The election results from both June 5 recall election in the 21st State Senate District and the subsequent recount will stand as incumbent Republican Van Wanggaard decided Tuesday not to challenge the results that show him losing to Democrat John Lehman by more than 800 votes.
"My first call this morning was to leave a message for John confirming that I will not file a challenge in the courts at this point," Wanggaard told Patch.
However, Wanggaard made it clear that he still has concerns about how the election was run — and he said will run for the seat again in 2014.
What his decision came down to, he said, was that the five days he was given between the end of the recount and the deadline to appeal it wasn't enough time to fully investigate even some of the objections his campaign has received concerning issues in the City of Racine.
"There was just so much smoke created by what happened in the city that it's overwhelming," he said. "We have smoke, but no gun, so it doesn't make sense to file an appeal even with over 1,000 objections to things like missing names, missing addresses and missing signatures."
The purpose of the recount was to verify the tally, but he said it also served to highlight the election inadequacies in Racine. Wanggaard pointed to 25 Republicans who stepped forward to serve as poll workers, but weren't allowed to do so by city administration. He said imagines there were probably an equal number on the Democrats' side who were told the same thing.
"We had plenty of people who wanted to work that day, and I'm sure the Democrats did, too. Instead, the city used a temp agency and those workers lacked the proper training on how to administer an election," he said. "It could have been intentional, to look for ways to be slipshod, and I don't know why. It was hectic and busy at every polling location, and to have so many rules not followed really calls the process and the integrity of the election into question."
"We have smoke, but no gun, so it doesn't make sense to file an appeal even with over 1,000 objections..."
What is causing so much concern is the large number of same-day registrations in Racine. According to Wanggaard, 4,400 voters registered on June 5 and the documents used to verify residency are questionable.
"So we're going to be looking through all of those to be sure everyone is an eligible voter," he said.
The Journal Times reported Tuesday that city officials admitted to not yet sending out postcards to verify same-day registrants, primarily because of the large number that need to get entered into the state's system and from participating in the recount. But Wanggaard said those cards need to be mailed within 10 days and even read the statute to us to prove his point.
"The city hasn't done it and why not?" he asked. "We're talking hundreds or potentially thousands of registrations that aren't good. This is something that has to get done."
Now that Wanggaard has made his decision, the state Government Accountability Board will certify the results by 8 a.m. Wednesday, officially returning Democrat John Lehman to his seat in Madison. The term is up for re-election in November 2014.
with a lead of 834 votes. Wanggaard requested a recount on June 20, and it completed on July 2 with the same result.
Lehman calls recount 'needless distraction'
For his part, Lehman said he's relieved to put the election behind him and is ready get to work in Madison.
"All this back-and-forth was needless distraction," he said about the election and the recount. "The Republicans keep talking about fraud, but I've seen very little of that, of people intentionally schnookering the system. There were irregularities in the city, but not real cheating."
Of getting to work in Madison, Lehman said he's already there.
"The Legislature may not be in session, but legislators are working," he noted. "In fact, we're hoping to get an agreement with Republicans to call a special session on jobs."
Still, he recognizes that he didn't win by a large margin and that he is now representing a lot of people who didn't vote for him.
"I am not 'Landslide Lehman,'" he acknowledged. "I know I have to work on getting to the people I represent who didn't vote for me, and I think jobs legislation is a good place to start."
Can Lehman hold the seat?
Brad Wojciechowski, communications director for the State Senate Democratic Committee, said the party is looking forward to November and beyond.
"We are looking forward to defending our majority in November and feel we have a great chance to continue our majority after November," he said.
The returns would have been end of Tuesday. Despte citing concerns over how the recall election in the in particular, Wanggaard said that while he is not filing a challenge, he expects the investigations into "voter irregularities" will continue and evidence will be provided to law enforcement.
Bill Folk, chairman of the Racine County GOP, said he respects Wanggaard's decision.
"It was determined there wasn't enough to move forward with a challenge, and we support that decision," he said. "But the party remains disheartened that this election was predicated on people voting for a senator who does not represent most of the voters in the new district."
Wanggaard noted that the recall elections in 2012 have already cost state taxpayers $20 million, and he is not interested in wasting more money.
But, he told Patch he's not giving up.
“Yes, I will be running again in 2014," he confirmed.
It's a few months, though, until he can file the paperwork to become a candidate again, but Wanggaard said he'll be plenty busy until then working with small business owners to try and create jobs in Racine County and across the state.
"Just because I'm not in office right now doesn't mean I'm giving that up," he stated. "I still know and can work with a lot of people in Madison to continue the work that I've been doing for the past two years, bringing jobs to Racine County and to Wisconsin. I have to keep the focus on doing that because it is still most important to do whatever I can do to get more jobs here."