This is a big week in Wisconsin — with the state Democrats officially kicking off their effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Under the Dems’ official game-plan, the effort to recall Walker will begin on Tuesday, November 15. For the last few weeks, the Dems have been holding a series of training events and kickoff rallies, with even more happening today and tomorrow. They will need all that effort and preparation they can muster.
In order to trigger a recall, the Dems must meet a strong threshold: Signatures of at least 25 percent of the number of voters in the previous gubernatorial election must be collected in a 60-day window. That means the Dems must get over 540,000 signatures — over 9,000 per day, statewide — plus some significant buffer that campaigns routinely collect in order to protect against signatures being disqualified over one imperfection or another.Under Wisconsin’s recall law, elected officials must have served at least one year of their current term before being recalled — thus delaying any Dem efforts to recall Walker, and also exempting earlier this year the half of the Senate that was just elected in 2010.
Also, as the La Crosse Tribune points out, the Dems do not yet have a candidate of their own. Recalls in Wisconsin do not contain any straight up-or-down vote on the incumbent, but are in effect special elections, in which the incumbent is running to complete their own term against challengers.
“I believe that we get the signatures, then we get the candidate,” Wisconsin State Employees Union executive director Marty Beil told the paper.
In addition, Walker got a small headstart on fundraising on November 4, when a supporter filed a fake recall effort with the state — thus making Walker legally a target of a recall, and able to raise money. Under Wisconsin law, the target of a recall effort is able to raise unlimited amounts of money.
Possible candidates have included retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, Milwaukee Mayor and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Tom Barrett, and former Rep. Dave Obey. Recent polling shows voters narrowly disapproving of Walker, but also show him leading various hypothetical challengers, except for former Sen. Russ Feingold — and Feingold took himself out of the running earlier this year.
The state has achieved national fame (or infamy) this year for Walker’s legislation stripping public employee unions of most collective bargaining rights, the waves of protests that filled the state Capitol and other locations, and the tens of millions of dollars that were spent on this past summer’s recall campaigns.
Wisconsin Democrats, faced with a 19-14 Republican majority in the state Senate, attempted to mount a backlash against Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation, by recalling their way to a majority. However, they were also hampered by the fact that the only recall-eligible districts were ones where the incumbent had won their terms in 2008, even during that year’s Democratic wave.
In the end, Democrats were able to pick up two seats, just short of the magic number of three, for a narrow 17-16 Republican majority. Out of the recall campaigns that were waged by both parties, four incumbent Republicans and three Democrats retained their seats, while two Republicans lost to Democratic challengers.