Two weeks into her new job, Sarah Godlewski is still adjusting to being Wisconsin’s Secretary of State.
On March 17, it was announced that former secretary Doug LaFollette was suddenly retiring, three months into his new term, while Godlewski, the state’s former treasurer, was named as his successor.
During a recent visit to La Crosse, Godlewski spoke with WIZM about why she accepted the offer from Gov. Tony Evers.
“When the governor calls you into his office and talks to you about constitutional offices and says, ‘Sarah, I would like to appoint you into this position,’ you say, ‘Yes,’” Godlewski said. “And quite frankly, it’s an honor to be even considered.”
Godlewski had run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin last year, but withdrew from the race before the Democratic primary because Mandela Barnes had a substantial lead. That fact, and the suddenness of the change, led to some conspiracy theories.
Some critics charged that the LaFollette resignation, the appointment of Godlewski, and her departure from the Senate race were all part of a plot cooked up months ago. But Godlewski says she had no idea it would happen until Evers called her.
“I was completely floored when I found out,” she said. “It’s funny, because I was talking to my husband when I got home, and he was like, ‘How’s the governor, Sarah? Are you gonna be joining a task force, or what are you gonna be helpin’ out?’ And I’m like, ‘You’re looking at your new Secretary of State!’ and he’s like, ‘No kidding?’”
Republicans have called for a special election, so they can get a chance at the secretary’s office before the next scheduled election in 2026.
Before the election, some Republicans campaigned on putting the Secretary of State back in charge of Wisconsin elections, as it was many years ago. In these first three months after the election, however, that talk ended, as LaFollette took office.