Democrats step up to take on Rep. state senators in recall

MADISON (AP) -- The state Assembly's assistant minority leader and two former legislators announced Tuesday they'll challenge three Republican state senators in possible recall elections later this year.

Rep. Donna Seidel of Wausau will take on Republican Sen. Pam Galloway, who also hails from Wausau. Seidel has served in the Assembly since 2004, and has been the Democrats' second-in-command for the past two sessions, first as assistant majority leader and now as assistant minority leader.

Kristen Dexter of Eau Claire will challenge Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls. Dexter served in the Assembly during the 2009-2010 legislative session, but was ousted by Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, in the 2010 elections.

John Lehman of Racine will run against Sen. Van Wanggaard, also of Racine. Wanggaard defeated Lehman in the 2010 elections.

Democrats have mounted recall attempts against six Republicans, including Galloway, Moulton, Wanggaard, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Gov. Scott Walker. Democrats and their allies want to exact revenge on them for enacting a host of divisive legislative proposals, chief among them Walker's contentious collective bargaining law, which stripped most public workers of nearly all their union rights.

No one has emerged to run against Jeff Fitzgerald or Rebecca Kleefisch yet.

Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and state Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville, have announced they will seek the Democratic nomination to take on Scott Walker. "The quality of our candidates reflects the seriousness of our purpose and will further advance the cause of the people of Wisconsin against the outide corporate interests to whom Scott Walker reports,'' Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said in a statement.

Republicans pounced on all three Democrats just moments after they made their announcements. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate issued statements pointing out that voters rejected Lehman and Dexter in 2010 and accusing all three of raising taxes.

The committee called the three Republicans reformers.

Earlier this month, Democrats handed state election officials recall petitions loaded with nearly 2 million signatures, more than enough to force all six Republicans into elections. The state Government Accountability Board is in the process of verifying the authenticity of the signatures, a task that could take months. It's unclear when elections would be scheduled.