Trump backers try again to recall Wisconsin GOP Assembly speaker as first effort stalls

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Backers of former President Donald Trump are launching a second effort to recall Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos from office after the first attempt appears to have failed.

Recall organizers filed paperwork to start a second recall effort on Wednesday, just a day after they asked a court to give them more time to rehabilitate signatures that Vos challenged on the first recall petition. Organizers on Thursday said they weren't giving up hope on the first attempt, calling the new one a “concurrent” effort.

Vos was initially targeted for recall because he refused to impeach the state’s top elections official or proceed with attempting to decertify President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Wisconsin. His actions angered Trump, who accused Vos of covering up election corruption, while Trump’s followers mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge in 2022 and are now trying to force a recall election.

The second recall effort says he should be recalled because of his “tacit support for the Chinese Communist Party,” lack of commitment to election integrity, bocking lower prescription drug costs and “flagrant disrespect for his own constituents by calling them ‘whack-jobs, morons and idiots.’”

Vos made that comment last week when deriding the recall effort, including mocking their claims that he is secretly working for the Chinese government.

“The whack jobs who are running the recall against me said I am agent of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said at a luncheon. "That was the last text that they sent out in desperation to show people somehow that I am not a conservative Republican.

Vos, the longest serving Assembly speaker in Wisconsin history, declined Thursday to comment on the latest recall effort.

Recall organizer Matthew Snorek did not return an email seeking comment. Recall organizers said in a statement Thursday that their goal was “to fortify the integrity of the recall process, ensuring that each step we take is marked by precision, transparency, and trust.”

Ultimately, it's up to the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission to determine whether enough valid signatures are gathered to force a recall election. The commission has not voted on the first filing, but its initial review found that not enough valid signatures collected from residents of the district Vos was elected to represent.

But because Vos now lives in a different district under new maps the Legislature passed, the elections commission has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to clarify where any recall would take place. Determining that would also dictate where petition signatures must come from and how many need to be collected.

The Supreme Court has not said yet whether it will rule on that question or when.

Recall organizers faced a Tuesday deadline to rebut challenges Vos made to their signatures. Instead, they asked the Dane County circuit court to give it more time to review the challenges. In a court filing, organizers asked that they have until five days after the Supreme Court rules on which district boundary is in effect.

The circuit court scheduled a Friday hearing in that case.

Vos has said the first recall petition fell “woefully short” of the signatures needed, no matter what legislative district is used, and was rife with fraud and criminal activity. The Racine County district attorney was also investigating claims that the petitions included names of people who did not sign it.

The elections commission has until April 11 to decide whether there are enough valid signatures on the original petition to order a recall election. Its decision can be appealed in court. If successful, the recall is likely to be scheduled in June.

The new recall petition would be due May 28, which means any recall election likely wouldn't be until September. That would put it after the Aug. 13 primary, where Vos could face a challenge ahead of the November general election.