Michael Haas, who faces a confirmation vote that could end his state employment, said now is not the time to be changing leadership at the Elections Commission.
“We have some serious things coming up with foreign government agents continuing to try to interfere with U.S. elections, and we need some continuity. One reason I was appointed in the first place was to provide that continuity,” Haas said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
The state Senate is scheduled to hold confirmation vote tomorrow on the appointments of both Haas and Brian Bell, administrator of the Ethics Commission.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called on both men to resign, because of their past employment with the now-defunct Government Accountability Board, which was involved with investigating Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his conservative allies.
Haas and Bell did not resign and are now trying to keep their jobs.
Haas has been doing a media tour and a waging a campaign on social media using the hashtag #WILikeMike. He also tried making his case in a letter to state senators.
“Maybe some of this would not have been necessary if we had the opportunity for a public hearing,” he said.
“Whichever way the vote goes, at least I feel like I’ve had a chance to communicate what my qualifications are in the running the agency,” he said.
Haas said the controversy surrounding the old GAB had to do with investigations on the ethics side of the agency. He has said he played a limited role in the John Doe investigations and was more heavily involved on the elections side of the GAB.
“Nobody’s had any single complaint about the way elections were run,” he said.
Haas said he was uncertain about the outcome of the confirmation vote.
“I don’t have a head count,” he said. “I am trying to reach out to every senator I can.”
If he loses the confirmation vote, he said he is not sure what happens next.
“I think that’s a little bit of uncharted territory. There’s some legal issues, the statutes are not quite clear. I’ve sort of intentionally stayed away from digging into that too much at this point. We’re trying to focus on getting every vote we can, making our case, and then see what happens,” Haas said.
In another segment, conservative opinion writer Christian Schneider of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and USAToday said Republicans should be “fairly nervous” about elections in 2018 after they lost the special election in western Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District.
Democrat Patty Schachtner stunned Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow by 11 points in a race to replace former Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf. Schneider used to work for Harsdorf.
“It kind of is the worst-case scenario for Republicans at this point,” he said.
Schneider said many affluent Republican voters in St. Croix County stayed away from the polls on Jan. 16.
“If what happens in St. Croix County happens in like, say Waukesha County, and they are very similar demographically, then it could be a really rough year for Republicans,” he said.
Also on the program, Democratic candidate for governor Mike McCabe said he’s traveled 37,000 miles so far in his campaign and is hearing from people who “are looking to throw a Molotov cocktail” at the political establishment.
“There’s tremendous hunger out there for a very different kind of leadership,” McCabe said.
“There’s frustration. There’s a whole lot of people who are feeling forgotten and overlooked and written off, and they really want to see a shakeup,” McCabe said, adding people in the northern part of the state are particularly “stirred up.”
Gousha asked what’s making them stirred up.
“I think a lot of time it’s just people feeling like the folks in charge at the Capitol don’t even know they are up there, aren’t speaking to their concerns, aren’t representing their interests,” McCabe said.
McCabe also discussed his “Clean Government Blueprint” to rein in what he called “big money” in politics. He said if elected, he would seek to change conflict of interest laws.
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