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New Wisconsin Sec. of State expresses shock at appointment

Wisconsin’s newly appointed secretary of state mentioned Thursday that she had no concept Gov. Tony Evers was going to supply her the job, defusing Republican allegations that her appointment was a part of a long-planned scheme tied to her dropping out of a U.S. Senate race final 12 months.

Evers introduced Friday that longtime Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat who narrowly held on to the place in November, had abruptly resigned. The governor mentioned he appointed Sarah Godlewski to the place fairly than name a particular election.

Republicans who management the Legislature instantly accused Evers of handing Godlewski the job as a part of a plan to reward her for dropping out of a Democratic main for U.S. Senate final 12 months and serving to clear the way in which for Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to win the nomination. Barnes finally misplaced the overall election to incumbent Republican Ron Johnson in November.


In her first interview since being tapped for the job, Godlewski advised The Related Press that she was summoned to the governor’s workplace on March 15, two days earlier than Evers introduced La Follette’s resignation. She mentioned she had no concept what the governor needed earlier than they sat down and he supplied her the job. She denied that any quid professional quo was at play.

“I got here house after that assembly and my husband was like, ‘How was the governor? Are you serving on a job power? Are you serving on a fee?'” Godlewski mentioned. “I’m like, ‘Nope. You’re taking a look at your soon-to-be new secretary of state.'”

Evers’ resolution to nominate Godlewski fairly than maintain a particular election to fill the workplace has outraged Republicans, who had been overtly discussing transferring election administration duties from a bipartisan fee to the secretary of state workplace, following the lead of 38 different states. Former Republican state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck nearly defeated La Follette in November, shedding by solely about 7,500 votes.

Republicans handed a decision Wednesday calling for a particular election.

“The folks of Wisconsin didn’t vote for Sarah Godlewski,” mentioned Republican Senate Majority Chief Devin LeMahieu. “The voters of Wisconsin need to have their voices heard. … Let the folks converse, let democracy work out its course of and let’s have a duly elected secretary of state.”

Evers advised reporters on Tuesday that he first heard about La Follette’s resolution to resign on March 14. The primary time he spoke to Godlewski about it was on March 15. He mentioned he appointed her as a result of she had served as state treasurer earlier than working for the U.S. Senate and that job is much like the secretary of state publish.

He identified that nobody complained when he appointed Carolyn Stanford Taylor to switch him because the state colleges superintendent after he received his first time period as governor in 2018.

“That is simply such an odd story Republicans have put in place right here,” Evers mentioned. “The concept that I by some means colluded with Godlewski and Mandela and all these different folks. I feel the final time I talked to Doug La Follette … I feel I noticed him on the inauguration (this previous January) and I mentioned ‘good speech, Doug.’ Three phrases that I’ve had with him over the past a number of years. I appointed a totally competent individual to do the work and that is the top of that story.”


The 82-year-old La Follette, a distant cousin of legendary Wisconsin progressive “Combating Bob” La Follette, first received election as secretary of state in 1974. He left the workplace after one time period to run for lieutenant governor, misplaced that election and received election as secretary of state once more in 1982. He served 10 consecutive phrases earlier than he was reelected in November.

However Republicans have stripped each the state treasurer and secretary of state places of work of virtually all their duties and drained their funding. The one actual job left for both officer is sitting on a state timber board.

La Follette mentioned he determined to run for an 11th time period final 12 months to make sure that Loudenbeck did not win it, take management of elections and guarantee Donald Trump wins the state in 2024. However he mentioned in his resignation letter that he was uninterested in serving with none assets.

Requested if she wish to management Wisconsin elections, Godlewski responded that she believes the state elections fee is doing an efficient job of holding truthful elections. She mentioned she would not have a transparent imaginative and prescient but for the secretary of state’s workplace, and that she plans to journey the state and speak to municipal and county clerks about methods she can assist them.

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