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Will the Real Candidates in the Recall Elections Please Stand Up?

Could Wisconsin politics get any weirder? Wait, don't answer that question. Now, we've got a Republican primary because Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a guy running as a "progressive Republican" has thrown his hat into the ring.

Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a scruffy-haired 23-year-old political activist who used to serve pizza at the Children’s Museum in Madison until a few weeks ago, says he is not a "fake Republican."

But he’s not a traditional Republican, either.

Kohl-Riggs is running against Gov. Scott Walker in the Republican primary after he collected and turned in more than 2,200 signatures to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board this week. If the GAB, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, votes to allow him on the ballot, Kohl-Riggs will be Walker's sole opponent in the May 8 primary.

So, if he’s not a Democrat or traditional Republican, what political flag does Kohl-Riggs fly?

He describes himself as a “progressive Republican,” following the political lines of former Wisconsin Sen. Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette and Abraham Lincoln.

Related:

And the reason Kohl-Riggs wants his name on the GOP ballot is because he wants to force Republicans to vote for Gov. Scott Walker in the primary instead of meddling in the Democratic primary, he said.

If Walker ran uncontested, Republicans could vote in the the Democratic primary and cast a ballot for the Democrat they think would be Walker's weakest opponent in the June general election. Having a challenger in the GOP primary provides incentive to the Republicans to vote for Walker in the primary.

Is he a 'fake'?

“I do not consider myself a 'fake Republican' and I distinguish myself from them because the ‘fake Democrats’ are actually staffed by the GOP and their presence in the election is to game the system because it creates a primary and pushes back the election by a month,” Kohl-Riggs said.

These seemingly back room-type political decisions are legal in the state of Wisconsin.

Reid Magney, spokesman for the GAB, explained in an email that voters could cast ballots in the party of their choosing since they are not required to register by political party.

“For example, you may vote in the Republican primary for governor, the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor and a Democratic primary for state senator. But you may not vote in both the Republican and Democratic primaries for governor,” Magney said.

”When people go in to an election booth, they want to know who they are voting for and why."

Earlier this month state that they were running “protest candidates” against senators targeted for recall, as well as Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

In a press release on the state party's website, Executive Director Stephan Thompson said the reason for running protest candidates is so elections line up on the same day across the state. The GAB set the primaries for May 8 and the general election for June 5. But in any races in which there had been no primaries, May 8 would have been the general election date.

There also is an to write-in Walker's name in the Democratic primary as well.

And Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said “some Republicans may vote for Falk in the Democratic primary because polling shows she does not perform as well as Barrett in head-to-head matchups with GOP Gov. Scott Walker,” according to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"There's nothing to keep the Republicans from messing around," Fitzgerald said.

What's the party line?

Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, calls running the fake candidates “un-American” and “a perversion of Democracy.”

Zielinski said the party had no role in Kohl-Riggs’ decision to run and it doesn’t condone running fake candidates.

“That’s like the Republicans embracing fake candidates,” Zielinski said. “It’s a joke. It’s a farce, a daily farce. And it’s being done with Walker’s blessing and it has no precedence and Walker has no regard for anything.”

"When people go in to an election booth, they want to know who they are voting for and why," Zielinski added. "This is fundamental to Democracy and Scott Walker is trying to pervert that principle.”

An attorney for the Democratic party on Thursday .

But Ben Sparks, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, released the following statement regarding protest candidates:

“The complaint filed (Thursday) by Attorney Jeremy Levinson is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Last year, the Government Accountability Board certified the placement of all protest candidates to appear on the ballot, and its Executive Director Kevin Kennedy even stated publicly that running protest candidates did not violate the law.

"We’re confident that each of the candidates will appear on the May 8 ballot, ensuring clear primary and general election dates," Sparks added.

Dirty politics or not?

John McAdams, associate professor of political science at Marquette University, said what is a dirty tactic depends on what was normal in the past.

Since the Republicans ran fake Democrats in the recall elections last year, the move served their interest because they were able to put off the general election.

“It’s hard to call something 'dirty,' if it’s completely transparent,” he said.

This year the Republicans want all of the recall elections on the same day and they hope they can gain an advantage if they have a large turnout.

The Republicans think that will help them win and they are probably right,” McAdams said. “Sometimes what seems to be fair actually helps one party.”

