Gladys Huber, an 80-year-old Mequon woman who has filed papers to run as a Democrat in the 8th Senate District recall election made an odd comment when reached by a reporter.
"I really have no comment at all," she said. "I will refer you to the Republican Party of Wisconsin."
State party officials did not return calls about Huber's candidacy but they have been upfront about its intention to run Republicans as Democrats in an effort to give incumbent senators like the 8th District's Alberta Darling more time to raise money and campaign.
The state's Government Accountability Board said Friday that Huber has officially registered to run as a Democrat against state Rep. Sandy Pasch of Whitefish Bay. If both candidates meet the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to file nominating petitions, a primary election would be held July 12 and the winner of that race would take on Darling on Aug. 9.
Democratic candidate an active Republican
While Huber won't talk about why she's running as a Democrat, there is no doubt that she has longtime roots as an active member of the Republican party in Ozaukee County.
Huber, born in April 1931, is one of 10 people elected to serve as a leader in the Ozaukee County Republican Party. For a number of years, she has served as a member-at-large.
Huber has a yard sign supporting Darling in front of her home. She also donated $100 to Darling on March 28, according to the GAB. Between 2002 and 2010 Huber gave almost $2,000 to Republican candidates or the state party, records show.
Huber is a longtime poll worker in Ozaukee County, most recently serving as the Republican observer in the Supreme Court recount. In 1996, she was the membership chairwoman for the county GOP. She was the quoted by the Journal Sentinel as saying: "I am a firm believer in the grassroots. The grassroots is where the grunt work gets done."
In 1994, Huber filed a complaint against Eric Grant, who was a Republican candidate for the 60th District Assembly seat. Grant, she said, had not formed a committee before raising and spending money on his campaign. He paid a $150 fine.
She also served on the county's Department on Aging and on the Lasata Care Center board, the county-owned senior apartment complex.
Recall election could be delayed
While plans now call for a primary election on July 9 and a general election in August, those dates could be delayed. Darling has joined five other Republican senators facing recall in challenging the GAB's decision to certify the recall petitions. The lawsuit has been assigned to Dane County Circuit Judge Patrick Feidler. No date has been set for a hearing.
A week before Darling filed the lawsuit, she told WTMJ-TV that she would not challenge the GAB decision, saying she wanted "to move forward."
Neither Darling, her campaign staff or the Republican Party of Wisconsin returned calls from Patch.
The Journal Sentinel quoted her saying that she decided to stick with the other Republicans being recalled.
"I could have had a chance of sticking out there by myself or staying with the group," she told the newspaper.
Her lawyer, Eric McLeod, charged that the recall group did not follow procedures, an argument the six retired judges who make up the GAB rejected.
"It's merely to insure that the rules governing recall elections are followed," McLeod said.
Pasch likened the maneuver to run a fake Democrat to the "dirty tricks" of the Nixon administration.
"Given how much taxpayer money will be wasted on this cynical ploy, Senator Darling's hypocrisy is stunning," Pasch said. "I guess her priority is saving her political skin, not listening to her constituents who are frustrated by politicians who cut priorities like education and health care while giving away huge tax breaks to corporations."
The recall election will cost Milwaukee County between $50,000 and $75,000, said Lisa Weiner, head of the elections commission. A primary election would cost the same amount, she said. Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington counties would have similar expenses.
The money, Weiner said, would come from the county's contingency fund, but the municipalities will front the costs and be reimbursed within a couple of months.