The effort to recall six Republican state senators in Wisconsin passed a key test this week when Democratic challengers easily defeated “fake” Democratic opponents in a round of primary elections forced by Republican Party members who filed to run as Democrats. Republicans ran the fake candidates to give the GOP state senators facing recall more time to campaign and raise money.
The state Republican Party admitted the strategy to the Wisconsin Capitol Times. “They did the job they were intended to do … which was to give the incumbents time to get back to their districts and talk with voters after passing the budget,” said Katie McCallum, a spokeswoman with the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
Turnout for the primaries was heavy, rivaling a regular general election. “Everywhere I go, I hear voter remorse,” Rep. Jennifer Shilling told the Capitol Times. Shilling is running against GOP Sen. Dan Kapanke. “People are wide awake and paying attention to what has been happening since February.”
Claiming the state was in deep fiscal crisis, Wisconsin Republicans passed a state budget that stripped hundreds of thousands of public employees of their right to collectively bargain and made deep cuts in social services. The GOP tactic to run fake candidates cost the state more than $400,000 to hold the unnecessary primary election. If the recall candidates were unopposed, the state would have skipped the primary and instead held one general election on July 12. Now, Wisconsin must run the general election on August 9, 2011.