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Yesterday in La Crosse

Voters in Wisconsin tried recalling a senator, 88 years ago

Brad Williams



Recall elections have been held frequently in the La Crosse area over the past 50 years, but they haven’t been always been legal in Wisconsin.  A recall process wasn’t added to the state constitution until 1926.  The law was tested for the first time six years later, in the summer of 1932.  Wausau State Senator Otto Mueller was targeted for recall, apparently for voting against a $17 million relief bill during the Depression.  Mueller survived the recall election, but lost the regular election that year.  He returned to the state senate in 1939.  Recalls were rarely attempted in Wisconsin after the Mueller case, until 1977, the summer that five La Crosse school board members were ousted for firing a junior high school principal.  

Republican Herbert Hoover was running for a second term as president in 1932.  To challenge Hoover, Democrats nominated New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Chosen as Roosevelt’s running mate was Speaker of the House John Nance Garner, who had been a candidate for president earlier in the year.  In the November election, Hoover won Pennsylvania and five smaller states.  Roosevelt won the rest, also becoming the first Democrat to ever win Minnesota.  

President Hoover did not attend the 1932 Summer Olympics, even though they were held in the U.S., at Los Angeles.  In La Crosse that summer, a riverboat called the Capitol was offering bargain trips to Winona.  A big hit movie of the year, “Grand Hotel,” starring Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, and Joan Crawford, was playing at the Majestic Theater in 1932, yesterday in La Crosse.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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