MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – State Senator Randy Hopper was granted a 10-day extension to challenge signatures on his recall petition. But any re-election campaign may be complicated by tales of an extramarital affair with a young woman who just got a state job – even Hopper’s estranged wife wants him recalled.
Hopper’s was the second of eight recall petitions filed against state senators this month in the furor over Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union budget bill, which is still tied up in court. Five recalls are against Republicans, three against Democrats.
Hopper, 45, a first-term Republican who was elected to the Senate in 2008, represents a swing district with a heavy union presence. He is chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Veterans and Military Affairs, and supported the union-busting bill, stating on his website: “It is reassuring … to hear Governor Walker and my legislative colleagues acknowledge that it is past time to do what the previous administration failed to do – create a balanced budget without kicking the can down the road to future generations.”
Many constituents were furious at Hopper’s support of the bill: He campaigned as a union-supporting family man – even sporting an AFSCME T-shirt in a campaign photo.
He’s been viewed as particularly vulnerable to recall since allegations of an affair with a 25-year-old former Republican aide hit the Web, spawning a new nickname, “Randy Bed Hopper.”
Gov. Walker recently hired the alleged mistress for a state job with the Department of Regulation and Licensing at a “substantial pay raise” over her predecessor, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Even Hopper’s estranged wife supports his recall, captioning her Facebook profile photo with “Recall Randy Hopper.”
Hopper filed for divorce in August.
Volunteers collected more than 22,500 signatures to recall Hopper in less than 5 weeks, one of the fastest recall efforts in state history, according to the Government Accountability Board.
In his request for an extension in Dane County Court, Hopper said he was reviewing what he called “a significant number of irregularities and invalid signatures” on the petitions.
He said as many as 1,000 signatories appear to come from outside his district. He said there appeared to be a number of duplicate signatures, numerous instances of entries with incomplete or invalid information, and entries with illegible or inconsistent handwriting.
The Government Accountability Board is expected to take weeks to review the signatures; its decision could be appealed by Hopper or by his Committee to Recall.
Hopper’s 2008 opponent, a deputy mayor who lost by 164 votes, has announced her intent to run against Hopper in the recall election expected to take place sometime this summer.