Dan Kapanke

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Dan Kapanke
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 32nd district
In office
January 3, 2005 – August 9, 2011
Preceded byMark Meyer
Succeeded byJennifer Shilling
Personal details
Born (1947-08-21) August 21, 1947 (age 72)
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican
ResidenceFrench Island, Wisconsin
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin–La Crosse

Daniel E. Kapanke is a former Republican member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 32nd District from 2005 until losing his seat to Jennifer Shilling in the 2011 recall elections.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Kapanke was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 21, 1947. He graduated from Luther High School in Onalaska in 1965. He later graduated from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, where he earned a B.S. in 1975 and a M.E.P.D. in Education in 1987. He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and in the Wisconsin National Guard. He also served on the Town of Campbell Board. He is the founding owner of the La Crosse Loggers Northwoods League Baseball Team and was a district sales manager at Kaltenberg Seed Farms for 30 years.[1]

Wisconsin Senate[edit]

Kapanke won election to the Wisconsin State Senate twice, first in 2004 against LaCrosse County Board Supervisor Brad Pfaff, and again in 2008 against La Crosse County Supervisor Tara Johnson.

Kapanke served as chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Higher Education, and was also a member of the committees on Energy, Biotechnology, and Consumer Protection, on Financial Institutions and Rural Issues, and on Workforce Development, Small Business, and Tourism. He was also co-chair of the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems.[2]

Kapanke has been criticized for ethics violations, including using $32,000[3] from a lobbyist-funded charity to pay off personal debt, and violating the state's open records law, causing taxpayers to pay $38,000 in legal bills.[4] According to Kapanke, the violations were unintentional.[5]

During the 2011 Wisconsin protests, Kapanke reported that he had received death threats from his vote, and claimed that the windshield of his car had been vandalized, causing him to cancel public appearances. However, a police report had previously concluded that the damage was instead caused by a stray rock.[6] Nevertheless, Kapanke persisted in publicly blaming it on protesters; according to PolitiFact, "Kapanke allowed the myth of the smashed windshield to run wild and uncorrected for almost three weeks after he knew it was not true."[7]

2011 recall[edit]

Kapanke was subject to an active recall effort to remove him from his seat in the Wisconsin Senate, as part of the 2011 Wisconsin protests. On March 2, 2011, the "Committee to Recall Kapanke" officially registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.[8] 15,588 valid signatures of electors residing within the 32nd District must be collected by May 2, 2011 to generate a recall election.

A March 9, 2011 poll by Survey USA indicated that 57% voters in Kapanke's district would vote for recall.[9]

Kapanke indicated his strong support for Governor Scott Walker, explaining it by asking, "How can you go wrong following a leader that obviously gets his mission on this earth?", referring to their strong religious beliefs.[10] At a separate occasion, he indicated that he did not believe that Walker's plans went far enough, and stated that public safety unions (police, firemen, and state patrol unions) should be included in the collective bargaining ban (under Walker's plan, they are exempt.)[11]

On April 1, 2011, Wisconsin Democrats announced that they had enough signatures to recall Kapanke and filed petitions that day, with 22,561 signatures,[12][13] 45% more than the 15,588 verifiable signatures required by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB).[14]

On April 9, 2011, State Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D - La Crosse) announced her candidacy against Kapanke in a possible recall election.[15]

At a LaCrosse County Republican Party meeting held in late May 2011, party officials discussed the possibility of running an additional Democratic Party candidate against Rep. Shilling, with the intent being to force a primary election against a token opponent, delaying the date of the recall election.[16] According to election clerks, this would cost the state $101,000.[17] At the same meeting, Kapanke expressed concern over his re-election bid due to the large number of public workers in his district, saying that he hoped they would sleep through the election.[18]

Kapanke challenges the petition[edit]

On April 15, 2011, Kapanke filed a challenge with the Government Accountability Board stating that the recall petitions should be thrown out as organizers neglected to file a required registration statement. According to Kapanke's challenge, a specific organizer, Patrick Scheller, is the Recall Petitioner, as he was the one delivering the 22,561 petitions, and thus should have filed the registration himself (which was instead filed by the Recall Committee.)[19] Kapanke also challenged approximately 900 of the 22,561 signatures (15,588 valid signatures are required to force a recall election.)[20]

Pro-recall organizers filed a rebuttal in response, arguing that Kapanke's argument "proceeds from a false factual premise", noting that Scheller was simply a representative of the recall committee, as "a committee can neither be an elector or hold a pen."[21][22]

GAB rules against Kapanke[edit]

In late May, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) approved the recall petition against Senator Kapanke, rejecting his challenge. The date for the recall election was set for August 9, 2011, following a Democratic primary on July 12, 2011.[23]

Recall results[edit]

Kapanke lost the recall effort to Shilling on August 9, 2011, earning 45% of the vote (26,724) to Shilling's 55% (33,192).[24]

Political campaigns[edit]

2010 U.S. Congressional campaign[edit]

In the summer 2009, Kapanke announced his intention to run for the United States House of Representatives in Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district.[25]

In October 2009, Kapanke was added to the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns Program as an "On the Radar" candidate.[26] This designation was only given to ten Republican Congressional candidates in the Midwest. During the same month, Congressional Quarterly readjusted the 3rd Congressional District political status from a "Safe Democratic" to a "Likely Democratic" district.

