GAB wants recall elections to be held May 15, June 12

MADISON (AP) -- The head of the Wisconsin state elections board recommended Friday that any recall elections against Gov. Scott Walker and five other Republicans be held on May 15 and June 12.

Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said in a memo to the full board that those dates make the most sense given the work that remains to be done verifying signatures on recall petitions and other timing concerns related to the proximity of the April 3 presidential primary election.

The full board was to discuss the issue Monday and if it agrees, ask a Dane County judge for more time on Wednesday.

The attorney for Democrats who launched the recall efforts said he would oppose the request in court. "That seems totally unreasonable and unnecessary and it would change the character of the election," attorney Jeremy Levinson said. Democrats have consistently argued the recalls should be held as soon as possible.

Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks refused to comment on the proposed election dates. Instead, he reiterated the party's position that multiple recalls be held on the same dates to cut down on election expenses. The elections board has also advocated for scheduling only two election dates.

Under the judge's order currently in place, any primary elections would take place May 1 and the general election would happen May 29.

The GAB has already been given a 30 day extension to review the estimated 1.9 million recall signatures. Its deadline for determining whether to call an election is now March 19. Kennedy said in the memo there is no way their work can be done before March 30.

He recommended that the board's deadline for calling the elections be extended to April 6, which would put the elections on May 15 and June 12.

Kennedy said those dates were preferred by an "overwhelming majority" of county clerks he discussed the issue with at a conference Tuesday. Those dates would give clerks the most amount of time to deal with requirements following the April 3 election and work around the Memorial Day holiday which falls on May 28, Kennedy said.

Walker is being targeted for recall along with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Republican Sens. Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, Pam Galloway, of Wausau, Terry Moulton, of Chippewa Falls, and Van Wanggaard, of Racine.

A Democratic primary in the governor's recall appears likely. Announced or likely candidates include former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug La Follette. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is also considering running.

The board on Friday also released materials showing that there were enough signatures to order recall elections against all four senators. Walker and Kleefisch are not contesting any of the signatures collected against them, making it likely the board will find there are enough to order elections against them as well once they complete their review.

Recall organizers say they submitted 1 million signatures against Walker and they only needed about 540,000.