By Urban Media News
It appears there is no level too low for Wisconsin Republicans to reach to win elections. We know that all too well in Milwaukee, where Gov. Scott Walker’s election machine has relentlessly attacked our community through some of the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the county. Walker’s machine was up to their very same electoral tricks when the Republican Party of Wisconsin filed a challenge with the Wisconsin Elections Commission to over 1,700 ballot nomination signatures submitted by Milwaukee-area entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for governor, Andy Gronik.
State law requires candidates for statewide office, like the office of the Governor, solicit at least 2,000 nomination signatures to be listed on Election Day ballot. The Gronik campaign had 3,602 signatures reviewed and proved to be valid by the Wisconsin Elections Commission prior to the challenge made by state Republicans.
In their challenge, state Republicans claimed that two of Andy Gronik’s nomination paper circulators were felons and ineligible of circulating nomination papers. According to state law, any felons who are still on probation or parole, are not allowed to vote or participate in elections. However, those who have served their time and are not on parole can have their voting rights restored via Wisconsin state statute.
The Gronik campaign immediately defended the circulators and called out the Republican challenge as going beyond the “typical dog-whistle and red meat politics,” calling it “blatantly and offensively racist to suggest that a significant number of Andy Gronik’s signatures are invalid simply because the signers come from Milwaukee, or because the signatures were collected by black and brown folks in Milwaukee.”
At a press conference, one of the circulators mentioned in the complaint, Torre Johnson, spoke on having Walker’s machine targeting him. “It’s not just about the importance of having your voting rights back–it’s about human rights–we should have all our rights back,” said Johnson.
In a press release, the Gronik campaign called the complaints “surgical strikes” against “signatures gathered from Milwaukee neighborhoods that are the most segregated in the nation and from a zip code that is the most incarcerated in the country.”
“I do not believe that every sentence should be a life sentence,” Gronik said in defense of nomination signature circulators. “It’s absurd that Walker’s Republican Party would suggest my judgment is impaired for hiring people just trying to get on with their lives…Torre Johnson and Patricia Lacy paid their debts to society–they served their time, are off parole, and are trying to participate in our democracy. It’s shameful that Scott Walker is attacking them, and trying to silence the voices of these citizens and thousands of others. I’m not going to sit by and do nothing while Governor Walker attacks Milwaukee.”
Ultimately, the Elections Commission rejected all of the challenges to Gronik’s nomination signature.
“Talk about getting rejected!” Gronik said via press release. “Maybe Gov. Walker thought I’d just roll over when he attacked my Milwaukee neighbors–not a chance! By now, Walker should know me better than that. I answered the other bogus claim he made to the Elections Commission and they threw that one out right away, too. When you mess with the people of my state; when you mess with my friends; when you mess with my family; you’re messin’ with me. It’s a big reason why I got into this fight. I couldn’t sit by for another moment and watch what Walker was doing to our state. Somebody had to stop him and that somebody is me.”