MADISON — Arthur Kohl-Riggs dresses as Abraham Lincoln and says he is a better representative of the Republican Party than Gov. Scott Walker. Kohl-Riggs is running against Walker in the upcoming gubernatorial recall primary. Kohl-Riggs is one of the placeholder candidates running in the race.
23-year-old Kohl-Riggs made a name for himself as the “Abe Lincoln Protester” during the budget battle. Now, he’s running as a Republican in the recall primary against Walker.
“I’m running as a Republican in the Wisconsin gubernatorial election against Scott Walker because Wisconsin has a long and proud tradition of progressive Republicans. The party was actually founded in Wisconsin as a pro-labor, abolitionist party,” Kohl-Riggs said.
Kohl-Riggs says he’s not a “placeholder,” but says his presence on the ballot should ensure Republicans vote for Walker, and don’t cross over into the Democratic Party.
“I think Walker is the ‘fake Republican.’ He doesn’t instill any of the values of the party of Lincoln. I’m encouraging anyone who my message resonates with to vote for me in the primary,” Kohl-Riggs said.
Walker has called Kohl-Riggs a sideshow. “My opponents are not the people on my ballot. My opponents are the out-of-state union bosses in Washington,” Walker said.
Meanwhile, some top Republicans like state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and state Representative Robin Vos have openly talked about Republican voters crossing over into the Democratic primary. “Will some do it? I’m sure some will. It’s an open primary,” Vos said.
That brought harsh criticism from Democratic candidates.
“Let’s be honest about this – it’s disgusting,” Secretary of State Doug LaFollette said.
“They don’t want the same old politics. They’re tired of being told who to vote for,” Kathleen Vinehout said.
Walker says the “placeholders” serve a purpose. “The best thing that happened out of all of that is that all of the elections will be on June 5th. I’ve had so many people tell me that whether they’re Republican or Democrat, there’s real confusion about May 8 and June 5. I think everybody wants the recall election to be on the same day,” Walker said.
There is also a “placeholder” candidate running for governor on the Democratic side. Her name is Gladys Huber. She also served as a placeholder candidate in the Senate recall last summer.