The primary election in the recall campaigns against Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four state Senate Republicans will be held Tuesday, May 8.
Five candidates will be on the ballot in the Democratic primary for governor and two candidates will be on the Republican ballot.
In Waupaca County, none of the state Senate recalls will be on the ballot.
Walker, who was elected governor in 2010, became the target of recall efforts shortly after he introduced a bill that virtually eliminated collective bargaining for public workers.
Opposition to Walker’s budget sparked protests throughout the state in the spring and summer of 2011, including two rallies in Waupaca.
In 2011, two Republican state senators were successfully recalled. Democrats needed to successfully recall four Republican incumbents in order to regain control of the state Senate.
In March of this year, Pam Galloway, one of the Republican senators targeted in the 2012 recall, announced her resignation and the GOP lost its majority in the Senate.
Walker is campaigning on his record of reducing the state deficit and cutting taxes.
With the help of the Republican majority in the state Legislature, Walker has also signed into law several landmark bills, including a Voter ID law that has been blocked by the state courts and a redistricting plan that has been blocked in federal court.
First elected to public office in 1993, Walker served in the state Assembly until 2002, when he successfully ran for Milwaukee County executive in a special election. Walker’s predecessor as county executive, Tom Ament, had resigned after 100,000 signatures were collected on petitions seeking his recall.
Running against the incumbent governor in the GOP primary is Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a 23-year-old Madison resident who dresses up as Abraham Lincoln, attends protest rallies organized by both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party and claims to be the “real” Republican running for governor.
“People can call me the fake Republican, and I encourage them to look at what Republicans stood for, what they stand for, what they were founded on,” Kohl-Riggs said. He contends that he represents the progressive legacy of Republicans such as Lincoln and Robert La Follette.
Kohl-Riggs has asked comedian Stephen Colbert to moderate a debate between him and Walker.
The state Republican Party also ran fake Democrats in order to force a recall primary.
At the top of the Democratic ballot for governor will be the name of Gladys Huber, a Mequon retiree and a member of the Ozaukee County Republican Party.
Huber ran as a fake Democrat in the recall against Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling in 2011. According to campaign finance records, she contributed to Darlng’s campaign, as well as to the campaigns of Republicans Scott Fitzgerald, Glen Grothman and Scott Walker.
The four candidates running for the Democratic nomination for governor are Kathleen Falk, Tom Barrett, Kathleen Vinehout and Doug La Follette.
Falk was elected as Dane County executive in 1997 and re-elected three more times. Prior to being the longest-serving executive in the Dane County’s history, Falk served 12 years as an environmental attorney with Wisconsin’s Office of the Public Intervener.
In 2006, Falk won the Democratic primary against Peg Lautenschlager, the incumbent state attorney general. Falk then lost to Republican candidate J.B. Van Hollen by 9,000 votes. The margin between Falk and Van Hollen was less than 0.5 percent of the total vote statewide.
Barrett has served as the mayor of Milwaukee since 2004, winning his last election with 79 percent of the vote.
In 2010, Barrett lost the gubernatorial race to Walker 52 percent to 47 percent, garnering 124,000 less votes than his Republican opponent.
Prior to being elected mayor, Barrett was a member in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2003. He has also served as a member of the state Assembly and the state Senate.
Vinehout was elected to the state Senate in 2006, defeating Republican incumbent Ron Brown in Wisconsin’s west central District 31.
Her family owns a farm in Alma. Prior to her election to the Senate, Vinehout was president of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association in Buffalo County and a part-time advocate in Madison for the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
La Follette was first elected as Wisconsin’s secretary of state in 1974. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1978, then ran again and was elected as secretary of state in 1984. He has been in that office ever since.
Prior to his tenure as secretary of state, La Follette was active in the environmental movement. He helped Gaylord Nelson organize the first Earth Day in 1970 and is a co-founder of Clean Wisconsin.
In the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, Kleefisch is running unopposed. Prior to being elected as Walker’s running mate in 2010, Kleefisch was a reporter and an anchor for WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She later became a contributor to Charlie Syke’s program on WTMJ radio.
Walker designated Kleefisch as the administration’s liaison to small businesses. In 2011, she hosted small business roundtables throughout the state.
In the Democratic primary, three candidates are on the ballot for lieutenant governor.
Mahlon Mitchell is a Milwaukee native who became a Madison firefighter 15 years ago. He has also worked as a counselor for a summer camp that helps young burn victims cope with their injuries.
Mitchell is the president of the state firefighters union. Although firefighters, along with police, were exempted from Walker’s bill to end collective bargaining, Mitchell joined other public workers in the protests at Madison.
Isaac Weix is the Republican protest candidate in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
He garnered 45 percent of the Democratic primary vote in the 2011 Senate recall race.
On his Facebook page, Weix wrote, “Send the libs a message, vote for me in the primary May 8.”
Also on the Democratic primary ballot for lieutenant governor is Ira B. Robins, a private investigator in Milwaukee.
Earlier this week, Robins wrote to the National Democratic Committee, complaining that the Wisconsin Democratic Party had endorsed Mitchell in the primary.
The central tenet of Robins campaign is that he will not accept campaign contributions from Super PACS or special interest groups.