In an effort to recall Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, state Democrats, along with a mass of organized labor, delivered what they said were over one million recall petition signatures to the Government Accountability Board in Madison on Tuesday. The number of petitions collected was nearly double the required 540,208 needed to trigger recall election of the embattled first-term Republican governor. The boxes of petitions, weighing over 3,000 pounds, were delivered via a U-Haul truck from an undisclosed location where thousands of volunteers worked day and night to verify and prepare the historic payload.
In the early days of the recall the massive 540,208 count was in doubt to some, but not to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which asserted it collected over 105,000 signatures in the first 96 hours of the effort and 300,000 in the first 12 days. Confidence in many Republican circles rose due to the fact that the petition drive had to extend past Democratic strongholds Madison and metropolitan Milwaukee.
The filing kicks off what many in Wisconsin hope will be only the third successful recall in the history of the country, with the most recent campaign waged against California Democrat Gray Davis in 2003. Mr. Davis was replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went on to win a second term.
In addition to Mr. Walker, Wisconsin party chairman Mike Tate announced his disparate band of voters delivered approximately 845,000 signatures in an effort to recall republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and a quartet of Republican state senators. The signatures are due to be verified by the non-partisan Government Accountability Board on East Washington Avenue in the coming weeks.
Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney released the following statement: “We had no doubt the Democrats would be able to rally their left-wing supporters around this baseless and expensive recall effort.”
Though the picture looks potentially grim for Governor Walker and the slate of fellow Republicans up for recall, there might be hope in history in a 2011 precedent that saw Wisconsin Democrats attempting a recall of six state senators attached to the Governor Walkers anti-union legislation. Ultimately four of the state senators fought off recall efforts and kept their jobs, which, in effect, maintained control of the Badger State senate.
With the recall election not yet scheduled, but most-likely planned for the summer, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk launched her bid for the Democratic position on Wednesday. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Falk made her campaign announcement with an online video message to her supporters. “Faced with an all-out assault on all that matters to us, we reacted not with despair, not with anger, but with hope,” she said in the video. “Hope has inspired this movement, and the people of this movement inspire me.”
A crowded democratic field is almost assured to take shape in the coming weeks and months. Professional Firefighters Union president Mahlon Mitchell, who marched along side Ms. Falk and organizers filing paperwork in November, is a probably candidate for either Governor or Lt. Governor. State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), who was one of the Wisconsin 14 that went into exile in Illinois for 21 days, to stem the push for anti-collective bargaining legislation bundled in a budget repair bill leaned against a U.S. congressional run earlier in the year, but is a potential candidate for governor.
Other potential Democrats are Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who fell to Mr. Walker by five points in 2010, along with Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, Rep. Ron Kind, former Rep. Dave Obey.