Candidates prepare for recall primary in 32nd Senate District

LA CROSSE, Wis.– In just a few days, State Rep. Jennifer Shilling will face off against an unusual opponent in the Democratic primary for the upcoming recall election: a Republican who’s running as a protest candidate.

Shilling calls her opponent James Smith’s campaign a new low in Wisconsin politics.  Smith, of course, sees things a little differently.  He hopes his unconventional campaign will get the attention of conservative voters.

In Wisconsin’s open primaries, you don’t have to be registered as a Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary. And that’s exactly how Shilling’s opponent James Smith is hoping to win this election.  “I certainly think there’s a very high likelihood of Republicans voting in the primary on Tuesday. Whether it’s enough to outnumber Jennifer Shilling, we’ll find out,” said Smith.


Shilling said Smith’s candidacy is a distraction to voters-and an expensive one at that.  “His candidacy as a fake Democrat in this primary is costing taxpayers over $117,000. So certainly my concern is that this is a waste of money.  It is confusing to some people,” said Shilling.

While Shilling’s signs cover the sidewalks in La Crosse, you won’t see a lot of signs for Smith. But even though Shilling has out-fundraised Smith by about 300-to-one, she doesn’t want her supporters getting too comfortable.  “We certainly don’t want our supporters to sleep through this primary. This is very important and we’re taking it very seriously,” said Shilling.

“It’s a David and Goliath fight, so we’re not terribly optimistic, but I think there’s hope. I do,” said Smith.  Smith said if he does win Tuesday’s primary, he intends to challenge Kapanke for his seat in the State Senate. 

Shilling and her volunteers plan to contact voters throughout the district over the weekend to remind them to head to the polls on Tuesday.

Smith also said that if he’s elected, he plans to remain a Republican.