Sen. Galloway punts on her recall; GOP loses majority
Word was out several days before Sen. Pam Galloway’s announcement of her pending resignation Friday that something significant was afoot in the 29th Senate District race, but for those of us not hardwired in to the right, we didn’t know what it would be. The most likely, some of us thought, was that a “fake Democrat” would emerge to force a primary for Rep. Donna Seidel, (D-Wausau), who has been making a steady stream of appearances around the 29th since announcing her candidacy for the recall race in early February. The news that Galloway won’t be the opponent was a big surprise, but it really doesn’t change things as much as one might think, or perhaps as the Republicans may have been hoping.
“My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention,” Galloway said in a statement. But regardless of the reason, the fact is that after less than 15 months of a 4-year term and voting lockstep with the GOP leadership that took over the capitol in January 2011, Senator Galloway is punting. (Karl Rove’s PAC reportedly invested more than $300,000 to help Galloway get elected, which will now come to more than $20,000 per month.)
But the recall election for her seat goes forward, even though she is not a candidate. Reid Magney, spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, said Galloway’s name would not be on the ballot if she resigns according to her schedule. If she hadn’t resigned by April 9, the Republicans wouldn’t have had an opportunity to put a replacement candidate on the ballot. This is the party that controlled the chamber 19-14 after the 2010 elections. Following last summer’s recall elections and this latest development, they now fall into a 16-16 tie.
Just watching the message traffic and looking at the way the dominos are lined up, it appears that 86th District Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) and 87th District Rep. Mary Williams (R-Medford) are looking at running. Of those two, Petrowski would seem to be the stronger candidate. He is well known in the most populated part of the district in Marathon County, unlike Williams. Both won convincingly in the GOP tsunami of 2010, but it remains to be seen whether voters will feel the brand has been tarnished with all of the acrimony since that high water mark for the Republicans.
The problem for Petrowski is that even though he has proven to be a safe incumbent in his district, it seems like it may be more because it is a “Petrowski district” than a truly Republican district. The same can’t necessarily be said of the 29th Senate District. If he goes for the senate seat against Seidel, his last two Democratic opponents in his Assembly elections were Todd Punke, a consultant and former teacher, along with Nate Myszka, a former staffer for Congressman Dave Obey. On the Republican side, Kevin Hermening might be a possibility – although he left the 2010 race for the 29th Senate District early on, leaving the road open for Galloway’s surprising win over former Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker.
Whatever reasons Galloway may have for leaving and however pressing they may be, it would not be surprising to learn that there is some polling data floating around that would support her decision not to go through another campaign just to try to finish her initial term. It could well have been fourth and long for her. Recall organizers were successful in getting the necessary signatures to force her recall, but anecdotal stories were popping up during the process indicating that one of the more significant challenges was a third of people being approached didn’t know who she was. Not known for being a great schmoozer and a relatively short-term player on the political scene, Galloway came out as a bit of an enigma and she will be leaving as one, too.
Galloway’s brief resignation letter is dated March 12, 2012:
UPDATE: Rep. Petrowski announced 29th SD bid: