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One Million Wisconsinites: Recall Gov. Walker

Uprising has 'potential to rock the politics not just of the state but of the nation in 2012'

Common Dreams staff

Agencies are reporting that organizers of the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have submitted more than one million signatures, far beyond the number needed to force a recall election.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

It would mark the first such gubernatorial recall in state history and would be only the third gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history. Organizers Tuesday also handed in 845,000 signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch as well as petitions against four GOP state senators including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.

The sheer number of signatures being filed against Walker - nearly as many as the total votes cast for the governor in November 2010 and almost twice as many as those needed to trigger a recall election - ensure the election will be held, said officials with the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the group that launched the Walker recall.

"It is beyond legal challenge," said Ryan Lawler, vice chairman of United Wisconsin.

The filing marks a milestone following Walker's controversial legislation ending most union bargaining for public workers. But Democrats have challenges before them to winning a recall election, including Walker's substantial fundraising and their lack of a candidate.

Writing for The Nation, John Nichols reports:

In all, close to 2 million signatures were submitted Tuesday, building the historic in-the-streets popular uprising that rocked Wisconsin in 2012 into a electoral uprising that has the potential to rock the politics not just of the state but of the nation in 2012.

The movement to oust Walker will have secured the support of a higher percentage of eligible voters than has ever before sought to recall an American governor.

No other gubernatorial recall drive in American history has gathered the signatures of so large a proportion of the electorate. The total number of signatures submitted Tuesday represents 46 percent of the turnout in the 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial election. That compares with 23.4 percent that signed the petitions that initiated the successful recall of California Governor Gray Davis in 2003 and 31.8 percent that signed petitions to recall North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier in 1921.

As Mary Bottari reports for PRWatch, the signatures came from across the state -- not just in democratic areas:

... signatures came from red as well as blue areas of the state. In conservative Walworth County, represented by Rep. Paul Ryan in Congress, volunteers collected an estimated 10,000 signatures, 2,000 more than their goal. “I am feeling pumped, optimistic and gratified,” said Ellen Holly, a United Wisconsin coordinator for the county. “But deep down, I am also a little bit angry and sad. I have never lived somewhere where I had to recall my government before,” she explained.

Volunteers in the small town of Burlington, which voted to support George W. Bush and John McCain and strongly backed Scott Walker in 2010, collected over 6,000 recall signatures from the area. Mary Ann Staupe, a retired school teacher, explained why people signed: “I asked every person who came into [the Burlington] office. Every person added another piece to the puzzle. Collective bargaining was just the tip of the iceberg. People were also concerned about neglected schools, neglected infrastructure, health care changes that hurt the poor and the disabled. Many people have friends and families in those situations. It was a huge tent.”

The Fond du Lac Reporter notes that Gov. Walker seemed to be unimpressed by the recall numbers:

Walker was in New York on Tuesday, attending a fundraiser. Ciara Matthews, his campaign spokeswoman, said he was “completely booked for the day” and unavailable for comment. But the governor did make time to speak to conservative radio hosts Charlie Sykes and Rush Limbaugh.

During the Limbaugh interview, Walker warned of recall “shenanigans” and said recall organizers have gotten “tons of money from the big government unions in Washington.”

He said his campaign would go through the process to review and challenge signatures believed to be fraudulent. And he said that if “given the truth,” voters will back “people who do what they say they are going to do.”

The governor predicted he would emerge from a recall race victorious, and said he thought the situation in Wisconsin would “send a powerful message” through statehouses across the country and in the halls of Congress.

United Wisconsin, the coalition behind organizing the recall, believes the high number of signatures reflects the will of Wisconsinites:

“The collection of more than one million signatures represents a crystal clear indication of how strong the appetite is to stop the damage and turmoil that Scott Walker has caused Wisconsin,” said Ryan Lawler, board member for United Wisconsin. “Scott Walker and his supporters tried to demean and marginalize recall circulators, but in Wisconsin winter, an army of more than 30,000 Wisconsin born-and-bred recall volunteers took to street corners, malls, places of worship, dinner tables and sidewalks to take their state back.”

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