A state lawmaker has lost a bid to have his name added to the ballot in the 30th Senate District recall election. As a result, state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) will face just a single challenger later this month.
The decision Friday in Dane County Court comes out of a challenge by state Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) who had his nominating petition to run in the recall race rejected earlier this month by the Government Accountability Board. Nygren filed a petition with 465 signatures on it, but challenges to dozens of those left him with just 398 valid signatures. State law requires 400 to get on the ballot.
Nygren challenged the decision in Dane County Court, where his attorney spent most of Friday morning focusing on getting the judge to approve enough signatures to qualify him for the ballot. Among those were a signature rejected because the nominator had already signed the petition of another Republican and a signature from someone who put down an address outside of the district. The judge rejected arguments for both.
Attorney Eric McLeod also tried to argue that Nygren’s own signature as a petition circulator should count, even though he did not sign the actual petition. Judge Richard Niess declined to rule on that issue at this time.
GAB attorney Lewis Beilin warned that approving Nygren’s challenges could open the door to a never ending process of people challenging or trying to add signatures to petitions after deadlines had passed. Beilin also argued that the GAB followed the law in how it handled the petition challenges, and all other candidates in the nine senate recall races were able to meet the required deadlines.
Nygren was the only candidate who turned in enough petition signatures, but was not granted space on a ballot.
Judge Niess agreed that GAB handled the situation as it was required to, although he admitted it was a “close call” when issuing his decision.
Nygren says an appeal of the ruling is unlikely, although he will think about trying to run a write-in campaign.
The decision means Senator Hansen will face the remaining recall challenger, Republican David VanderLeest, in an election on July 19th.