Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette has taken three months off his 11th consecutive term “to focus on his personal needs” after seeing his powers stripped away over the past 50 years. He abruptly resigned on Friday, saying he would stay.
Governor Tony Evers has appointed former Treasury Secretary Sarah Godolsky, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year, to fill a four-year term. Wisconsin’s Secretary of State has not run an election since his 1974 and has few official duties.
La Follette, 82, said, “After years of frustration, I decided I didn’t want to spend the next three-and-a-half years trying to run an office without the right resources and level of staff. I resigned.
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He did not immediately return a phone message left for comment.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin Lemmahue called on Evers to hold a special election, saying Godolsky’s appointment “is an affront to Wisconsin voters and our democratic process.”
Evers, also a Democrat, defended the nomination.
“In a key position that has seen no replacement for decades, maintaining continuity with a leader who is ready and committed to fulfilling the constitutional obligations of this office is more than possible. “Nobody is more uniquely qualified and apt for the job than Sarah,” Evers said in a statement.
Godolski, 41, was a year old when La Follette began his current run for secretary of state.
Godlewski said he was humbled by the appointment. She will be the third woman in state history to hold this position. She served her one term as Treasurer from 2018 to 2022.
“I know how important this role and responsibility is, and I’m looking forward to getting to work,” she said in a statement.
Godlewski ran for senator last year in favor of abortion rights, but withdrew from the race ahead of the August primary, trailing Democratic front-runner Mandela Burns by double digits in polls. Did. Her name remained on the primary ballot, but Burns won her nomination, losing to Republican Senator Ron Johnson.
A native of Eau Claire, Godolski has participated in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008 and 2016.
Before running for Treasurer in 2018, Godolsky led a bipartisan coalition that voted against a bill to abolish the Treasurer’s office that spring. Voters rejected it, leaving the state accountant’s office intact, but performing few official duties.
Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Brian Siming said Mr. Godolsky “will be self-promoting and using the office for the next campaign.”
“Now I understand why Godolwski fled the U.S. Senate race when he was promised a soft landing,” he said.
La Follette was first elected as Secretary of State in 1974. After he failed to run for lieutenant governor in 1978, he ran for the office of secretary of state again in 1982 and was re-elected ten times.
The Republicans gradually stripped the office of nearly all duties and staff, forcing La Follette to a cramped office in the basement of the Capitol. However, since the 2020 presidential election, Republicans have considered shifting election oversight to the Secretary of State.
La Follette won reelection in November, defeating Republican Amy Laudenbeck, who wanted to shift responsibility for the election to public office. Ahead of the election, Mr. La Follette said he would run again to prevent Republicans from using the presidency to overturn the state’s 2024 Democratic presidential election.
Loudenbeck criticized his resignation on Friday.
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“This move, which comes so soon after the election, once again calls into question the tactics used by those in power who will do anything to maintain their power,” she said in a statement.
La Follette did not campaign too hard, saying she was afraid of contracting COVID-19 while campaigning. But that didn’t stop him from vacationing in Africa in June. In the end, his name recognition, as it had for years, was enough to lead him to victory.
La Follette is a distant relative of Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, a progressive Wisconsin governor and 1924 presidential candidate. Madison High School was named after Bob La Follette, and the state’s Democrats still endorse him as a progressive champion today.
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Earlier this year, Doug La Follette led a fundraiser to install a plaque on the bust of Bob La Follette in the State Capitol.