APPLETON — The upcoming recall race for governor and lieutenant governor is creating a scenario seldom seen in Wisconsin politics: For the first time in more than 40 years, voters will choose those candidates in separate races.
Normally, the two run as a team.
It could mean victory for both Democrats and Republicans.
When voters head to the polls June 5, they will be part of history. It's an attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker - and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, too.
A state constitutional amendment consolidated the ticket in 1970. The governor and lieutenant governor normally run as a team, but not this time.
For the recall, the State Department of Justice ruled separate offices require separate races.
"Meaning that voters could in fact split their ticket, so to speak, and we could end up with Democratic control of one office, and Republicans in the other," said Lawrence University Professor of Government Arnold
And that could make politics in the state's top offices very interesting.
Either the governor or lieutenant governor could be a thorn in the side of the other one. Because this is an elected statewide constitutional office, they could use their state monies to issue press releases and statements," said Shober.
It's a situation that has the attention of both candidates for lieutenant governor. But Democrat Mahlon Mitchell and Republican Rebecca Kleefisch say a split victory is doubtful.
"I think when someone goes to the polls they vote for a Democratic governor, and in turn will vote for a Democratic lieutenant governor," Mitchell said.
"I don't think there's going to be too much crossover voting in this recall election. So I think it's an extremely unlikely scenario," Kleefisch said.
Political ramifications aside, Appleton's city clerk says the process of voting in this recall election should be about as easy as it can get.
"It's strictly those two offices, and it's concise, and clear, and should be quick for everyone when they go to the polls and vote on election day, or vote absentee," said city clerk Char Peterson.
"Yes, it's another chapter in Wisconsin's recall history, one that I think both sides are hoping will be over soon. But we'll know a lot more how the process works in the future," said Shober.
The last time the two parties shared the executive branch was back in the 1960s. Republican Warren Knowles was governor. Democrat Patrick Lucey served as his lieutenant.
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