Ready to Rumble: Bell Rings for Main Event in Wisconsin Recalls

Democrats confident there will be a recall election for Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 as efforts to collect 540,000 signatures began on Tuesday. Republicans call effort another waste of time.

The dust just settled after a series of heated state Senate recall elections over the summer, but those were just the prelude to the main event.

On Tuesday, recall organizers officially launched their campaign against their top target — Republican Gov. Scott Walker — and the clock is now ticking to gather enough signatures to force an election in 2012.

United Wisconsin, a coalition of grassroots organizations throughout the state, is spearheading the effort to put Walker’s agenda to a vote next year. Thousands of people already placed their names on petitions Tuesday, and organizers have 60 days to gather the 540,000 signatures needed to force a recall election.

Walker now finds himself facing a reality he never considered.

“Not in a million years did I think I would be here,” Walker told Charlie Sykes on his radio talk show on Newsradio 620 Tuesday morning.

In talking with friends during the Packers game Monday night, Walker said they made an “interesting observation” — during his time in office, he has merely accomplished the things he set out to do during his campaign and, his friends said, he’s being rewarded with a recall.

“We’re looking at moving the state forward, (but) you’ve got a select few that are more interested in chaos,” Walker told Sykes.

The quest to 540,000 begins

Collecting 540,000 signatures is indeed a big challenge, but Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said the enthusiasm and coordination is present in the state to make it happen. Only two governors have been successfully recalled in American history, but he hopes to add number three to that list.

“Recalls are not usually successful because you need a heck of a lot of man and woman power to do it. You're going to end up with that enthusiasm and appetite here precisely because of what Walker has done to Wisconsin,” Zielinski said while outside the Milwaukee recall headquarters.

Zielinski said petitioning locations large and small throughout the state had people in line ready to sign petitions at the stroke of midnight. Zielinksi said the momentum continued throughout the day, and added that there will be hundreds of events throughout the state in the next 60 days to generate support and gather signatures for the effort.

“There's going to be potlucks, pajama parties and bowling outings. We're going to be at deer cleaning stations on Black Friday. There will be plenty of places to hold Walker accountable,” he said.

As the day wrapped up Tuesday, Zielinski said he couldn't provide a number of how many signatures were collected the first day. However, he said: "We couldn't ask for a better day, and we've met and surpassed our goals."

What motivates volunteers?

Doris Black is a former Milwaukee Public Schools teacher who retired early after Walker implemented education reforms through the new collective-bargaining law known as Act 10. Rather than sitting back idly and enjoying a leisurely retirement, she got involved.

“I retired from MPS because of Scott Walker’s plan to run teachers out early. I’m mad. I’m upset — to say the least,” Black said.

As a volunteer, Black said the Milwaukee recall campaign offices have been a steady stream of activity throughout the day on Tuesday — and even before that. She said a lot of union workers, community activists, parents and state workers are part of the diverse group that has joined the effort in Milwaukee.

“People are sick and tired of the lies that have gone on. They’re tired of Scott Walker taking bribes from big business,” Black said.

To kickoff the campaign Tuesday in Milwaukee, Lisa Tareski placed the first signature on a petition.

Tareski won a contest held by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to have her signature in the top spot of the monumental stack of petitions that will be sent to the state Government Accountability Board for verification.

"People are sick and tired of the lies..."

Tareski said she voted for Walker in the gubernatorial election in 2010 — not because she supported his policies, but to get him out of Milwaukee County where she lives, and where Walker previously served as county executive.

Tareski, who comes from a family of union employees, said it’s an honor to have her name placed on in the top spot of the petitions that will be submitted.

“I regret my vote,” Tareski said. “Having my name at the top is kind of a slap in the face to him.”

But can they do it?

While those behind the recall realize the challenge that lies ahead, they are confident in their ability to grab enough signatures to successfully force a recall election — and it seems the experts have their backs, too.

Dennis Dresang, professor emeritus of political science at University of Wisconsin's La Follette School of Public Affairs said the effort to recall Walker is strikingly different than the Senate recalls in summer.

