- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014
Republicans file lawsuit over redesigned ballot

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican legislative leaders filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking changes to the newly redesigned ballot for the November election, claiming the one drafted by the nonpartisan elections agency unfairly benefits Democrats.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald filed the lawsuit in Waukesha County Circuit Court against the Government Accountability Board. The complaint argues that the model ballot drafted by the GAB is confusing, gives undo prominence to Democratic candidates and makes it difficult for voters to tell which office the candidates are seeking.

The state’s chief elections officer, Kevin Kennedy, defended the ballot design on Tuesday before the lawsuit was filed. He said the allegation that the ballot benefits Democrats was “absurd.”

“I don’t think the issue that’s been presented is anything other than something to gin up some partisan activity,” Kennedy said when asked about the issue during a news conference.

Both the GAB and the state Department of Justice, which would defend the agency, declined to comment about the lawsuit.

The ballot design is unfair because Democratic candidates are listed first under the name of the office being sought and Republican candidates are separated by a line, the lawsuit said.

Democrats are listed first, per state law, based on results in the 2012 election where President Barack Obama won Wisconsin. Republican candidates were listed first in 2012 because Gov. Scott Walker won election in 2010.

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Labor official says Walker ad sets unsafe example

MILWAUKEE (AP) - It’s not uncommon for political candidates to engage in mudslinging, but in Wisconsin’s governor’s race there’s actual dirt involved.

It all started last week when Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign released an ad titled “Comeback,” which opens with him standing in an earthen hole about 6 feet deep. He tells the camera his opponent, Democrat Mary Burke, supported policies that put Wisconsin in a hole with high taxes, a deficit and a loss of 133,000 Wisconsin jobs. Then he touts aspects of his record while climbing a ladder.

Burke’s campaign fired back with “Stop Digging,” an ad that contends it was Walker’s policies that put Wisconsin in a hole. A narrator asks Walker to stop digging, as dirt is shown flying through the air as if being tossed by a shovel.

The back-and-forth took an unconventional turn, however, when a union official stepped in to criticize Walker’s ad - not for its content, but for setting a poor example by failing to take safety precautions when filming it.

Jeff Kaminiski, president of United Steelworkers Local 2006, noted the governor wasn’t wearing safety gear such as a hard hat and glasses, and that the hole in which he was standing was so deep the dirt walls should have been supported to prevent a collapse.

“As somebody who spends my days pushing safety on the job, these are big offenses,” Kaminski said in a statement Tuesday.

Walker’s campaign didn’t immediately return a message Wednesday.

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Group seeks recognition of Wisconsin gay marriages

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A civil rights group filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking recognition of Wisconsin gay couples who married in June after a judge temporarily blocked the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit in February challenging the ban. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb found the ban was unconstitutional in June and more than 500 gay couples rushed to get married. But a week later, Crabb put the ruling on hold pending appeal, and put the ban back into effect.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said Crabb’s ruling didn’t give county clerks the authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the status of their unions is legally uncertain. He also said prosecutors could choose to charge county clerks who issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Crabb’s decision earlier this month. State attorneys now have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

ACLU attorneys on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit in Madison on behalf of four gay Wisconsin couples who married during the week between Crabb’s ruling and her decision to put it on hold. The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the weddings were valid. Such a ruling would guarantee the couples a host of legal rights and benefits, including the ability to file joint tax returns and make medical decisions for one another.

“Our clients have married in Wisconsin and that isn’t something the State can take away from them or refuse to recognize,” ACLU attorney Larry Dupuis said. “The State of Wisconsin has placed hundreds of same-sex couples, including our clients, in an untenable position of not knowing if their marriages will be respected and recognized or simply ignored.”

Van Hollen spokeswoman Dana Brueck had no immediate comment.

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Republican drops Assembly bid

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) - A Republican candidate for the state Assembly has dropped his campaign after remarks on Twitter he acknowledged were hurtful.

The Janesville Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1uHHJGihttps://bit.ly/1uHHJGi ) that Jacob Dorsey told the paper he was ending his campaign against Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, in the 44th District.

Dorsey, 19, apologized last week for a comment on gay people he posted on Twitter in December. The Gazette reported Dorsey had acknowledged other inappropriate posts on social media sites, including derogatory terms for gay people and black people in videos on YouTube.

The Gazette said Dorsey issued a statement saying he decided to withdraw due to “insensitive remarks” that had surfaced from his past. He said he plans to pursue a college degree. On Wednesday, his Twitter account appeared to have been deleted.

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Information from: The Janesville Gazette, https://www.gazetteextra.comhttps://www.gazetteextra.com

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