What happened? Late last month, Senator Alberta Darling announced that she was retiring from public office after 32 years of service in the State Legislature. State Senators are elected to four-year staggered terms. Every two years, roughly half of the upper house is up for election. Senator Darling was last elected in 2020, which means that there are two more years left in her term. As of December 1, the seat became vacant and the Governor has called for a special election.
Why is it important? Senator Darling has been a fixture in conservative movement for three decades and her retirement will leave some very large shoes to fill. Currently, several Republican candidates have said they plan on running for the open seat. It is also important to note that if a Republican is elected to the seat in spring, the party will maintain the supermajority in the Senate they gained during the election this fall.
What’s next? On December 2nd, Governor Evers called for a special election for the 8th Senate District to coincide with the spring election on April 4th. When a seat becomes vacant in the legislature, whether it is through retirement or resignation, the Governor has the authority and duty to call for special election with several caveats:
- The Governor cannot call for a special election to happen between February 1st and the first Tuesday in April, unless the special election falls on the day of the spring election (as it does in this situation).
- The Governor cannot call for a special election to happen between August 1st and the first Tuesday in November of a general election year.
- The Governor must call for a special election quickly, unless the vacancy occurs after the second Tuesday of May in an election year.