MADISON - A high-stakes summer electoral showdown between state Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, and state Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, is one step closer to the voting booth. Neither lawmaker is expected to have any primary challengers, so their political contest will come before voters July 12, pending any legal challenges.
The Government Accountability Board, the state elections agency, on Monday confirmed that there were enough valid signatures on petitions to declare recall elections against three state GOP state senators - Kapanke, state Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, and state Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon.
The recall elections give Democrats an opening to seize control of the Wisconsin Senate. Democrats need a net gain of three seats from the possible slate of nine elections, which features six Republican and three Democratic incumbents.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point political science professor Ed Miller said the state Senate's 32nd District seat will
be a focus for both political parties.
"That's a very swing area. It used to be more Republican but it's been a swing district as of late," he said.
When Kapanke ran for re-election in 2008, he beat out Democratic opponent Tara Johnson by a margin of 2.8 percent.
In the 2010 gubernatorial race, Scott Walker beat Tom Barrett in the 32nd District by a margin of 0.7 percent.
Kapanke is the chairman of the Agriculture, Forestry and Higher Education Senate committee and was first elected 2004.
Shilling, a state representative first elected in 2000, serves as a member of the Joint Finance Committee, which is responsible for crafting the incoming two-year budget.
Eric McLeod, a lawyer serving on behalf of Kapanke, Hopper and Olsen at Monday's GAB meeting, did not know if his clients would pursue going to court to challenge the GAB.