In September 2010, Kapanke defeated Bruce Evers in the 3rd congressional district Republican Primary election. Kapanke won with approximately 78% of the vote.[27] Kapanke then lost the general election to incumbent Congressman Ron Kind.[28]

Electoral history[edit]

Wisconsin State Senate District 32 Election 2004[29]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Dan Kapanke 46,416 52.46%
Democratic Brad Pfaff 41,928 47.39%
Scattering 139 .15%
Wisconsin State Senate District 32 Election 2008[30]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Dan Kapanke 45,154 51.38%
Democratic Tara Johnson 42,647 48.53%
Scattering 80 .09%
Wisconsin Congressional District 3 Election 2010[31]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ron Kind 126,380 50.28%
Republican Dan Kapanke 116,838 46.49%
Independent Michael Krsiean 8,001 3.18%
Scattering 121 .05%


  1. ^ "Biographies: Senator Kapanke". Wisconsin Blue Book 2009 – 2010. p. 82. Archived from the original (SWF) on August 11, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  2. ^ "Dan Kapanke: 2011 - 2012 Committee Assignments". Wisconsin State Legislature. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  3. ^ Lindquist, Eric (August 27, 2010). "Kapanke says payment by charity was a 'mistake'". Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.
  4. ^ Marley, Patrick (September 11, 2009). "Taxpayers to cover $38,000 in legal bills for Kapanke violation". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
  5. ^ Marcus, Samantha (August 26, 2010). "Kapanke admits ethics breach". La Crosse Tribune.
  6. ^ Vanegaren, Jessica (April 5, 2011). "Capitol Report: Stray rock, not protesters, damaged Kapanke's windshield". The Cap Times. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "PolitiFact Wisconsin | Wisconsin Sen. Dan Kapanke says protesters at the Capitol damaged the windshield of his car". Politifact.com. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  8. ^ "Committee to Recall Kapanke". Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. March 9, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  9. ^ Sargent, Greg (March 10, 2011). "Poll: Majorities support recall of two Wisconsin GOP senators". The Plum Line. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  10. ^ Knutson, Kari (March 27, 2011). "Kapanke speaks to supporters at GOP office opening; protesters show up across street". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  11. ^ Hubbuch, Chris (February 23, 2011). "Kapanke defends Walker plan; supports taking bargaining rights from police and fire". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  12. ^ Sargent, Greg (April 4, 2011). "Wisconsin recall drive already making history". The Plum Line. The Washington Post. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  13. ^ Hubbuch, Chris (April 1, 2011). "Update: Kapanke recall petition filed". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  14. ^ "Recall Election Information". Wisconsin Government Accountability. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  15. ^ Glauber, Bill (April 9, 2011). "Shilling announces candidacy against Kapanke". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  16. ^ Hubbuch, Chris (2011-06-02). "Tape: County GOP wanted a spoiler Democrat to run against Shilling in recall". Lacrossetribune.com. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  17. ^ "Expense of fake Democrats in primaries will top $400,000". JSOnline. 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  18. ^ "Kapanke talk may halt election-day snoozers". JSOnline. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  19. ^ "Sen Kapanke Challenges to Recall Petition" (PDF). Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. April 15, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  20. ^ Hubbuch, Chris (April 16, 2011). "Kapanke challenges recall petition". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  21. ^ Friebert, Finerty; St. John, S.C. (April 19, 2011). "2011_04_19 JPL to Kennedy (GAB) encl Pet Rebuttal.pdf" (PDF). Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  22. ^ Hubbuch, Chris (April 20, 2011). "Dems: Kapanke recall challenge is just 'insubstantial potshots'". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  23. ^ "GAB Finalizes List Of Candidates For GOP Recalls - Politics News Story - WISC Madison". Channel3000.com. Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  24. ^ "August 9 recall election results". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2011-08-09. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  25. ^ Mial, Richard (August 6, 2009). "Kapanke announces run for Kind seat". Coulee News. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  26. ^ Blake, Aaron (October 27, 2009). "NRCC adds 32 to Young Guns program". The Hill. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  27. ^ Marcus, Samantha (September 15, 2010). "Kapanke cruises to easy win in primary". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  28. ^ Marcus, Samantha (November 3, 2010). "Kind slips past Kapanke to retain seat". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  29. ^ "Fall General Election – 11/02/2004; State Senate, District No. 32". Wisconsin State Elections Board. December 1, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 10, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  30. ^ "Fall General Election – 11/04/2008; State Senate, District No. 32". Wisconsin State Elections Board. November 24, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 20, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
  31. ^ "2010 Fall General Election Results Summary - Post-Recount" (PDF). Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. December 1, 2010. Retrieved April 16, 2011.

External links[edit]