Most of the recall campaigns were held in Senate districts that were predominantly Republican. Now, in a statewide recall campaign, dyed-in-blue Democratic districts throughout the state will also get a chance to sign petitions, and vote — if it comes to that.

“The fact that Democrats won two of those elections in summer is something worth taking note of,” Dresang said. “Now we’ll have votes in both highly Republican districts and Democratic districts.”

Dresang said United Wisconsin got a good head start on the signature gathering process after more than 200,000 people pledged to sign one on the group’s website. He added that recent polling shows a majority of the state is still in favor of recalling the governor.

UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin said there are three points to consider when debating whether this recall effort will see success.

First, going back to the recent Senate recall efforts: the summer recall was able to obtain an average of 20,000 signatures in each of the nine Senate districts facing a recall; if that same success is seen in the 33 districts throughout the state, that equates to 660,000 signatures, or roughly 120,000 more than needed to recall Walker, he said.

“I think that’s the best reason to say there’s some actual evidence that says, ‘Well … yeah — maybe this is not out of reach,”’ Franklin said.

The second point to consider is the large amount of organization required to pull of a recall of this size, he said.

“There’s a lot of training for those signature gatherers to get it done right,” Franklin said, adding that he believes the pro-recall people have done an excellent job at getting this framework in place.

Finally, Franklin said the time frame is something of importance, not the 60-day recall period but rather the fact that those 60 days fall over the holidays. Recallers have hinted toward efforts being focused around shopping malls and other places busier because of the holidays, something they are hoping will boost signatures. Franklin isn’t sure yet whether it will actually help boost signatures, but he is sure the holidays will have an impact.

Though 540,000 signatures is a huge number, Franklin put it into a different perspective: Tom Barrett garnered just more than 1 million votes statewide in his run against Walker, meaning the recall effort only needs to collect signatures from about 60 percent of those voters to be successful.

But the big question for any political expert on Tuesday: Will organizers get enough signatures?

“I would put money on it and say they will,” Dresang said.

Republicans: Recall effort 'shouldn’t have happened'

Republican Party of Waukesha County Chairman Don Taylor said the recall effort is waste of a variety of resources.

“I deplore the perpetual election cycle that the Democrats and the unions are forcing on the state of Wisconsin," he said. "It’s very time consuming, it’s very labor consuming and it’s very expensive … it is something that shouldn’t have happened."

Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman — who dodged a recall when not enough signatures were raised to force an election — doesn’t think there are enough people wanting to see money spent on yet another expensive election.

“I would be surprised if in these times people would want to spend millions of dollars on an unnecessary election,” he said.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin stands behind Walker and all his accomplishments in the state since taking office.

“Governor Walker balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit, saved millions of dollars for school districts and municipalities around the state, improved Wisconsin’s economic climate which has yielded nearly 30,000 new private sector jobs to date, and has done it all without raising taxes,” said Nicole Larson, a spokeswoman for the group.

The mudslinging begins

The recall elections this summer were not only historic, but were also a highly visible platform for a storm of political mudslinging from both sides. Don’t expect much to change this time either. In fact, it’s already began.

Zielinski made headlines in summer after with the election results in the 8th Senate District - a statement that was quickly retracted. On Tuesday, he said they are on high alert for the “dirty tricks” Republicans may play.

"Scott Walker and his cronies are trying to intimidate people. They can't defend his record so they are trying to intimidate people with illegal acts,” Zielinski said.

Zielinksi said Democrats have uploaded more than 215 affidavits of "actual" recall fraud that the Republicans committed in summer. He said the party also has filed a complaint with the state claiming Republicans have recently attempted to destroy petitions and sell confusion.

On Monday, , and organizers immediately claimed the "attack" was “deliberate and coordinated in its target.” The FBI and the Wisconsin attorney general's office has been asked to investigate, the group said.

Taylor said he hasn’t heard of any efforts to sabotage the recall, and said the Republican Party of Waukesha County would definitely not be behind such actions.

