Two state lawmakers who will face off in a recall election traded blows Tuesday after one accused the other of not responding to a debate challenge.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin issued a press release Tuesday that accused Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, of ignoring a request from his challenger to participate in at least three debates.

State Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, is challenging Olsen for his Senate seat after about 24,000 people signed a petition to remove the senator. An election is anticipated in July.

Early last week Clark publicly challenged Olsen to participate in at least three debates before the election.

"I still have not received any calls or emails from Luther Olsen or his campaign," Clark said in the release from the Democratic Party.

Clark said although Olsen told media outlets he would be open to the debates, the senator has "ignored numerous contacts" asking him to commit to the idea.

Olsen's campaign manager, Jeff Weigand, shot back Tuesday afternoon in a news release of his own, calling Clark's accusation "ridiculous."

"The Olsen campaign never received a sigle (sic) phone call or e-mail inviting Sentor (sic) Olsen to a debate," Weigand said in the release. He said the senator first learned of the challenge when reporters contacted his campaign to request a comment.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Clark said Weigand's statement was not accurate.

Clark said he called Olsen's personal cell phone and left a message about his debate challenge the day before publicly announcing it. He said he also emailed Olsen and his campaign treasurer.

At the request of the News Republic, Clark provided a copy of that email, which appears to have been sent to Olsen's personal email account May 24. The email also appears to have been sent to the address of Olsen's campaign treasurer, Joan Wade.

The News Republic forwarded the email to Weigand and requested clarification regarding his assertion that Clark did not reach out to Olsen's campaign. Weigand did not respond to an email or phone call requesting comment.

In his news release, Weigand said Olsen has a very busy schedule as a member of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee and as chair of the Senate Education Committee.

"I realize he's busy, but the fact of the matter is I'm still waiting for him to return my phone call," Clark said in an interview Tuesday. "I don't know his campaign manager. All I can say is we made this invitation. I initiated it personally over a week ago... I'd much rather have a real debate than have debating press releases."

Olsen, whose district includes Baraboo and eastern Sauk County, was targeted for recall because of his support of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to revoke nearly all collective bargaining rights from public employees.

Three Democrats and six Republicans have been targeted for recall because of their support or opposition to the bill.

Send email to tdamos@capitalnewspapers.com

More from WiscNews

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Post a comment

MEPP138
MEPP138

This should be good. The debate will be between two people who for as far as I know did nothing for anyone. Clark

rqcrqc
rqcrqc

If Senator Olsen doesn't want to debate, for whatever reason, I respect his right not to. But pretending he does want to, while hiding behind his lying campaign manager, or claiming to be too "busy" -- that's hard to respect. (Campaign manager Jeff Weigand, by the way, is the same guy who lied about the conduct of the people the Republican Party of Sauk County recruited and organized to disrupt Fred Clark's candidacy announcement. They obstructed the sidewalk outside the Civic Center and formed a gauntlet of shouting men that people wanting to hear Representative Clark had to pass through -- but Weigand said they didn't need the permit required for political demonstrations because they were "always moving".)

hadenough
hadenough

Why should Olson have to debate Fred? After all it's very apparent that Olson makes the tough decisions to keep the state from large looming deficits while Fred's answer is to spend,spend, spend and ignore large pending state deficits, hoping they will magically go away.

Hematite
Hematite

Odd that Olsen would cite his duties on the Joint Finance Committee as a reason not to return a phone call. I've attended several JFC meetings, and the Republicans there spend considerably more time talking on their cell phones than listening to speakers or debating. Olsen might as well not attend the meetings in the first place for all of the effort and attention he puts into them. He doesn't decide anything. He just silently votes as he is instructed to vote by Walker and Fitzgerald.

rqcrqc
rqcrqc

From what I've seen, all the Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee vote as a flock, Olsen included. Does he have any ideas of his own, ever? Can anyone tell me? Seriously, I can't even find a quote from him about anything relevant to current political issues. He seems never to speak in public about anything controversial. Is that why he won't debate -- nothing to say? Afraid to say what he believes, or doesn't know?

Concerned Citiizen
Concerned Citiizen

As Mr. rqcrqc so eloquently pointed out below, statements made by Luther Olsen's campaign manager and spokesperson, one Jeffrey P. Weigand of New Berlin, Wisconsin, following the events on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, 2011 at the Baraboo Civic Center, proved that he (Weigand) is a chronic and unabashed liar. This most recent incident adds yet more weight to the credibility of that assertion.

As such, anything said by Weigand that this or any other news medium chooses to publish should be counterbalanced with a statement pointing out that not only nothing the man says can be trusted, but practically every statement he utters is a falsehood.

mitchdigger
mitchdigger

This could be said of ANY politician. Get off the hobby horse.
[quote]Concerned Citiizen said: "As Mr. rqcrqc so eloquently pointed out below, statements made by Luther Olsen's campaign manager and spokesperson, one Jeffrey P. Weigand of New Berlin, Wisconsin, following the events on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, 2011 at the Baraboo Civic Center, proved that he (Weigand) is a chronic and unabashed liar. This most recent incident adds yet more weight to the credibility of that assertion.As such, anything said by Weigand that this or any other news medium chooses to publish should be counterbalanced with a statement pointing out that not only nothing the man says can be trusted, but practically every statement he utters is a falsehood."[/quote]

Concerned Citiizen
Concerned Citiizen

Mr. Weigand is not a politician. He is an overpaid mouthpiece and liar for Luther Olsen, whom it appears, does not have a voice of his own other than the bleating sound he makes when Scooter Walker stamps his foot.