Naive One April 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I'm in.
Gloria Anderson April 14, 2012 at 04:06 PM
You are not there are no white people you all mixed wow really
Gloria Anderson April 14, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I don't know why people o make this white and black? people you are all mixed interracial babies have been born produced in this country since the beginning of america
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) April 14, 2012 at 04:20 PM
@AWD - what in the world does Arthur Kohl-Riggs have to do with the murder of Trayvon Martin? Let's stay on task, please.
The Anti-Alinsky April 14, 2012 at 05:08 PM
It would be easiest if the unionistas, Progressives, and Liberals realized that the Wisconsin voter woke up to the failed policies of Jim Doyle and the Democrats. You never saw a recall threat by Conservatives. We waited until the next election cycle to offer voters an alternative, which they jumped on. Now you want to return to those failed policies?
Vicki Bennett April 14, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Michael Moody just can't get his head around the fact that unions are made up of hard working people who just want a fair, living wage with benefits. I'm betting that many union members voted Republican before Walker took office. They were blind-sided by a conservative neophyte who doesn't care about the average Wisconsin citizen. His goal has always been to get to Washington DC. Ever notice how he seemed to arrange to have his face on TV every chance he could get until he became governor and did his dirty deeds? Now he's hiding unless it's a prearranged, well planned event scheduled around the media and his supporters. Walker is a bully who's never held a normal job outside politics. I'd like to see him work in a factory or labor in the steno pool for a year. He'd be singing a different tune.
CowDung April 14, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Walker has indeed held a 'normal job', outside of politics, unless you think that one has to work in a factory or a steno pool in order to have a 'real' job...
morninmist April 14, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Little lonely Becka. Where are the other TeaGOP politicians?? Wisconsin's lieutenant governor told several thousand tea party supporters rallying outside the state Capitol Saturday that Wisconsin is the focus of the nation as the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker plays out. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was the only politician to address the crowd....... Read more: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/elections/tea-party-supporters-rally-at-the-state-capitol/article_96e99042-8670-11e1-a37b-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1s3KtBWq8
morninmist April 14, 2012 at 09:49 PM
oops. the attendance dropped to 'hundreds'. scottwalkerwatch ‏ @scottwalkerwtch Video and photos from today's poorly attended Koch Brothers-sponsored Teabilly Astroturf Rally http://bit.ly/HS1dRT #wirecall #wiunion #p2 MADISON (WKOW) -- Hundreds rallied at the Capitol on Saturday-- for lower taxes and more limited government. The "Tax Day" rally was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin. Organizers say they aim to bring energy and enthusiasm back to the Capitol, and bring the focus back to the taxpayers.....
Jim April 14, 2012 at 11:33 PM
George, I have heard both commentators and I find Mr. Lee maddeningly centrist and even handed. On the other hand, I have never heard McAdams say anything on important issues that does not take a Walker position. I could not remember the exact instances I was thinking of so in response to your challenge I googled "John McAdams Scott Walker". What I found is that McAdams is careful not to be overtly partisan, however his comments consistently, one after another after another, minimize both Walker's problems and anti Walker issues. This is true on the indictments of Walker's hand picked County employees, the recall before it occurred and after, his polling service that finds Walker increasing support---though polling experts fault the Marquette polls for methodology and consistently not syncing with other polls, just to name a few. Look it up for your self and I think you will see that it is not so much what he said at any one time, but the consistency of his comments that excuse or lean to ideas that benefit a Walker campaign. I do not believe in the need for equal time for biased viewpoints masquerading as objective comments, just identify the lack of objectivity displayed by labeling the commentator for what he is.
Mimi April 15, 2012 at 04:09 AM
The point being that if Republicans plan to vote in the Democratic primary and forgo their vote in the Repubican primary then Walker has a problem if all his supporters are voting as Democrats. It simply levels the field that Walker has FAKE democrats forcing primaries in the Democratic primary it is only fair that then Walker also endure a primary.
Mimi April 15, 2012 at 04:13 AM
And yet Michael Moody you have no problem with the Republicans admitting they are running fakes. Funny how you justify the action when committeed by the originators of the process then call foul when the tables are turned. I didn't hear any of you shouting fakes, criminals when Walker publicly announced that his party was running fake Democrats to avoid losing the last recall of the Republicans.
BestRegards April 15, 2012 at 06:01 AM
I'm kind of fascinated by this primary challenge for governor. I'm sitting here reading Erika Janik's A Short History of Wisconsin and find that this entrant get's something about Wisconsin and the history of the Republican party. As wacky as this seems at first glance, I think this is might very important. Some of my favorite politicians cut there teeth as republican agitators.
Dirk April 15, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Can the Dems further discredit their reputation any lower on behalf of selling out to the unions? Except for the unions up north, though...... What a waste of the taxpayers $$, which further supports Governor of the Year's initiatives. Unlike our neighbor to the south of us, it's nice to have responsible leadership in our state for once.
morninmist April 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM
@Dirk oh yeah--the web based just started one person "journal" who voted Scooter as Gov of the Year. ha ha. You are a funny one.
