ONTD Political

Republican Wisconsin Senator resigns

1:56 pm - 03/16/2012
State Sen. Galloway to resign, leaving Senate split

Madison - State Sen. Pam Galloway, who faces a recall election this summer, plans to resign from the Senate shortly, leaving an even split between Republicans and Democrats.

"After a great deal of thought and consideration, I've decided to put the needs of my family first," the Wausau Republican said in a statement Friday. "My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention. Unfortunately, this situation is not compatible with fulfilling my obligations as state Senator or running for re-election at this time."

Her statement did not say when her resignation would take effect, and her office said she was not available for an interview. She plans to speak to voters in her district on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said Galloway's departure was not influenced by her impending recall election and that he was confident she could have defeated Rep. Donna Seidel (D-Wausau) in the recall election.

"It doesn't change my plans," Seidel said of Galloway's planned resignation. "People really believe their concerns have not been addressed and their values have not been paid attention to. They want Wisconsin back."

Galloway's resignation will cause the Republicans to lose their Senate majority. Republicans would hold 16 seats and Democrats would hold 16 seats. It marks a dramatic change from a year ago, when Republicans held a commanding 19-14 majority in the Senate. It was narrowed to 17-16 in August when Democrats gained two seats in recall elections.

The new, 16-16 split will be brief, and one side or the other should take control in May or June, when recall elections are expected to be held for state senators.

The recall election against Galloway would still move forward even though she would no longer occupy the seat, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, which runs state elections.

That election is preliminarily scheduled for May 8. If more than one candidate runs from one party, that election would become a primary and the general election would be on June 5.

"A recall can't be short-circuited" once signatures to recall someone have been submitted, Magney said.

Galloway's name will not appear on the ballot if she resigns before the election, Magney said.

Fitzgerald said he would recruit another candidate to run in Galloway's place. He said he would start by talking to Reps. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon and Mary Williams of Medford.

Petrowski said he was not aware of Galloway's plan. He did not comment on whether he would consider running. Williams could not immediately be reached.

The other senators likely facing recall are Fitzgerald and GOP Sens. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Van Wanggaard of Racine.

Galloway's plans were disclosed a day after the Senate ended the regular legislative session on Thursday. No work is planned for the rest of the year, but the Legislature could still be called into special or extraordinary session.

"It kind of puts us in a holding pattern for the next two months," Fitzgerald said.

Lawmakers are awaiting a decision from a three-judge panel on whether maps of legislative districts that Republicans drew last year pass constitutional muster. If the federal judges find the maps were improperly drawn, they will likely send them back to the Legislature.

That would mean Republicans and Democrats would have to agree on any new election maps. If they could not, the judges would have to draw them.

How the maps are drawn is crucial because they can give one party an advantage over the other. The maps Republicans drew last year greatly benefit their side, but Democrats and Latinos sued, arguing the maps violated the federal Voting Rights Act and U.S. Constitution because of how they treated minorities and because they caused 300,000 people to wait six years, instead of four, between their opportunities to vote in state Senate elections.

Also, Gov. Scott Walker has talked of calling lawmakers into special session to consider streamlining iron ore mining regulations after a bill to do that failed in the Senate this month when Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) sided with Democrats to oppose the measure.

Fitzgerald said he believed now it would be much more difficult to reach any kind of deal on mining.

With Galloway's resignation, the Republicans will lose their Senate majority. Fitzgerald said he and Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) would become co-leaders.

A powerful committee that runs the state Senate now includes three Republicans and two Democrats. A third Democrat - Sen. Julie Lassa of Stevens Point - would be added to that committee, Fitzgerald said.

Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) would remain Senate president because he was elected by all senators, not just the majority party, Fitzgerald said.

Galloway's tenure in the Senate has been short and tumultuous. She defeated then-Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) in November 2010 in a Republican wave.

She was the lead author of a new law allowing Wisconsin citizens to carry concealed weapons, winning a legislative battle Republicans in Wisconsin had waged for a decade.

She served during a rocky year when protests were frequent, particularly because of a GOP law to sharply curtail collective bargaining for public workers. That sparked last year's recall elections in the Senate, as well as the ones this year against senators, Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

The contentious legislative agenda and the wave of recall elections have led to bitter divisions between the parties in the Senate and frequent disruptions by protesters.

"For the sake of the electorate, I hope that better days are ahead for this institution," Galloway said in her statement.

lovelokest 16th-Mar-2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
I wish her the best of luck in dealing with serious family illnesses - my heart goes out to her family and I wish them the best and hope they get healthy soon.

The political part of my brain is going: 16-16!!! This means that the lone, sane Republican (Schultz) may actually help kill bills that are extremely right wing (fun story: he's my Mom's rep, she emailed to thank him for voting against the mining bill. But also added that she was a Democrat and there was no guarantee she'd vote for him).
mirhanda 16th-Mar-2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
Maybe now they can roll back some of the idiocy.
doverz 16th-Mar-2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
This is good news, politically of course. Hope that everything works out with her family.

Too bad some of the stuff the Assembly just passed was already passed by the Senate though.

Edited at 2012-03-16 07:39 pm (UTC)
hinoema 17th-Mar-2012 09:44 am (UTC)
Part of me feels for her family, but part of me wonders if this wasn't a convenient moment to duck out of a recall they told her she wouldn't win and a way to dodge the inevitable bad press for the Republicans it would cause.
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