MILWAUKEE — Right now, Wisconsin has a Republican governor and lieutenant governor. But after Tuesday’s recall elections, the top two officials could be from different parties.
In normal elections, the two candidates run on a single ticket. But in recall elections, public officials are on their own. So theoretically, Gov. Scott Walker (R) could hold on to his seat, while Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) could lose to Mahlon Mitchell, meaning Walker would have to work with a Democrat.
“Highly unlikely,” former Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold told The Huffington Post when asked about this scenario.
Both Mitchell and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) also dismissed the possibility, arguing that people were likely to choose two candidates from the same party.
“We don’t see that split-ticket scenario at all. We’re not factoring that in,” said Barrett.
Still, it could happen. People might check the box for Walker but leave the box for lieutenant governor blank — while more Democratic voters fill it in for Mitchell.
Technically, the lieutenant governor is in charge of Wisconsin whenever the governor is “absent,” but with modern technology, it’s possible to conduct business even when out of state.
But as the Associated Press noted, a lieutenant governor could still declare him- or herself in charge every time the governor leaves the state — and cause an incredible amount of mischief.
“Once in control, the lieutenant governor could sign or veto bills, issue or revoke executive orders, make judicial appointments, call lawmakers into a special session, demand access to confidential governor files or issue pardons,” reported the AP. “While the governor could undo most of those moves upon returning, a pardon is irreversible, and any secrets learned by the opposition wouldn’t be unlearned.”
If Democrats pick up any one seat, they regain control of the state Senate, while Republicans will retain the majority in the Assembly. The victory would be the result of not only this recall election, but also a previous round of recalls in August, in which Democrats took over two seats and narrowed the gap with Republicans.
While the victory would be meaningful symbolically, it might not mean much practically. The legislature is out of session until November, when regular elections for state senate will be held.
If Barrett wins, he could theoretically ask the legislature to come back for a special session, but it would require the consent of both the state Senate and the Assembly.