Lyle Ruble April 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM
@Dirk....Sell out to the unions? Where's the proof? If you think the unions are calling the shots, then you would have to acknowledge that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Wisconsin Realtors Association, Koch Industries, etc. are calling the shots for the Republicans. I don't believe in conspiracies, but I do believe in political chicanery. Each political party is attempting to leverage the other into a greater position of weakness. Both parties a playing bare knuckle politics. We have a choice to make in less than two months and this will represent an election that will be a true reflection of the public will. Everyone knows what Walker is all about now and his agenda is truly transparent. Viva Liberty!
skinnyDUDE April 15, 2012 at 03:54 PM
What if a conservative runs as a democrat because he thinks that party is too liberal ? Bottom line is all is fair in politics and STRATEGY is a big part of it . We all know this .....if liberals could lead half as good as they whine they be far better off. The Liberal plan of Higher taxes , bigger deficits , bad business policies , inflation , killing the mining bill and higher unemployment etc etc etc........and they are upset that Republicans have a strategy to try to stop that. GIVE ME A BREAK!
TBoon April 15, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I´m an independent and I think voting against Walker in the primary is worth doing. If Walker gets reelected, I´ll be ashamed to have been born and raised in Wisconsin. I have always been proud of being a Wisconsinite and have been proud of its historical role in the development of rights for all working people. I don´t belong to a public union but I do know a number of teachers and people who either belong to or work for a public union. They are hard working, ethical people (-Not like the person we elected to the governer´s office during a recent election.) I personally owe the continued existence of all my personal possessions to firemen who saved our house from burning down one Halloween night when they arrived and had water on our house in less than 5 minutes after we called to report that the house next door (located about 5 feet from us) was on fire. Thank you Wisconsin Public workers!
$$andSense April 15, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Let's keep your thought going. So what would have happened if they were unlucky? One relatively snow less winter and the next turns into the Pleistocene. Let's see, YOU have a commercial driver's license, can pass a random drug test, are available 24/7 irregardless of holidays, and can show up sober and drug free anytime from Oct. to May which can be snow months in WI. And you are willing to volunteer for no pay. Our community ( as well as the rest of the state) has been looking for people like you, and have yet to see one come forward. Game on buddy, man up and get out there.
$$andSense April 15, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Let's play your logic. If the snowplowers were not lucky, what is the alternative? Rely on volunteers that have: 1) a CDL, 2) can report 24/7 sober and drug free from Oct. to May irregardless of holidays, and 3) can pass a random D&A test anytime? This is the federal standard. Our community would love to have volunteers like that. Are you one of them? Or just forget snowplowing and let the everyone fend for themselves? Or go the example of the like of Town of Waukesha and make something that should be as simple as snowplowing a legal battle costing the taxpayer far more than gov't provided service. Take your pick.
Chas Jones April 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Think about what you said! People who voted for walker expecting him to do the people's work. Instead he became a demi-dictator. At least he tried, but failed his party; the people; and hopefully he will be unemployed soon. Return Wisc back into a freedom loving democracy. GBA
Chas Jones April 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM
skinny dude: America is a democracy, Wisc is a democracy. One man, one vote. You run on a party platform and may the best candidate win. If they run on an issue and then change their mind, the people have a right to fire them. As "shrub" stated "dicktators are ok as long as I am the the dicktator" cheeze, what a retarded party! GBA
CowDung April 16, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I believe that 'straight ticket' voting was something different than what we are discussing, Linda...
morninmist April 16, 2012 at 05:44 AM
@skinny--is whining about liberals whining. ha ha. "..if liberals could lead half as good as they whine they be far better off. "
upset father April 16, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Thank god for Scott Walker !
morninmist April 16, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Thanks to all Recall folks who signed to get Walker OUT.
Flyer April 17, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Art for Gov! Last time I checked, there's not a John Doe inestigation leading to Arthur Kohl-Riggs' door step, and he's not begging for cash for his legal defense fund. I believe he may be the GOP candidate for Governor that has the best chance of not completing his term while awaiting trial on federal charges.
morninmist April 17, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Gee whiz The TeaGOP is not in a hurry to open their wallets to pay off Scooters lawyers. We Are Wisconsin ‏ @WeRWisconsin BREAKING: @GovWalker owes more than $55k in legal fees due to his ongoing Criminal Corruption Probe http://bit.ly/IVcnrp #WIunion #Wirecall 27m Kelly Steele Kelly Steele ‏ @steelekelly A full 69 days before Scott Walker filed his legal defense fund, he owed his high-priced attorneys at least $55K. #wiunion #wirecall #p2
morninmist April 18, 2012 at 02:45 PM
This cartoon points out the fakery of the WI TeaGOP very well. http://www.philhandscartoons.com/gallery/vieworder.php?c=274
Eric S. April 26, 2012 at 04:51 PM
He seems pretty genuine to me. He is certainly more informed then the other candidates. Give the guy a shot. I suspect he would be popular among students at the very least. The republicans opened themselves up to allowing an underdog to actually have a chance in the primary. I doubt there will be many crossover votes. If people vote for him, then they agree with him.

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