Wisconsin Republican leader who angered Trump is targeted for recall a 2nd time

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Supporters of former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that they have enough signatures to force a recall election of Wisconsin’s top elected Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, after their first effort came up short.

They targeted Vos, the longest-serving Assembly speaker in Wisconsin history, after he refused to impeach the official who oversees the battleground state’s elections, angering Trump and his followers.

The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission must determine whether there are enough valid signatures to trigger a recall election. The panel rejected the first attempt for not having enough valid signatures.

Petition circulators said they would submit more than 8,000 signatures collected from voters in the district where Vos was elected to serve most recently in 2022. They need 6,850 valid signatures to force a recall election.

In March, the group submitted more than 9,000 signatures but of those the elections commission determined that only 5,905 were valid.

The commission asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clarify whether any recall election should take place in the district where Vos was elected to serve, or under new district boundary lines that take effect for the regular November election.

The court declined to further clarify or amend its December ruling that found the current maps to be unconstitutional and barred their future use.

In the first recall attempt, Vos challenged the validity of thousands of signatures and declared the effort failed, no matter what district lines are used. He has derided those targeting him as “whack jobs and morons.”

Vos declined to comment Tuesday until after petitioners submitted the signatures.

In Wisconsin, candidates can be removed if they are defeated in a recall election. As of Tuesday, there was no announced candidate to challenge Vos if enough signatures are gathered to force an election.

Vos has 10 days to challenge signatures that were collected. He can challenge on a variety of grounds, including that a person signed more than once, signed someone else’s name or doesn’t live in the legislative district. He can also challenge if he believes the person circulating the petition misled the signer about its intent or if a signature was not collected during the allowable circulation period.

The elections commission has 31 days to determine if the petition has enough valid signatures, which can be appealed in court. If a petition is determined to be sufficient, a recall election must be called for six weeks later.

The commission has a meeting on June 27, which is the day before the deadline to determine if a recall should be ordered. If it votes at that meeting to call one, under state law the election would be Aug. 6 — just one week before the regular fall primary on Aug. 13.

If more than two candidates run in a recall election, the primary for that would be Aug. 6 with the recall election Sept. 3.

That could potentially create a scenario in which recall elections or the recall primary, are decided a week before Vos appears on the Aug. 13 primary ballot as a candidate for a new two-year term as speaker starting in January.

No Republican has yet filed to challenge Vos in the primary for the November election.

If he is recalled, Vos would lose his office for the remainder of the year. The Legislature is not scheduled to be in session again until January.

Vos angered Trump and his supporters in Wisconsin by refusing calls to decertify President Joe Biden’s narrow win in the state in 2020. Biden’s win of about 21,000 votes has withstood two partial recounts, numerous lawsuits, an independent audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Vos further angered Trump supporters when he did not back a plan to impeach Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top elections official.

Wolfe has been a target of those who falsely believe Trump won Wisconsin in 2020.

Vos has repeatedly said he was not in favor of impeaching Wolfe because there was not enough support among fellow Republicans to do so. He has said he wants to see Wolfe replaced, but a judge last year blocked the Legislature from taking steps to remove her.

Scott Bauer, The Associated Press