Wisconsin Secretary of State La Follette resigns; governor appoints Godlewski

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 12:29 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette resigned on Friday, three months into his 11th consecutive term in office.

Gov. Tony Evers appointed former Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who ran for U.S. Senate last year but lost in the primary, to fill out the four-year term. Wisconsin’s secretary of state is not in charge of elections and has almost no official duties.

La Follette, 82, won reelection in November over a Republican who wanted to shift election duties to the office.

La Follette - a distant relative of “Fighting” Bob La Follette, a progressive governor and 1924 presidential candidate - was first elected secretary of state in 1974. After a failed try for lieutenant governor in 1978, he won the office in 1982 and has won reelection nine times.

Republicans have gradually stripped the office of almost all its duties and staff and relegated La Follette to a cramped office in the Capitol basement. However, since the 2020 presidential election, Republicans have been mulling shifting oversight of elections to the secretary of state. The office hasn’t played a role in Wisconsin elections since 1974.