negative writing from the state bar about a negative impact on judges.

The vote itself was held on November. The recall was not the big ballot initiative that year – the same day Wisconsin had a vote on whether to allow the sale of beer (which passed easily). For the recall, the first coverage suggested it going down to defeat. And the end result saw a close vote – it only got 50.6% of the vote. Fortunately for recall backers, 1926 was also a good backlash year against Coolidge – the Democrats did well, and presumably so did progressives.

Now for some critical thoughts: Schneider has two key points to argue a central thesis that the recall was not supposed to impact governors.

One is that the debate surrounding the recall appears to be completely about Judges, which leads Schneider to the position that the recall might have been about the removal of Judges. From what I saw, the focus was definitely on judges. But a look at other states and the national recall battles in the past -- something that, in his defense, Schneider would not have seen – shows that the fight over the judicial recall was a key battleground for recall opponents.

The California debates of 1911 were heavily focused on judges. Similarly, the national debates on the recall, between William Howard Taft and his surrogates and Theodore Roosevelt were all focused on judges. The recall of judges (and judicial decisions) was clearly the most controversial part of the recall, opposed by even some of the ardent supporters of the recall. It is no surprise, both from a theoretical and a tactical level, that it would be the key focus of complaint. It was the weak point of the recall, and opponents went after it with fervor. Perhaps fittingly, the most notable recalls of judges in US history happened in Wisconsin.

Therefore, I would not read much into the focus on the judiciary. It was simply an easy electoral tactic and probably not an indication of why the recall was adopted.

The second point is that at the time, Governors only served two years terms. Senators served four, and (like today) Assembly members served two. The law was changed in 1967 to give Governors a four year term. Schenieder argues that with the “no recalls in the first year of office” limit, Governors would not have really been a target. I disagree.

By 1926, Wisconsin had the ability to see numerous recall campaigns, including those against a Governor (North Dakota), three state legislators (California), the mayors of LA, Seattle and Atlanta. They knew what they were getting into, and they knew how the recall operated.

Note that the North Dakota’s gubernatorial recall of 1921 – the most famous recall in the country – took place against an official who was elected to a two year term.

Many other states had two year terms for governors and legislators. There is no exception for them in the rules. It is true that no other states has such a long grace period -- California had a 3 month grace period, North Dakota doesn’t appear to have a grace period, but does ban recalls if there will be a race for the position within the year -- but that doesn’t prove much. There is a lot of variety in recall laws, and the reason for the variety is frequently unknown.  As this blog has repeatedly noted this year, legislative bodies rarely consider the recall when drafting election law, resulting in strange and barely considered problems. I’m not sure why the law was written with a one year delay, but it would be a great stretch to say that it effectively exempts most major offices in the state.

Schneider also notes that the current recalls in Wisconsin have all been against Senators, elected to four year terms, and none have been launched against current Assembly members, elected to two year terms. I don’t think this proves anything. The reason the Senate was targeted was because by winning three Senate seats the Democrats would be able to take control over the chamber (we’ve seen this same scenario play out in the past). I’m sure that if the Assembly was separated by a few votes, we would see Assembly members facing the recall today.

Schneider does point out some other useful facts, including the differences between the 1914 and 1926 recall bills. Note that the 1914 law had a registered voter signature requirement, rather than the much looser eligible voter one from 1926.  Schneider notes that the draft changed from "qualified electors" to the very loose "electors," but there is no reason given for the change (almost certainly lost to history). These types of facts seem to suggest a lack of thought in the drafting process, which is no surprise.

One big question that is unanswered is the one I set out on top: Why the recall? Why didn't Wisconsin adopt the seemingly more powerful Initiative?

What can we take away from this history? Outside of round of applause for Schneider for a real contribution to our understanding of the recall's history, I think we are left with some unsurprising open-ended questions. There are no great generalizations that can be made about the adoption of the recall. That’s just how history works.