The recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has begun.
On November 15, the starting gun goes off, as United Wisconsin, a group dedicated to recalling Governor Walker, begins the 60-day race to collect the 540,206 signatures needed to trigger a recall election.
Forget about tying the recall effort to the general Presidential election.
Forget about worries that a recall drive that begins this fall could end up coinciding with the Republican Presidential primary.
"We are going with the momentum," says United Wisconsin Co-chair Ryan Lawler. "We are going with the decisions of all the organizations in the state--grassroots, labor, and the Democratic Party--to move forward immediately."
On its official recall headquarters website, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has a slogan: "Recall Scott Walker Now: Because Wisconsin Can't Wait." United Wisconsin plans to open recall centers around the state and deploy thousands of volunteers to collect 700,000 signatures (adding a pad of more than 150,000 to the 25% of the electorate required to trigger a recall). It will be a massive grassroots effort, but members of the United Wisconsin board expressed confidence in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday that the group, working with partners around the state, could pull it off. The same groups--religious institutions, grassroots organizations and labor unions--that helped turn out tens of thousands of protesters last spring in Madison will be involved. But when the recall election actually takes place won't be determined for some time. Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board will have to verify all the signatures and certify the petitions, and then there are the legal challenges Republicans are likely to pose, which could burn up any amount of time in court. "It's really out of our control," says Lawler. "All we can do is go with the wisdom of having it as early as possible." On November 9, when the Government Accountability Board meets, it will offer some guidance on how the recall petition drive can proceed. The GAB--a board of retired judges--issued a decision recently that groups could send out pre-filled petitions to voters, with their names and addresses, ready to print out and sign. Republicans in the state legislature balked at that and tried a procedural maneuver that enraged legislative Democrats, moving for an "emergency rule change" on the issue that would give both the Republican-controlled legislature and Governor Walker himself ultimate veto authority over the process. "Allowing Governor Walker to veto any recall rule from the GAB that he doesn't like, for an election that affects him personally, is the definition of an abuse of power," said minority leader Peter Barca. GAB head Kevin Kennedy offered to go back to the drawing board and address the Republicans' concerns. The GAB will clarify what happens next at its open meeting on November 9. Meanwhile, the recall is heating up. United Wisconsin has already collected 200,000 "pledges" to sign petitions to recall Walker (fodder for one possible Republican legal challenge--collecting signatures before November 15). Stay tuned for more drama. The same Republican-led rules committee in the state legislature that is pushing the GAB to reverse itself on online recall petitions recently eliminated the agency's authority to require disclosure from campaign donors. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign wrote a great blog about it at the time. If you want to get a sense of the sheer chutzpah of the interests that have taken over our state government, it's worth reading the actual legislation (there's a PDF copy if you follow the link in McCabe's blog), which Republican legislators refused to share with Wisconsin Democracy Campaign or the public before the straight party-line vote: "An Act . . . prohibiting the promulgation of certain rules concerning campaign financing by the Government Accountability Board." "The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows . . . "The board shall not promulgate any rule 1. Affecting the authority of a foreign or domestic corporation or association . . . to make any disbursement independently of a candidate who is supported or opposed . . . 2. imposing upon any person, including any organization, any registration, reporting, filing, accounting, treasury, or fee payment requirements or any attribution requirements . . ." In other words, the people of Wisconsin hereby resolve to hand their state government to the highest bidder and bar the agency in charge of monitoring elections from ever requiring foreign or domestic corporations that meddle in state elections from being revealed to us. Nice. It gives you a sense of what we are up against. A statewide poll released Monday, October 10, showed Scott Walker with a 53% unfavorable rating. Independents support recalling the governor by a margin of 52-to-36. Starting now, the fight is on.
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "David Brooks Sticks Up for the Super-Rich."
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