Republicans want Gov. Evers to hold special election for Secretary of State office, here's why he won't

NOW: Republicans want Gov. Evers to hold special election for Secretary of State office, here’s why he won’t

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republicans passed a resolution Wednesday calling on Gov. Tony Evers to hold a special election to fill the Secretary of State's office after he appointed former Treasurer Sarah Godlewski on Friday.

State law doesn't require a governor to call a special election, but he does have the authority to do so. Evers said he has no intentions of calling one.

The move by Republicans comes after they criticized his appointment of Sara Godlewski in wake of an abrupt resignation from Secretary of State Doug La Follette on Friday.

Godlewski, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year and served from 2019 to 2022 as state treasurer, was appointed by Evers after La Follette said in his resignation letter he wanted to "focus on his personal needs" and decided he no longer wanted to spend the rest of his term running an "office without adequate resources."

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu was the most outspoken GOP leader about Evers decision, saying the appointment of Godlewski was "an insult to voters of Wisconsin and our democratic process."

The resolution, introduced by LeMahieu and Senate President Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), is more of a political statement since it would have no effect. 

Still, Republicans are questioning the move because they say it's unusual for La Follette to leave office three months after inauguration and serving in the role since 1982. La Follette defeated his Republican opponent Rep. Amy Loudenbeck by 7,442 votes in November, securing him a 12th term.

"The governor has appointed an unelected person to fill an elective position," LeMahieu said during his speech on the Senate floor. "Let the people speak. Let democracy work out it's process." 

Evers dismissed Republicans criticism and rejected claims he planned to appoint Godlewski after she dropped out of the U.S. Senate race. 

"There was no collusion, he [La Follette] brought my office a letter saying I'm sick of this stuff," Evers said. "He left and I appointed a completely competent person to do the work."

Evers said he appointed Godlewski because she previously served in state office. He also added Republicans didn't give him any pushback after he appointed Carolyn Stanford Taylor as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a position Evers previously held before elected to his first term in 2019. 

Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) said Republicans are picking a fight on the issue after losing the Secretary of State race in November along with a series of defeats for statewide offices. 

"It's hard losing elections," Roys said. "It's especially hard to lose an election to an 82-year-old man who didn't even campaign," she said referring to La Follette's age. "In November, Democrats won. Governor Evers won, and governors have the power to appoint people to vacant positions."

Share this article: