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Andy Gronik, Milwaukee businessman and entrepreneur (copy)

Andy Gronik

The Republican Party of Wisconsin is challenging the validity of hundreds of nomination signatures gathered by two Democratic candidates for governor, alleging one candidate turned in signatures gathered by felons and another submitted signatures without the necessary accompanying information. 

A complaint filed Monday with the Wisconsin Elections Commission by RPW executive director Mark Morgan alleges that more than 1,000 signatures on Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik's nomination papers were gathered by two convicted felons. Under state law, convicted felons serving any portion of their sentence, including extended supervision, probation or parole, are not qualified electors and are therefore ineligible to circulate nomination papers. 

The complaint against Gronik also contends that some signatures were gathered by a man with an outstanding bench warrant, and questions whether he was the person who actually circulated the papers. 

Gronik's campaign disputed the complaint, calling the challenge "pitiful" and "disgusting." 

Campaign spokesman Brandon Weathersby confirmed that the two circulators in question had indeed committed felonies, but said they had both served their time and had their voting rights restored under state statute.   

"These accusations go beyond the typical dog-whistle and red meat politics we've grown to expect from Scott Walker's political machine — it is blatantly and offensively racist to suggest that a significant number of Andy's signatures are invalid simply because the signers come from Milwaukee, or because the signatures were collected by black and brown folks in Milwaukee," Weathersby said in a statement. 

RPW spokesman Alec Zimmerman shot back calling Gronik campaign's reaction "ridiculous."

"It's ironic but sadly predictable that Gronik, the same candidate falsely claiming to live in Milwaukee while running a campaign from his million-dollar home in Fox Point, would resort to such pathetic and desperate rhetoric. Perhaps if Gronik's campaign team spent less time frantically trying to distract from their candidate's daily mishaps they would have been able to get him on the ballot without yet another stumble — or this ridiculous reaction," Zimmerman said in a statement. 

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A second complaint filed by Morgan challenges 361 signatures on Eau Claire state Rep. Dana Wachs' nomination papers. According to the complaint, some of the 361 signatures in question do not include complete addresses, proper signatures or legible printing. 

"It's clear that the Republican Party considers Dana to be a serious threat to Scott Walker's re-election — and they should," said Wachs campaign manager Brita Olsen in a statement. "Voters are fed up with Walker's dishonesty and his pandering to wealthy out-of-state corporations. This challenge isn't going to stop Dana's campaign, which is growing stronger every day and building more support in every corner of the state."

The Elections Commission will consider these and other challenges to ballot access at its June 11 meeting. 

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.