No governor in the United States has been so resolutely determined to structurally diminish democracy as Scott Walker.
Just last week, the hyper-partisan governor of Wisconsin was called out by a judge he had appointed for literally refusing to let Wisconsinites vote for their elected representatives. The governor’s rationale for failing to call special elections to fill vacant state legislative seats was so absurd that Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds dismissed it as “inconsistent, incompatible and irreconcilable.”
In ordering Walker to call the special elections for vacant State Assembly and State Senate seats, Judge Reynolds saw through the manufactured explanations for blocking elections that Republicans might lose and simply declared, “To state the obvious, if the plaintiffs have a right to vote for their representatives, they must have an election to do so.”
Logic and the law tripped Walker up and, thankfully, there was a judge to check and balance the governor’s antidemocratic impulses.
But sometimes the voters must take charge of checking and balancing gubernatorial power grabs.
That will be the case on April 3, when Wisconsin voters will have an opportunity to reject Walker’s most audacious assault on democracy yet.
The governor who has tried to prevent voters from electing their representatives in special elections is now supporting a move to eliminate an elected statewide office—literally striking it off the ballot so that voters will no longer have any role at all in filling it.
The office is that of state treasurer, a constitutional position that has existed from the founding of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s founders, like the state’s leaders through much of its history, recognized the value of sharing power in a number of statewide elected posts. They created a governorship with a two-year term and a separate lieutenant governorship, as well as an attorney general, secretary of state, and state treasurer. All were elected in partisan contests. After some tinkering and rearranging, a sixth constitutional office, that of state superintendent of public instruction, was established as a nonpartisan position.