United States: Frequently Asked Questions About The Upcoming Recall Election In Wisconsin

Last Updated: May 8 2012
Article by Joseph W. Handrick

When is the recall election?

The recall primary is Tuesday, May 8. The recall general election is Tuesday, June 5.

Who are the Democratic Party candidates seeking to challenge the Governor?

There are five Democrats competing in the May 8 primary: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk; State Senator Kathleen Vinehout; Secretary of State Doug LaFollette; and Gladys Huber of Mequon. Barrett and Falk are widely viewed as the front-runners.

Is there a primary on the Republican side as well?

Yes. Arthur Kohl-Riggs of Madison submitted nomination papers and will be on the May 8 ballot against Governor Scott Walker.

What about the Lieutenant Governor?

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is being recalled as well. She has no Republican challenger, however, so there will not be a Republican primary for this office.

There is a Democratic primary for Lt. Gov. which will take place on May 8. There are three candidates vying for the right to take on Kleefisch in the June general election.

Are there any other elections on the ballot that same day?

In addition, there are four Democrat primaries for State Senate on May 8. The winner of each will take on a Republican senator on June 5:

  • Racine area: The winner of the primary in the 21st District will then take on Republican Senator Van Wanggaard;
  • Dodge/Jefferson county area: The winner of the primary in the 13th District will face Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in the June general;
  • Eau Claire area: The winner of the primary in the 23rd District will run against Republican Senator Terry Moulton on June 5;
  • Wausau area: Things are a little different in the 29th Senate District. In that seat, the incumbent being recalled has chosen to step aside and is being replaced on the ballot by Republican Representative Jerry Petrowski. Therefore, the winner of the Democratic primary in May will face Petrowski—not former Senator Pam Galloway.

The recall general election for these state Senate contests will take place the same day as the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election: June 5.

Can I vote in either party's primary?

In a typical partisan primary, a voter may only vote in the primary for one political party. Each of these recalls is considered a distinct election, however.

Voters may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary for Governor (but not both). Regardless of which primary for Governor they choose, that voter can also vote in the Democratic primary for Lt. Gov. and State Senate (there are no GOP primaries for these two offices).

To put it another way... You may only vote for one candidate per office, but you may vote in the Republican primary for one office and the Democratic primary for a different office.

When local officials are recalled, if the incumbent gets more than 50% of the vote in the primary they are declared the winner and there is no general election. Does this apply to this recall?

No. This "50% rule" only applies to nonpartisan elections. There will be a general election on June 5 regardless of the percentage Governor Scott Walker gets in the May primary.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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