Evers: La Follette resigned saying he was sick of this stuff

“He brought to my office a letter saying I’m sick of this stuff.”
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 3:36 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:52 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – “He brought to my office a letter saying I’m sick of this stuff.”

That’s how Gov. Tony Evers described the surprise resignation of longtime Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette late last week. The governor did not elaborate on what La Follette was “sick of;” what drove the man who held the seat for forty years to quit just months after being re-elected to an 11th term.

The governor explained he first heard about the possibility La Follette would resign last Tuesday, when the letter was written and three days before the news was made public. La Follette’s departure was revealed Friday when the Evers Administration announced former state treasurer Sarah Godlewski would replace him.

Republicans quickly cried foul after the appointment of Godlewski, who had given up her treasurer role to take a shot at unseating Sen. Ron Johnson, only to drop out of the race in favor of the eventual Democratic nominee, then-Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

“Now we see why Godlewski ducked out of the US Senate race, as she was apparently promised a soft landing,” Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Brian Schimming said last week.

Evers dismissed such allegations, indicating he had never discussed the Secretary of State job with Godlewski before Wednesday, the day after La Follette’s abrupt departure.

The governor went on to draw parallels to his appointment of Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who took over for Evers when he was elected governor in 2018, arguing that people then did not object to him making an appointment.

“Why did I not hear one word when I appointed Carolyn Stanford Taylor as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, which I would argue is even a more high profile job than Secretary of State?” he asked rhetorically.

Evers did not acknowledge, however, the differences between his example and last week’s events. In 2018, the Superintendent of Public Instruction seat opened up after the person who held the position, i.e., Evers, ran for and won the governorship. La Follette’s letter of resignation came after a hard-fought race that could have had major consequences for both parties in future elections. If Democrats had lost the seat La Follette has held for decades, some GOP members were considering empowering a Republican Secretary of State with more powers to oversee elections. La Follette winning for the 11th time blocked those plans.

Speaking toward why he picked Godlewski, Evers explained her role as treasurer intersected with the secretary of state’s office, citing as an example, the Board of Commissioners of Public Land. The governor went on to predict she would be a perfect fit, adding “I trust her implicitly.”

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