Kapanke hopes public employees "are sleeping" during recall vote

State Sen. Dan Kapanke, a Republican facing a possible recall election, says he's got one huge obstacle that he must overcome to keep his seat.

All the government workers in his district.

In a secretly recorded talk to La Crosse County Republicans last week, Kapanke said he is hoping that all the public employees in his district "are sleeping" on election day.

"We've got tons of government workers in my district - tons. From La Crosse to Prairie du Chien and to Viroqua and to Ontario and to Hillsboro, you can go on and on and on. We have to overcome that. We gotta hope that they, kind of, are sleeping on July 12th - or whenever the (election) date is."

During the talk, which took place May 25 at the Cedar Creek Golf Club in Onalaska, Kapanke said he was one of three Republicans who are in serious jeopardy of losing their seats.

The other two, according to the La Crosse Republican, are Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac.

"We could lose me. We could lose Randy Hopper in the 18th or Alberta Darling over in – wherever she is – the 8th, I believe. We could lose one, but then we'd better gain it back. And that'd be able to hold our line, and gain one or two of their seats, and that will shut 'em down now. We have 19 (Republican senators). If we come back with 21, after these elections, it's over."

Kapanke said the situation in Madison would change dramatically if Democrats pick up seats. He lost to U.S. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) in last fall's general election.

"If they gain control of the Senate, it might be over for us. Because redistricting will play a role, as you know, and we lose that power."

In an interview today, Kapanke campaign manager Jennifer Harrington said her boss has a number of government workers supporting him and working to help him retain his seat. In fact, she said some of those attending the May 25 speech were public employees.

Kapanke, she said, was simply trying to encourage his supporters to come out to vote in the possible recall election. She said the election is about the state budget, not government workers.

Asked if Kapanke made a mistake in saying his campaign has to "overcome" the public employees in his district, Harrington said, "I have not talked to him about that."

Harrington said she wouldn't be surprised if Kapanke's taped remarks are used to stir up his opponents.

"Everything we say, everything Dan does, brings out people," Harrington said.

Last month, the state Government Accountability Board certified the recall petitions against Kapanke, setting the election for July 12. He is expected to face state Rep. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse.

On Tuesday, Kapanke and two other Republicans went to court to try to block their elections, accusing Democrats of improperly filing paperwork with state officials when they organized the recall efforts. Democrats have said they expect the suit to be tossed.

Kapanke is one of six Republican senators being targeted for recall elections because they supported Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair plan, which is tied up in court. The measure would curb collective bargaining for most public employees.

Three Democratic senators are also the subject of recall efforts because they fled the state in an effort to block a vote on Walker's budget proposal.

All Politics Blog - Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Wed Jun 2 2011

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