Wisconsin’s Scott Walker Likely to Face Recall: Organizers Say 1 Million Petitions Signed

Only months ago Wisconsin’s union-busting Gov. Scott Walker seemed to feel he was on the path to becoming another President Ronald Reagan. But now it sounds as if he’s more likely to be on the path to becoming another California Gov. Gray Davis, the Governor recalled by voters in 2003:

Critics of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin submitted to the state on Tuesday more than a million signatures, nearly twice as many as required, on recall petitions against him to force a new election.

State election officials now begin the arduous, expensive process of studying the petitions for flaws and duplicated names. But leaders of the recall effort said the number of signatures was so large as to put any serious legal challenge out of reach. The anti-Walker forces needed 540,208 names and had estimated that they would produce at least 720,000, so the still larger number came as a surprise to many.

Barring a legal fight, Mr. Walker, a Republican who took office a year ago and set off a firestorm by curtailing collective bargaining rights for public workers, will face a new election in the late spring or early summer. Around the country, only two governors have ever been removed through recall.

“This sends a message,” said Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, who described the one million names as evidence that this was the largest signature drive, in terms of the percentage of the state’s electorate signing, for a recall effort in United States history.

Mr. Walker was attending a fund-raiser in New York on Tuesday, but had said earlier that a recall election appeared inevitable.

“I look forward to talking to the people of Wisconsin about my continued promises to control government spending, balance the budget and hold the line on taxes,” Mr. Walker said in a statement released by his campaign office as the petitions — all 3,000 pounds of them — were being delivered to state officials with great fanfare. He added later, “Instead of going back to the days of billion-dollar budget deficits, double-digit tax increases and record job loss, I expect Wisconsin voters will stand with me and keep moving Wisconsin forward.”

Reuters:

Indeed recall organizers on Tuesday also submitted what they said were enough recall petitions to force four Republican state senators, including Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, as well as Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, into special elections defending their seats later this year.

The elections could tip the balance of power in the state Senate, where Republicans currently hold a 17-16 majority.

But they may also provide an early glimpse of how closely fought the 2012 presidential race will be in key Midwestern states like Wisconsin, where voters backed Barack Obama in 2008 but handed victories to Republicans in the 2010 midterms.

JSO Online:

State Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) has said he will run against Walker if a recall election is held, and other Democrats are expected to get in the race. Potential candidates include Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010; former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk; and former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey of Wausau.

Polling released Tuesday showed that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett leads all Democratic contenders in a possible primary to pick a challenger to Walker.

Barrett led Falk 46% to 27% in a survey released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling. Barrett was ahead of Obey 42% to 32% in a head-to-head matchup.

If the primary race were between just Obey and Falk, the former congressman would lead 43% to 28%, the poll found. If there was a primary involving all four Democrats, Barrett would lead that, too, according to the poll, with 26%, to 22% for Falk, 21% for Obey and 11% for Cullen.

The PPP poll surveyed 522 respondents Monday who said they were certain or likely to vote in a Democratic primary for governor and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The firm is aligned with Democrats, but its polling largely tracked the results in Wisconsin’s 2010 gubernatorial election.

Barrett issued a statement that said, “I stand with the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Wisconsin citizens who have had enough of Walker’s cynical politics that try to divide the people of our state. It’s time for a new direction that will heal our fractured state and move Wisconsin forward again.”

Falk said Walker should accept the election will happen.

“There should be no delaying tactics and legal tricks by Governor Walker and his allies to try to postpone the election. Let’s go,” Falk said.

Obey, who has been in state politics for a half-century, called the recall effort “an amazing development” but like Barrett and Falk declined to say whether he might run against Walker. Another possible candidate, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), also declined comment.

Cullen said he was still committed to run “until I’m elected governor or it doesn’t make any more sense to run. Right now, it still makes sense.”

Clearly, with stakes this high each side is going to pull out all stops to try and make sure that this happens/doesn’t happen. And look for big bucks from outside $$$ sources to pour into each side. Look for left and right talk show hosts to make this a huge cause. Look for some blogs and websites to cover this and press their partisan cases.

