In lame-duck period, Wisconsin Republicans make their move

The period between Election Day and the day new lawmakers take office is some of the most dangerous times for democracy.

Wisconsin may prove that anew.

Gov. Scott Walker, ousted by voters this month, is planning a push for changes in Wisconsin government in a lame-duck session of lawmakers.

Under Wisconsin law, an election for the state Supreme Court has to be held on the first Tuesday in April, which in 2020 would be April 7, the same day as the presidential primary. Standing for election that day, then, would be Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, a conservative appointee to the court.

But a competitive primary could bring out more Democratic voters than Republicans, the Wisconsin State Journal says. So Walker and legislative leaders reportedly are considering changing the law, separating the two elections. That would appear to benefit Walker’s pick.

Pushed by reporters about whether the proposed law change is aimed at greasing the skids for his justice, Walker said, “I’m not talking about it.”

“It’s another corrupt attempt by Republican politicians to rig elections in their favor at taxpayer expense,” said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.

The State Journal has also reported that Republican legislative leaders and Walker have discussed legislation curbing the powers of the governor. Wisconsin’s new governor, Tony Evers, is a Democrat.

That reportedly includes limiting the governor’s authority over enacting state agency rules; enshrining rules related to the state’s voter photo ID law to make it more difficult to change; and making it more difficult for the governor to block a work requirement for Medicaid recipients, the Associated Press reports.

“The people of Wisconsin said loud and clear last week that we want a change from this petty, divisive partisanship, and Governor-Elect Evers believes Republicans should stop any and all attempts to override the will of the people and instead focus on solving the problems of this state,” Britt Cudaback, the governor-elect’s spokesperson, said in a statement.