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GAB finalizes list of candidates for GOP recalls
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GAB finalizes list of candidates for GOP recalls

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The Wisconsin Democratic Party has removed its "placeholder" candidates from several upcoming recall elections, saying it only devised the tactic to defend against a possible Republican ploy that has since failed to materialize.

The announcement Friday was the latest act of gamesmanship between the two parties ahead of as many as nine recall elections this summer.

Six GOP state senators are being targeted for recall because they supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to cut collective-bargaining rights from most public employees. Three Democratic senators are also being targeted for opposing those efforts.

In the six races targeting GOP incumbents, the state Republican Party said it would force its opponents to hold primaries first, by enlisting Republican candidates to run as fake Democrats. A primary would delay the general election about a month, giving the Republican incumbents more time to prepare.

Democrats decried the tactic, then worried that Republicans might take their strategy a step further by forcing primaries in only some of the races. That would cause some general elections to be delayed but not others, leading to varied election dates and possible voter confusion.

So Democrats planned to run "placeholders" — Democratic candidates with no intention of winning — simply to ensure that all six primaries were held and, as a result, that all recall elections were on the same day. They had lined up placeholders in three of the six races.

However, after Republicans did enter fake Democratic candidates in all six of the races, Democrats said they no longer needed placeholders.

A message left with the Republican Party of Wisconsin on Friday was not immediately returned.

State election officials finalized the list of candidates by Friday afternoon. The Government Accountability Board received the necessary paperwork from 12 challengers and said none of the nomination papers was challenged, so the board was able to lock in the election dates.

All six races will now start with a Democratic primary on July 12. According to the final paperwork, each primary pits one Democratic candidate against a "fake" Democrat. The winner will then face the Republican incumbent in a general election Aug. 9.

When Democrats first announced their placeholder strategy last week, Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he didn't think it would have much effect on the overall elections.

"I think it shows that the parties are straining for a little advantage rather than focusing on the core issues that brought about these elections in the first place," he said.

For the races targeting the three Democratic incumbents, challengers have until Tuesday to submit their paperwork. If any primaries are necessary they'll be held on July 19 with the general election following on Aug. 16.

The state Democratic Party has said it won't duplicate the Republicans' strategy of running fake candidates to force a primary.


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The Wisconsin Democratic Party wants a court to invalidate thousands of signatures collected on recall petitions in recent weeks, a move that if granted would effectively end recall efforts targeting three Democratic state senators.

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