Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said aggressive efforts by House Democrats to push for impeachment inquiries of President Donald Trump could fire up the president’s base for the 2020 election.
At a Thursday WisPolitics.com luncheon at the Madison Club, Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, who is running for Congress in 2020, also reiterated his stance on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order for a November special session on gun-control legislation and said while many of Evers’ cabinet appointments are likely to receive approval from the Senate, some may not.
“Wisconsin Trump voters are jazzed up,” Fitzgerald said regarding impeachment inquiries by House Democrats. “I don’t think there’s any two ways of looking at it. They are fired up and they’re upset with what’s going on. There’s a point where they can overplay their hand, and I think they’re very close to that.”
Looking ahead to state Senate races next year, Fitzgerald said he anticipates Republican Dan Kapanke could challenge Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, for the 32nd District. Shilling beat Kapanke by 61 votes in 2016, after unseating him in a 2011 recall election.
He also said he believes a Republican candidate could beat Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset, who won the 10th District seat in a 2018 special election, or take the 30th District seat belonging to Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, if he retires.
Fitzgerald said he continues to caucus with fellow senators on the list of appointees in Evers’ cabinet.
So far, only five of the governor’s appointed department heads have been approved by the full Senate, despite many making it through committees.
The only cabinet members to receive Senate approval so far are Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca, Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld, Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan, Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Mary Kolar.
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Fitzgerald said it’s likely many remaining secretaries will be approved but added that he “could envision a place where there are people who are not confirmed.”
Some of Evers’ appointees yet to receive approval include Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman, Department of Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Melissa Hughes and Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim.
Fitzgerald reiterated statements he made Tuesday that he plans to adjourn a Senate special session on gun control legislation ordered by Evers immediately after calling it to order. Doing so would avoid discussion or a vote on the two bills Evers has proposed.
Evers has called for an up or down vote on both bills — which would require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in Wisconsin and implement so-called red-flag laws, under which people deemed by a judge to be threats must surrender their firearms. The Legislature is not required to vote on the matter.
Proponents of gun-control legislation have often pointed to survey results in recent Marquette Law School Polls, including one released Wednesday that found more than 80% of Wisconsinites support both expanded background checks for gun purchases and “red-flag laws.”
In a Thursday radio address, Evers called on residents to contact their legislators before the Nov. 7 special session.
“Members of the Legislature shouldn’t be able to ignore 80% of the people in our state, and folks like you should have the chance to hold them accountable if they do,” he said. “It’s time for members of the Legislature to start listening to the people of our state and get to work on addressing gun violence in Wisconsin.”