Secretary of State Doug La Follette on his 2022 campaign

Secretary of State Doug La Follette on his 2022 campaign

By FREDERICA FREYBERG | Here & Now

August 19, 2022

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Incumbent Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette discusses his 2022 run for re-election, serving multiple decades in the office and Republican proposals to add election oversight to its duties.


FREDERICA FREYBERG:

Tonight we bring you the first of two interviews with the general election candidates for the Wisconsin secretary of state. First incumbent Secretary Democrat Doug La Follette. He’s held the office for more than four decades and also served briefly in the state Senate. La Follette won last Tuesday’s primary election and now faces Republican challenger Representative Amy Loudenbeck in the general. The duties of the secretary of state include affixing the state seal to acts of the governor and preservation of municipal records, Blue Books and state statutes. Secretary of state is also a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Doug La Follette joins us now. Thanks very much for being here.

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

Yes, good evening, wonderful to be on TV and talk to everybody in Wisconsin.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

You’ve held this office for a long time. Why should you keep it?

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

Well, at the moment there is a special reason and that’s because the Trumpite Republicans across the country are trying to take control of secretary of state offices so they can maybe fiddle with the election in 2024, if their hero runs again. And in Wisconsin we have the same situation. My opponent’s main reason for running is to be able to move the election function from an independent commission to her in the secretary of state’s office.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

And what do you think about moving the administration of elections and oversight of elections to the secretary of state’s office as opposed to where it currently resides?

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

I think it’s a horrible idea. More than 50 years ago we decided to take politics out of the election process and we created an election board of, I believe, five retired judges, and they did a good job for many years. Then the Republicans got upset during the Walker recall and they abolished the board and set up a commission, which has been ok. But certainly better than having an elected politician. Now she wants to be able to take control of the election process as an elected partisan politician. That’s a bad idea. We need independence to protect the integrity of the votes in our state.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

In terms of your tenure as secretary of state over the years, what would you describe as your best results in office?

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

Well, I have to say that the worst thing is what happened to the office because of Republicans. Two Republican governors decided they wanted more control and more power so they took many important duties away from the office and put them under the control of the governor. All across the country, secretary of states do certain important, basically business-related functions, corporations and trademarks, so forth. Those should be put back in the office. I’ve tried several times to do that. Governor Evers, to his credit, tried to restore some of them. But the Republicans sliced it from the budget. So it’s time for them to wise up and make Wisconsin like the rest of the country so we can compete fairly and have the same system for secretary of state’s office.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

You’ve stated that you want to highlight your bully pulpit role. How so?

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

Well, it’s important for people to know what is going on in terms of the effort to manipulate the election process, not only in Wisconsin but across the country, and I’ll talk about it whenever I have an opportunity. They are making progress in Arizona, in Michigan, the governor of Pennsylvania is working on it, so they will be able to actually overturn the votes in their states if they choose to. That is a horrible idea and Wisconsin needs to keep the independent nature of our election administration.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

Why do you believe you can beat your Republican challenger?

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

Well, because I’m going to campaign and I’ve been elected many times. I think people trust me. I’ve been around a while. They know me and they trust me and this becomes particularly important in this election because as I’ve said, it’s all about the integrity of the election process and when I say what I’ve said this evening about the importance of keeping partisan politics out of the election process, they will listen. They will believe Doug La Follette. There are a lot of lies. There’s a lot of, you know, fake facts going on now the last few years in politics. But people, I think, trust Doug La Follette to be a straight shooter and tell it like it is. That’s what I’m going to do.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

All right. Secretary Doug La Follette, thanks very much for joining us.

DOUG LA FOLLETTE:

It’s been a great pleasure. I wish you a good evening.

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