Assembly leaders split on the question of moving forward with Tuesday’s election, with Majority Leader Jim Steineke saying this is no time to “upend” things, and Minority Leader Gordon Hintz warning of “catastrophic consequences” of going ahead with the vote during a pandemic.
Both lawmakers appeared Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
Gov. Tony Evers on Friday called a special session, asking lawmakers to meet on Saturday to delay the election until May, and move it to all mail-in balloting. Republicans rejected his request, and the session was quickly gaveled in and out on Saturday.
“To come in at the last minute and try to upend things, and do an election in a completely different way that we just don’t have the infrastructure for right now, or the security just to secure the votes, just doesn’t make sense,” said Steineke, R-Kaukauna.
Steineke knocked the governor for “feckless leadership” for waiting until roughly 100 hours before the election to call for delaying it.
“He’s got to give some people some certainty. … (Y)ou’ve got to take some strong positions and stick to them to give people some certainty on how things are going to go,” Steineke said. “And that’s one of the frustrations that we’ve had.”
“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen about the wisdom of asking people to show up and vote during a deadly pandemic.
“This is a challenging time for all of us. When it comes to this election process, we looked at everything. There is no good answer,” Steineke said.
In a separate interview, Hintz said there is still time for lawmakers to meet and move the election. He said asking people to go to the polls on Tuesday goes against everything that state officials are telling them with a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“This is increasingly looking like a terrible decision and certainly by Tuesday there will be significant risk of transmission, spreading of the virus, and obviously overwhelming our hospitals, which I think are already feeling the weight of how fast this is spreading,” said Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
“We can still act, and we can prevent this from happening in a legally certain way,” he said about the Legislature. “We have the ability to act.”
Pedersen asked Hintz why other states had been able to postpone their elections, and not Wisconsin. Hintz said other states have different statutes and had a longer time frame in which to act. Wisconsin lacked a “clear path,” he said.
“I think we’ll really regret going through with this,” Hintz said.
In another segment, two political strategists said the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court is a “coin flip” heading into Tuesday. Democrat Joe Zepecki and Republican Brian Reisinger discussed the effect of the outbreak on the election and the campaigns.
See more from the program: http://www.wisn.com/upfront