The key question will be whether Walker misread his mandate from voters and there is intense buyer’s remorse. I suspect the fervor will be weighted more on the Democratic Party side on this one — which could help mobilize party members and sympathizers in the general election in November as well.

But this will be a field day — for lawyers.

Photo via Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com

  

8 Comments

  1. People are hardheaded. It takes Republican policies and legislation to slap them into action.

  2. Well, once again, I find myself opposing recall. I opposed Davis’ recall in California. I do not think that recall elections should be allowed.

    That being said, this is the Unions pushing things. Thus, I would be surprised if even a thousand of these signatures are actually valid. I presume corruption any time they are involved. They have always been corrupt, and, despite some very important work they have done, they are rightly presumed to be corrupt, given the way they have handled themselves.

  3. @PJB
    Please show ANY corruption and give us links. There is more voter disenfranchisement than voter fraud…
    Lets go back to the good ole days when only WHITE males could vote.

  4. Rejecting the right to recall is equal to rejecting participatory democracy.

    I personally think it’s far too disrupting, but it is a fundamental right and should not be dismissed out of hand.

  5. I think it’s important to remember that, while Walker’s attrocious aggression against organized labor is his most visible failure of decency, there are myriad other manifestations of Walker’s garbage philosophy of governance.

    Let’s just say, I shan’t weep to see him go.

  6. Recall elections should be part of any democratic process under specific conditions.

    I believe if an elected offical uses the office for illegal practices, that is one of the specifics. But if an elected official fulfills the desires of those that put them in office, that is not one of the reasons a recall should be allowed. The regular election process allows for an orderly change without creating additional expenses for a recall election.

    Any person with enough intelligence to vote should know that a Republican is going to go into office, oppose unions and their desires, cut taxes, cut spending and balance budgets. If those voting do not understand the Republican positions and still vote for them, should they really be voting?

    If the state does not like what Walker is doing, then they have a right to make a change, but should this change come less than 2 years after taking office just because the unions do not like what he and the legislature is doing?

    If the voters decide to recall Walker, then maybe it is the time for Wisconsin to look at the state constitution and also put an amendment up for a vote changing the Governors term from 4 years to 2 years. That way they could avoid recall in the future.

  7. I agree that recall should only be considered in drastic conditions; otherwise the election process should be allowed to play itself out.

    I also agree that the voters are capable of determining what those drastic conditions are.

    The Wisconsin constitution provides the process for a recall and doesn’t give any specification about when or why a recall should be attempted.

    See Section 12:

    http://my.execpc.com/~fedsoc/wi-con13.html

  8. @Rudi: It was white, land-owning males
    @PJBFan: Unions have always been corrupt? That is an interesting premise given that factory owners used to hire Pinkerton to beat the living daylights out of any worker who so much as suggested that wages and conditions were ‘not so good’.

    If you work an 8-hour day, thank the unions. If you are allowed a lunch break, thank the unions. If you have company-sponsored health plan, thank the unions. You can not be arbitrarily fired due to unions.

    Any organization can have bad eggs. The question is not whether there are some people doing shady things, the question should be whether or not those shady things are the purpose of the organization. Recently ‘Wall Street’ has gotten a bad reputation. The financial sector exists to allow corporations (and companies sometimes) to obtain capital for running their businesses. Otherwise, those firms would have to go to the TBTF banks (since small ones would not have enough money to be able to loan the quantities needed). That would give the TBTF’s way to much clout–likely making the interest on such loans prohibitive.

    Thus: there are some bad eggs in the financial industry. I do NOT vilify the entire sector for the evil done by certain miscreants. Instead, I seek to ensure that honest finance people will know that their coworkers are ‘betting the company on the roulette wheel’, so to speak. Then they can make INFORMED decisions as to whether or not they really want to work at given firms.

    My father worked for UPS during the time of Jimmy Hoffa. The union had some corrupt people (including the head of the union). That did not mean that my father and uncle were, by association, highly suspect in their activities–EVEN THEIR UNION ACTIVITIES! The title of this web page should be enough suggestion to you that vilifying an entire group is stupid, misinformed, unproductive and, for lack of a better word (that I would be willing to use), BAD.

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