Ethics: Should An Incumbent Announce When NOT Running For Re-election?

A local elected official is not running for re-election in the coming 2015 Spring election. I have verified this with three different sources. I have contacted the incumbent on two different occasions and not received a reply. I have reached out to three sources who write about this area of government and confirmed that they heard the incumbent is not running…but through the grapevine…not official channels…they have not seen a press release announcing that the seat will go unchallenged. So insiders may know but not the general public.

We are now two full weeks into the limited time allowed to secure nomination paper signatures to get on the ballot. That period ends January 6th, 2015 I believe. I am only aware of one candidate who is circulating papers for the position…a friend and associate of the incumbent. That has been confirmed from a number of sources as well.

So is the lack of an announcement a ploy to protect a friend who is taking up a campaign? Is lack of an announcement keeping other candidates from entering the fray because they don’t want to take on an incumbent? Open seats historically draw a lot of interest…take the recent open seat in the 19th Assembly District when Rep. Jon Richards ran for Wisconsin Attorney General!

Such an action apparently isn’t illegal…but I did reach out to the Government Accountability Board for their take on the subject…but haven’t had a reply either.

But even if legal, I don’t feel it’s ethical. A level playing field demands that everyone knows when an incumbent decides not to seek re-election.


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16 thoughts on “Ethics: Should An Incumbent Announce When NOT Running For Re-election?

  1. Some states set an earlier filing deadline for incumbents than non-incumbents (which would eliminate this problem altogether), but Wisconsin is, if I’m not mistaken, not one of them.

    Also, could you name the office in question where this local elected official is trying to hide the fact that he’s not running for re-election from the general public?

  2. Yeah, the deadline for incumbents to submit a notification of non-candidacy is December 26th. If incumbents do not submit a notification of non-candidacy and do not submit signatures by January 6th, the deadline for non-incumbents to submit signatures is extended by 72 hours.

    I’m surprised your plethora of sources did not mention that. This blog needs to stop being dumb.

    1. Dennis, I think it’s unfortunate you have such a low opinion of Blogging Blue, but I’m not surprised, given what I know about what you’ve had to say about me to others.

    1. Thanks Ed…but as Dennis posted they have until 5 PM December 26th to do so…which can be an issue to someone who has to make a last minute decision to run and then collect hundreds of signatures in less than two weeks.

  3. Well clearly it is unethical and probably anti woman and racist if a republic were to pull this stunt… If a democrat were to do it we wouldn’t be talking about it anywhere…

    1. Chris…follow these instructions very carefully…remove shoe…open wide…insert foot.

    2. This really isn’t a partisan issue at all. I feel like the public has a right to know what an incumbent’s intentions are as soon as reasonably possible. Potential candidates should have more than 11 days (give or take) to get all the required signatures to get on the ballot.

      1. It would probably be less time than that. If they file at the absolute latest time on Friday December 26th, it probably wouldn’t be available to the public until the following Monday morning

  4. In Wisconsin, if an incumbent is not going to file for reelection they are required to file a Statement of Non-Candidacy. If they do not file that one page form then the deadline to circulate nomination papers is extended.

    Maybe you should check on whether the candidate filed that form. You may find out that they filed it the first day they were allowed to.

    1. Thanks Stan. But as we’ve determined they don’t have to file until 5 pm December 26th…which gives potential opponents until January 6th to accomplish what they would have had time to do from December 1st…with proper notice.

      1. Right, but if you checked I would bet the candidate you are referring to filed their Statement of Non-Candidacy on December 1, the first day they are allowed to file. I mean, it would be embarrassing for you if that was already publicly filed and thus your whole post incorrect.

        1. Stan was so intent on preventing my embarrassment that he sent two comments on the topic today. I am going to spend some time going over those posts,a bit of how I feel about the whole matter and a little housekeeping.

          First, Stan’s comments went to moderation because he used an invalid email address. I couldn’t approve or unapprove them because as regular readers know, I can’t work on Blogging Blue during my work day. Any actions on comments need to wait until I am available. In the meantime, Zach did in fact approve both of them but I removed the second post.

          Now, I removed the second post because it clearly identified the incumbent and the race I was talking about…something that I have avoided doing so far here on BB. Certainly some of the people that I have talked to and some people who know me could figure it out…but I didn’t want to disclose the information for a number of reasons. I don’t know Stan so I imagine he’s an insider considering the information he has provided.

          Stan is correct…the incumbent did in fact file a Statement of Non-candidacy…and it has been posted appropriately. That satisfies the law. But I don’t believe that he is correct that December 1st is the first day that the form can be filed. As far as I can tell from the GAB site there is only a deadline. So it seems that this form could been have filed earlier.

          But there is still something else at play here…and that is ethics…and hiding in plain site and following the law doesn’t necessary make an action an ethical one.

          As I said in my post, I reached out to several people who write about this area and they hadn’t heard anything…there were no discernable press releases…and I don’t remember seeing any press. Senator Tim Cullen announced he wasn’t running in September 2013 for a seat up for election in November 2014. It takes time to raise money and a campaign and December 1st to January 6th isn’t a whole lot of time. Particularly for candidates who might only consider running when they know a seat will be vacant. Again I mention the race for Jon Richard’s state assembly seat.

          And I also stated that I reached out the candidate…twice…with no response. I could easily have worked with the incumbent to make a timely announcement here on BB…and I know that we didn’t receive a press release of any kind either.

          This essentially started out as a rhetorical musing based on real life events. With the GOP threatening the GAB, it’s good to talk about ethics in elections.

          Goals that I would like to see in coming elections: more qualified candidates,more contested primaries and more turnover in elected positions. But we can’t necessarily accomplish that if we meet the letter of the law but don’t give every potential candidate a fair shake at running a campaign.

        2. I confirmed with the GAB what I assumed after reading their site and the notes to filling out the GAB-163. There are no restrictions on how long before an election an incumbent can complete the form stating that they will not seek re-election. OTOH: completing that form does not prohibit them from changing their mind and filing to run for re-election at a later date.

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