The state Republican Party is drawing fire for recruiting members to run in recall elections against six GOP state Senators, forcing primary races against Democratic challengers. The practice is being defended though by the lead Republican in the state Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says the tactic is perfectly acceptable to give Republicans more time to defend themselves against the recall campaigns. He also notes that the tactic has been used before by Democrats in past elections.
With work wrapping up on the state budget and other key pieces of legislation, the Juneau Republican says Senators were worried a July 12th election would make it hard for them to campaign and get their message out. He says the extra time the primaries will provide are needed to help them fight against the recalls targeting six GOP members of the Senate.
Fitzgerald believes Republicans will come out of the recalls holding on to the majority. He points to the outcome of the recent state Supreme Court race, which many viewed as a referendum on the Governor’s controversial collective bargaining bill, as a key example of why Senators will hold on to their seats. Recall efforts were launched against Republicans because of their votes for that bill.
In that race, incumbent Justice David Prosser faced strong opposition from pro-union groups, largely because of his past ties to the Republican Party. Challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg lost by just over 7,000 votes, and Fitzgerald expects many Republican supporters to provide a strong turnout in the recall races.
If the current Democratic candidates face primary challengers, those elections would be held on July 12th. The general recall election would then be held on August 9th.
Meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Fitzgerald also raised criticism against the Government Accountability Board for keeping all six GOP Senate recall races scheduled for July 12th, while also delaying action on petitions against three Democratic Senators. Fitzgerald charges the decision was a partisan move by the Board.
The GAB meets Wednesday morning to decide the outcome of challenges to the petitions against Democrats.