In a surprise move Friday, Governor Tony Evers hastily appointed former Democrat State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski Secretary of State after Doug La Follette suddenly resigned the post he’s held for nearly half a century.
Consider it a gift to the far-left Godlewski, who ceded last year’s Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senate to former Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes in his losing campaign against U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) isn’t happy with the sweetheart deal, blasting the governor for unilaterally filling the position of Secretary of State without an election by the citizens of Wisconsin.
“Gov. Evers has repeatedly acted to subvert the normal course of elections in Wisconsin. He has already tried to cancel a regularly scheduled election mere days before voting, and is now denying Wisconsinites the chance to choose one of their statewide, elected office holders,” LeMahieu said. “This suggests a pre-meditated action to award the power of incumbency to a partisan ally. It is an insult to voters of Wisconsin and our democratic process.”
Wisconsin law gives the governor the authority to call a special election to fill this vacancy.
“I call on the Governor to immediately call a special election to give the people of Wisconsin the opportunity to select their representative to fill this vacancy,” the senator said.
He added that to ensure continued operations of the office of the Secretary of State, Evers should appoint either current staff from the office or a nonpartisan individual who will not run in the special election to be interim Secretary of State should be appointed until the special election is completed.
Regardless, Godlewski is in charge of another virtually do-nothing office, stripped of most of its responsibilities by a Republican-led legislature’s government reforms and reorganizations.
“After 40+ years in office, Secretary of State Doug La Follette is retiring,” Evers tweeted Friday afternoon.
The far-left Democrat then boasted about checking off another political identity box.
“Today, I’m excited to announce I’m appointing former State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to Secretary of State, who will be only the third woman to have held the office in our state’s history,” Evers added.
NEW: After 40+ years in office, Secretary of State Doug La Follette is retiring.
Today, I'm excited to announce I'm appointing former State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to Secretary of State, who will be only the third woman to have held the office in our state's history.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) March 17, 2023
In November, the nearly 83-year-old La Follette won another four-year term, narrowly defeating Republican State lawmaker Amy Loudenbeck by a scant 7,442 votes (three tenths of a percent). La Follette, a distant relative of Wisconsin’s progressive icon “Fighting” Bob LaFollette, was first elected Secretary of State in 1974 before running unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1978. He was elected again in 1982, as he has served in the post since January 1983.
Over that time, La Follette has been a dutiful stamp — literally, until his biggest responsibility was taken away — for the left and the Democratic Party.
In May, as he struggled to get enough signatures to run for re-election, La Follette told liberal news outlet Isthmus that he nearly retired in 2021. He claimed the Democratic Party of Wisconsin “pressured” him to run again.
“Because I was encouraged to run by the party, I decided to hold off on retiring,” he told the publication. Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Iris Riis initially did not respond to Isthmus when asked if the party had asked La Follette to run, the article notes. But after the piece was published Riis emailed that the party neither “encouraged nor discouraged” La Follette to run for re-election.
Godlewski, an unapologetic political climber, ran a state treasurer’s office with few responsibilities for just one term before she got the higher office itch. She was a top contender for the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate in last year’s mid-terms, but like her liberal rival, Milwaukee Bucks trust fund liberal Alex Lasry, she bowed out just days before the primary to clear the field for Barnes.
Godlewski, who in a blink changed her Twitter handle to reflect her new appointment, thanked the governor and said she is “ready to get to work.” At what, besides her next higher office campaign, remains unclear — given the do-nothing nature of the Secretary of State’s office.
Thank you, @GovEvers! It’s honor an to continue to serve the people of Wisconsin as Secretary of State. I’m ready to get to work! https://t.co/gxDofm3ni0
— Secretary Sarah Godlewski (@WISecofState) March 17, 2023
Wisconsin GOP Chairman Brian Schimming suggested Godlewski is receiving payback for bowing out of the Senate race.
“Now we see why Godlewski ducked out of the US Senate race, as she was apparently promised a soft landing,” Schimming said in a statement.
“LaFollette has done little or nothing for decades, and now Democrats will hand millionaire Godlewski a $72,000 a year job where she will self-promote and use the office to prepare for her next campaign,” he added.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Tony Evers” by Governor Tony Evers. Photo “Sarah Godlewski” by National Association of State Treasurers. Background Photo “Wisconsin Capitol” by F McGady. CC BY-SA 4.0.