Group says it has enough challenges to halt four Senate recalls

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MADISON -- The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate says it has enough challenges to halt the recall effort against four targeted state senators. Those senators had until 4 p.m. Thursday to turn in challenges to the signatures.

The Government Accountability Board announced Thursday they have received challenges from all four senators, and those challenges will be made available as soon as possible via the GAB's website.

CLICK HERE to visit the GAB's website

Now, recall petitioners have five days to rebut the challenges, after which officeholders will have two days to reply. The challenges, rebuttals and replies will be used by the GAB to make recommendations to the Board about whether the petitioners filed a sufficient number of signatures to trigger recall elections. The Board has until March 19th to determine the sufficiency of all petitions.

Republicans waited until the very end of the day Thursday, but they say they're confident they have enough signatures to stop the recall election in at least one of the four senate districts. "All four senators did file challenges to the petitions that are above the figure, or the count needed," Dan Romportl with the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is targeted for recall in the 13th senate district. Petitioners gathered nearly 4,000 more signatures than they needed, but Fitzgerald says enough signatures are questionable to stop the recall effort against him. "Everything from convicted felons who are not able to vote, to incomplete addresses, to people that live outside the 13th district," Fitzgerald said.

Democrats say they're waiting to challenge the challenges, and say they remain steadfast, even in Fitzgerald's district. "We're confident that our grassroots organization has been able to force a recall election in those four Senate districts. We had 3,859 signatures above the threshold needed to force a recall election. That's quite a considerable amount to challenge," Brad Wojciechowski with the State Senate Democratic Committee said.

The GAB does only what they call a "facial review" of the signatures, and leaves it up to the officeholders who are targeted to provide more scrutiny. The GAB announced they will not accept challenges from individuals, or third party groups analyzing signatures, and that those with concerns must go directly to the officeholders. "We only look at what's on the face of the petition. We don't go and look and make sure that John Smith lives at 123 Main Street, or that John Smith isn't a convicted felon. If there's something that the officeholders challenge that we haven't found, then we have to go look at what evidence they have submitted. It gives us more information and helps us determine the final number of how many valid signatures there actually are," Reid Magney with the GAB said.

The other three senators haven't said how many signatures they will challenge. Those targeted senators are Van Wanggaard of Racine, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Pam Galloway of Wausau.

Gov. Scott Walker has until Feb. 27 to submit his challenges.