More than a month after his Wisconsin recall election, Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard has conceded his race — sort of.
Wanggaard still believes voter fraud was a factor in the race, which gave Democrats a majority in the chamber — a small consolation prize after the party failed to oust Gov. Scott Walker.
“Unfortunately, I only have 5 days from the end of the recount to develop a case to challenge the count of the election,” Wanggaard said in a statement Tuesday. “This is not enough time to fully investigate the mountains of evidence and answer the questions that have arisen.”
Wanggaard comes close to a concession: “The count of the ballots — those cast appropriately and those that may not have been — shows my opponent with more votes.”
After the votes were first fully canvassed, Wanggaard lost to Democratic former state Sen. John Lehman, in a rematch from 2010 for the Racine-based seat. Wanggaard demanded a recount, which narrowed Lehman’s lead to 819 votes.
Wanggaard said he will run for the seat again in 2014: “As General Douglas MacArthur once said, ‘I shall return.’”
Republicans have charged that fraud contributed to Lehman’s win, but have not provided any clear evidence.
Lehman’s win lifts Democrats to a 17-16 majority in the state Senate. The legislature is out of regular session for the year. Half of the chamber is up for re-election in November, when Democrats will have to play defense on a new map drawn by Republican lawmakers.
Wanggaard’s full statement:
Statement on Election Challenge Deadline
“Unfortunately, I only have 5 days from the end of the recount to develop a case to challenge the count of the election. This is not enough time to fully investigate the mountains of evidence and answer the questions that have arisen. This is especially true given the surprising lack of cooperation we have received from city officials in our requests. The investigation into irregularities does not stop today. The investigation will continue and evidence discovered will be provided to law enforcement.
“The seemingly never-ending delay by Dane County judges preventing implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law undoubtedly played a role in this recall election. Even if I were to challenge and win in Racine County court, an appeal to that challenge would be heard in the Madison’s Court of Appeals. A challenge would also be extremely costly to taxpayers, who have already been forced to waste $20 million on the recall election.
“Despite pleas from around the state to challenge the election, it is not in the best interests of Racine, or Wisconsin, at this time. Now is the time to focus on gaining the state senate back in November, winning Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat, and electing Governor Romney as President.
“The count of the ballots - those cast appropriately and those that may not have been - shows my opponent with more votes. I hope John Lehman learned the lesson of his defeat in 2010, and pursues a more job-friendly agenda in office.
“As for me, I have spent my entire adult life in service to our community. The June election will not stop that dedication to service. I will be a candidate for the 21st Senate District at the next election. As General Douglas MacArthur once said, “I shall return.”“