Some drama in the 75th Assembly District

Up in Wisconsin’s 75th Assembly District, two Democrats and four Republicans are vying for the seat currently held by State Rep. Mary Hubler, who announced earlier this year she wouldn’t stand for reelection, and now that the candidates have handed in their nomination forms, there appears to be an interesting challenge to the candidacy of Matt Bitz, one of the two Democrats vying for the seat.

According to a press release issued by the group Wisconsin Progress, Bitz isn’t eligible to be a candidate for the State Assembly, as he hasn’t lived in Wisconsin for at least a year:

Wisconsin Progress filed a complaint to Mr. Bitz’s attempt to be placed on the November 2nd ballot this fall seeking to represent the 75th District. The complaint filed by Kristen Crowell, Executive Director of Wisconsin Progress, clearly outlines the facts that Mr. Bitz does not meet the eligibility requirements clearly set forth in the Wisconsin State Constitution, Article IV, Section 6 : “no person shall be eligible to the legislature who shall not have resided one year within the state…”

“Wisconsin Progress takes very seriously the access of candidates to the ballot. Mr. Bitz has not been a Wisconsin resident long enough to qualify to serve in the state legislature and we have verification of his voting record in New York City. That is the sole basis of the complaint, “ says Kristen Crowell.

At issue is Bitz’s status as a registered voter in the State of New York, where he voted as recently as the 2009 general election. Bitz registered as a voter in New York in 2008, and in his response to the challenge to his ballot status, Bitz argued that while he was registered as a voter in New York, he never relinquished his Wisconsin residency.

In response to the press release issued by Wisconsin Progress, Bitz’s campaign was quick to issue a press release responding to the challenge to Bitz’s status on the ballot, but instead of responding directly to the allegation, Bitz instead chose to paint the challenge to his ballot status as part of some grand conspiracy on the part of Kristen Crowell of Wisconsin Progress and Nicholl Caruso, current head of the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee (ADCC), who once upon a time was Crowell’s boss at Progressive Majority Wisconsin.

I don’t know enough about Matt Bitz to begin to formulate a theory as to why Kristen Crowell and Wisconsin Progress would conspire with Nicholl Caruso of the ADCC to keep Bitz off the ballot, but this is certainly political theater worth watching.


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7 thoughts on “Some drama in the 75th Assembly District

    1. No, I don’t. I believe Bitz didn’t have residency in Wisconsin, based on his voting record in New York.

  1. In any case, according to the memo on the website, GAB staff is recommending that Bitz be removed from the ballot, stating that he is not constitutionally eligible to serve. If that’s the case, it’s a good thing they’re taking him off the ballot–otherwise if he won the primary and the general and then someone challenged him, the state would have to waste money on a special election.

    1. I don’t disagree with your overall point, but take issue with the whole “waste money on a special election.” For the life of me, I can’t understand why when circumstances necessitate it, special elections are a waste of money. If a seat is open, I find it completely improper to be filled by someone who was not elected by the people. Either the seat should stay vacant or the people who’s district is temporarily unrepresented pony up the money to pay for the election.

  2. Absolutely special elections are not a waste of money when they are not resulting from foreseeable circumstances. But in this case, since there was a strong possibility that Bitz was ineligible, it would have been a waste of money to let him stay on the ballot, get elected, and then have to step down.

    But in the case of U.S. senate vacancies, they should do exactly what was done in Massachusetts: temporary “elder statesman” appointment who pledges not to run in the special election, then special election within 2-3 months at most. Because the Senate is only 100 seats instead of 435, it is important to get it filled temporarily with an appointment. But that appointment shouldn’t be able to just coast until the next general election and then run as an incumbent.

    1. OK, I get where you’re coming from. In terms of a couple of guys discussing things on a blog in terms of what makes sense & is or isn’t reasonable that’s one thing, but in terms of how “forseeable circumstances” might be defined if something were actually put into practice would be problematic. If somebody runs for a higher office, would it be forseeable that he/she could win & vacate their current office (ie the President’s former Senate seat)?

      A temporary appointment of someone who cannot run is probably a reasonable compromise. But we’ll have to agree to disagree, I still don’t believe some one unelected should serve as a representative of the people or a state in Congress. (I’m undecided on the argument for a repeal of the 17th amendment, but if it were repealed I would no longer argue Senators must be elected, only House members.)

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