Organizers seeking support for the removal of Gov. Scott Walker from office have yet to decide whether they will pursue the recall of Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a constitutional question currently up for review by the attorney general.
The Government Accountability Board sent an opinion request to the state attorney general’s office regarding proper petition methods in the event that both Walker and Kleefisch are faced with a recall, GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said.
University of Wisconsin College Democrats Chairman Jordan Weibel said recall groups in the state remain uncertain about whether or not they will attempt to recall Kleefisch as well as Walker. He said the preliminary efforts of the next several weeks in the campaign to recall Walker will help gauge whether there is unified interest in removing the lieutenant governor as well.
Attempting to recall only the governor, Weibel said, would present the rather odd possibility of electing a Democratic governor into office with Kleefisch, a Republican, retaining her seat of leadership.
In the opinion request, the board said their analysis of the state constitution and Wisconsin statutes suggests two separate petition efforts would be required if both Walker and Kleefisch were targeted for recall, Magney said.
The attorney general’s office would proceed to do its own legal research as to what the state would do in the event both the governor and lieutenant governor were sought for recall and would also weigh the GAB opinion, he said.
Magney said a recall of both Walker and Kleefisch would present a conflict between the state’s constitution and current state law.
He added the state requires candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run as a ticket in an election. However, he said current statutes only allow individuals to be recalled from office.
The conflict created by these two mandates then becomes whether a governor would run in a recall election with his or her lieutenant governor, since the constitution requires the two to run together, or if a separate recall effort would be necessary to recall the Walker’s running mate.
Magney said the board sent the attorney general its opinion that two petitions should be required to recall two officials, a ruling which would also serve to make the recall rules clear to both sides before each camp begins mobilizing.
“Without the attorney general’s clarification, both the recall groups and the governor’s campaign might have a different understanding of how recall works,” Magney said.
The lieutenant governor in the state takes over the governor’s position in the event that he or she dies or becomes unfit to continue in office. The same rules for the recall effort against Walker would apply to a similar effort to remove Kleefisch, he said, including the requirement to obtain 540,208 signatures.
Weibel said he is confident there will be enough “public scorn” for a recall of Kleefisch if organizations decide to focus efforts on removing both individuals.
“[Kleefisch] stood by [Walker] during his assault on union workers and union rights,” Weibel said. “I really do think Rebecca Kleefisch on her own has made Wisconsinites unhappy, both in her campaign and throughout her time in office.”