Two candidates running for the 1st Congressional District seat could find themselves out of the race if some of their nominating signatures are ruled invalid.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin is challenging 31 signatures on nominating papers filed by John Baker of Mukwonago, who is challenging the first-term incumbent, Bryan Steil of Janesville.

Candidates were required to file at least 1,000 signatures, and Baker filed 1,007, according to the challenge document.

The challenge says the 31 don’t live in the 1st Congressional District as required. Most of those signatures were from people with Waukesha or New Berlin addresses and one with a Milwaukee address.

Baker could be disqualified if the state Elections Commission rules them invalid, which would leave Steil as the only Republican on the fall ballot, with no primary election.

On the Democratic side, candidate Roger Polack of Caledonia is challenging signatures filed by Josh Pade of Bristol.

Polack says Pade filed 1,021 signatures, and Polack is challenging 37 of those signatures.

If Pade is disqualified, Polack would be the only Democrat in the Nov. 3 election.

Polack is challenging Pade’s signatures with these allegations:

  • Eighteen people signed petitions when the person circulating the papers—the circulator—wasn’t present. Polack alleges those petitions were signed at an event May 9 and were certified by circulator Jessica Randazza-Pade, Pade’s wife. Polack alleges she never attended the event.
  • Ten signatures on Pade’s papers were people who previously signed nominating petitions for Polack. State statutes say only the first signature someone signs in a particular race is valid.
  • Seven signatures were signed by people who either live outside the district or whose addresses could not be determined using information listed on the petitions.
  • Two dated their signatures later than the date certified by the circulator.

Baker and Pade must have filed any written response to the challenges by Monday, and they also could appear before the state Elections Commission to argue their cases.

The commission is expected to rule on the challenges at its meeting Wednesday.

Candidates had a more difficult time getting signatures this year because of coronavirus restrictions or people’s concerns about the virus that made them reluctant to have contact with others.