The recall effort mounted against eight Wisconsin Republican state senators has secured nearly half of the signatures required in order to proceed with the recall process. The effort, undertaken by Wisconsin voters along with pro-labor, progressive and democratic organizations, has more than a month remaining to gather the required signatures.
Now that the bill stripping nearly all collective bargaining rights from most state workers has been rammed through the state legislature and Governor Walker’s budget bill is all but certain to pass, the recall effort is in overdrive.
Only two weeks ago, the Wisconsin Democratic Party announced in an email that, “…citizens from around the state took the first steps by filing recall papers against key Republican Senators who have stood with Scott Walker and pushed his partisan power grab that will strip thousands of middle class teachers, nurses, librarians and other workers of their right to collective bargaining.”
Now recall efforts against GOP senators are ahead of pace in signature gathering in every single one of the eight districts being targeted. In three of the districts, organizers have well over 50 percent of the number required.
Republican organizations have also mounted recall drives against eight Democrats in the state senate, but refuse to disclose the number of signatures they have gathered. The recall efforts are unprecedented in Wisconsin because every state senator that currently can be recalled is facing a potential recall election.
Republicans currently have a 19 to 14 majority in the Wisconsin Senate. Under Wisconsin law, any elected official who has served at least one year of their current term can be recalled from office.
Organizers of the recall efforts must collect 25 percent of the number who voted in each Senator’s district in the last gubernatorial election within 60 days of filing for recalls. Under the timetables in state law, the 60-day petition period that is under way in 16 Senate districts is followed by a 31-day period where signatures are challenged, defended and reviewed. That period can be extended by a court order.
The Washington Post reported that organizers targeting GOP senators have “collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from roughly 14,000 after last weekend. This means [the recall effort] is well ahead of schedule.”
If enough signatures are declared valid, an election is scheduled for six weeks later. If more than one challenger in the same party files papers, then that election serves as the party primary, which is followed four weeks later by a general election.
Though the national media has largely treated the Wisconsin story as resolved, the new signature numbers suggest the GOP’s maneuver may only be giving more momentum to the recall drives.
On an aside note, Wisconsin state Senator Randy Hopper (R – Fond du Lac), who is targeted for recall, was not found in his district by demonstrators who picketed his residence last weekend. Hopper’s wife, however, informed organizers that he is living in Madison with a 25-year old lobbyist before signing the recall petition against him. Living in another district may be in violation of a state law.
While it is nearly impossible to verify the exact number of recall signatures on either side at this time, it is clear that the recalls targeting GOP senators have the momentum. Democrats and labor organizations are raising money for the recall drives at a frenzied pace, and organizers obtained thousands of signatures from voters gathered at a huge rally in Madison over the weekend.
The only caveats here are that the initial surge of signatures are easier to obtain than the last few, so sustaining the momentum will be difficult. Furthermore, since challenges to signatures are certain to occur, organizers need a comfortable buffer of signatures beyond the minimum required.
Gov. Walker, who was inaugurated last January, will not be eligible for a recall until 2012. It will take over 540,000 signatures to trigger a recall of Governor Walker in 2012.
Will the people of Wisconsin follow through with the enthusiasm expressed at the rallies in Madison, or will these efforts fade as time goes by? The first indicator of the answer to that will come in about 45 days.
Read more here:
Wisconsin Democratic Party
The Washington Post
The Raw Story
Madison Independent Examiner