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Intro: "The season of dirty political tricks is now officially under way. In letters obtained by No Quarter, local Republican Party officials are encouraging their GOP colleagues to collect enough signatures to get a fake Democratic candidate on the ballot in each of two upcoming recall elections."

Protesters in Wisconsin display 'Recall Them All' posters. (photo: AP)
Protesters in Wisconsin display 'Recall Them All' posters. (photo: AP)

Wisconsin GOP to Run Fake Democrats in Recall Elections

By Daniel Bice, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

08 June 11


RSN Special Coverage: GOP's War on American Labor


he season of dirty political tricks is now officially under way.

In letters obtained by No Quarter, local Republican Party officials are encouraging their GOP colleagues to collect enough signatures to get a fake Democratic candidate on the ballot in each of two upcoming recall elections.

The spoiler Democrats, who are identified by name in the letters, would run in the Democratic primaries for the seats now held by Republican Sens. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon.

Both of the fake Democrats have a history of giving almost exclusively to major Republicans.

"We need to make sure Democrat challengers face primaries to allow our Republicans time to mount a campaign," Dan Feyen, chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party, wrote in the letter to "fellow conservatives" on Friday.

"A Democratic primary," Feyen continued, "will push the general election back by one month, so that Senator Hopper can have more time to organize a campaign against his liberal challenger."

That's verbatim what is in the other two-page letter encouraging support for the second fake Democratic candidate, except that note substitutes Olsen's name for Hopper's.

By running these fake Democrats, Republicans would force the Democratic challengers to spend money on a primary that could have been used in the general election. Plus, the spoiler candidates could launch negative attacks on the Democrats while the Republican incumbents remain above the fray.

Feyen confirmed that he sent his letter trying to get a "protest candidate" on the ballot in the Hopper race.

What's more, he said there's a good explanation for why his letter and the one written by local Republican officials in Olsen's district were virtually the same.

"It's something being coordinated by the RPW," he said, referring to the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Officials with the state party could not be reached for comment.

Local GOP officials in La Crosse were also secretly recorded on May 25 discussing getting a spoiler Democratic candidate in the recall election tentatively scheduled for Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse. During that discussion, La Crosse County Republican officials mention Mark Jefferson, the former head of the state GOP , and Kapanke's campaign manager .

Kapanke's campaign has denied any involvement in the matter. Jefferson, who stepped down to take a job with the national party last week, has not commented.

In an interview Sunday, Hopper said he also had no involvement in the attempt to get a fake Democrat on the ballot in his race.

"I have absolutely zero to do with it," said the first-term Republican.

A total of nine senators - six Republicans and three Democrats - could face recall elections for their actions on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair measure. Hopper, Olsen and Kapanke have gone to court to appeal the Government Accountability Board's ruling that their elections should be held later this summer.

The Republican senators endorsed Walker's plan, which would curb collective bargaining rights for most state workers. The Democrats fled the state in a failed attempt to block action on the measure, which is now tied up in court.

Frankly, Hopper said, he would prefer to have his election as soon as possible. He would hope that neither he nor his likely opponent, Jessica King, has a primary race.

"Let me freakin' be done," Hopper said.

Feyen said it makes sense to force a primary on the Democratic side in Hopper's district.

Hopper, he said, has been so busy voting on legislation in Madison that his Democratic opponent has been given a head start in the race.

Feyen said he had no problem running a Republican in the Democratic primary to help the incumbent.

"None whatsoever," he said.

In truth, Feyen admitted he knew very little about the spoiler candidate he's backing, John Buckstaff. Feyen said Buckstaff comes from a part of the Senate district that Feyen doesn't know very well.

Buckstaff did not return calls. State records show Buckstaff, who is retired, has a long history of giving modest amounts to Republican candidates, including Walker and Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. He even gave $575 to Hopper's campaign in 2008.

Hopper said he knows Buckstaff but wouldn't say if he considers him a Republican or a Democrat.

In Olsen's race, Sauk County Republican Party Chairman Tim McCumber and Waupaca County Republican Party Chairman Fred Zaug are encouraging conservatives in their area to gather enough signatures to get Rol Church on the ballot as a Democrat.

"Please help maintain our Republican legislative majority today!" the pair wrote. "We can't stress enough how important it is to have Rol on the ballot to combat the shady maneuvers of Madison liberals and their out-of-state allies."

The letter asks supporters to collect 800 signatures by June 13.

"Please join us in supporting Rol Church's 'protest candidacy' on the Democratic ballot by signing the enclosed nomination paper and returning it to us right away!" the pair of GOP officials wrote.

Neither Zaug nor McCumber returned calls Sunday.

Church, who is retired, made five small donations to Walker during the last gubernatorial campaign. He's also given to Van Hollen and a handful of other Republicans.

Reached Sunday, he was coy about his party affiliation.

"Stay tuned," he said. "It will all be announced soon."

He said he hadn't seen the letter from the two county GOP officials touting his Democratic candidacy.

"It's Sunday," he said seconds before hanging up. "Perhaps we'll talk again." your social media marketing partner
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