“The Republican Party of Waukesha County would not condone any kind of illegal sabotage efforts. … we’re above all that,” Taylor said. “Obviously, we’re supporting Gov. Walker as well as the three state senators that are under attack, and probably the bulk of our effort and expenses will take place if and when the recalls are established.”

Taylor said he’s heard that the Obama Administration asked the Democratic recall organizers not to go through with the effort — something the group obviously didn’t pay attention to. Taylor points to separate offices in Waukesha — a headquarters for the Obama campaign and a separate office for the Recall Walker campaign — as an indication that the two ideas are not working together.

Either way, it’s going to be prudent to fasten your safety belts as the next few months unfold.

Dresang said there’s little doubt that money from outside groups on both sides will trickle into the state as the recall effort ramps up over the next few months. He also said it should come as no surprise if the courts are soon filled with legal challenges to stall the process.

“You’ll have litigation either way, there’s no doubt about that,” Dresang said.


More on the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker

  • A blog on JSOnline.com has a number of polls showing Walker’s approval and disapproval rates holding relatively steady since March, with approval rates in the low 40 percentile and disapproval rates in the low 50 percentile.
  • A photogallery on Patch .
  • A controversial rally . While no streets were blocked off, .
  • Just hours before the official start of the drive to, the group spearheading the effort said that its website was the victim of a cyberattack on Monday.
  • Just hours before the official start of the drive to, the group spearheading the effort, United Wisconsin, said that .
  • A live blog on Patch .
Thurston Howell III November 20, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Hudson Resident: Links provide information from noteworthy sources Dah!. New Richmond teachers have $2500 deductible. If you have a $5000 deductible that right there proves the "Free Market " health insurance isn't worth crap. I'm sure you're insured by Jesus Mutual, or in other words you better pray really hard that you never get sick.
Thurston Howell III November 20, 2011 at 12:49 AM
LOL $5000 deductable, That's a Edsel plan, You better start shopping around.
Lyle Ruble November 20, 2011 at 12:51 AM
@Thurston Howell III...Most of those who carry high deductibles also have health savings accounts. This greatly reduces the cost of monthly premiums and tax advantages.
Thurston Howell III November 20, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Hudson Resident seems to think that providing links to outside info is not fair play. Instead he keeps hammering on his one stringed instrument and redundant comments.
Bren November 20, 2011 at 01:18 AM
I have a HSA and a $7,500 family deductible. Our firm has had employees with multiple cancer and other serious illnesses and so for the past few years other insurance companies wouldn't even give us a bid. This year we can bid out, so hopefully our plan options will return. I'm just saying that it's tough for smaller organizations in these circumstances.
Hudsoner November 20, 2011 at 04:55 AM
Hudson Residen, you write" Just look at Greece and Europe in general to get a taste of what is coming our way. Go ahead and call me a simpleton," I am sorry, but just this one sentence identifies you as a simpleton! It seems to me that you have not the slightest idea about what's going on in Europe. Let me tell you the whole mess there has nothing to do with governmental unions (there are no governmental unions in most European countries). What it has to do with, is corrupt governments, similar to the one we currently have in Wisconsin, selling the countries out to big money! Countries with strong union movements, like Germany, are doing very well!
grs November 28, 2011 at 04:29 AM
True, no 'conspiring to hire thugs'; he legitimately considered hiring them. No conspiracy at all, just a reality. When the impostor David Koch suggested sending in some troublemakers to mess with the protestors, Walker responded, "The only problem...cuz we thought of that...my only gut reaction to that is....right now.... my only fear is that if there was a ruckus caused, that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has got to settle to avoid all these problems" Listen for yourself. About 14.5 mins into the 20 minute call: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/23/scott-walker-buffalo-beast-phone-prank_n_827058.html
Say What? November 28, 2011 at 05:16 AM
Oh no, Facts! I'm melting, melting, melting!!
Keith Best November 29, 2011 at 12:46 PM
For those who claim Gov. Walker did not campaign on reforming CB privileges, this nugget came from WEAC back in Oct. 2010 from an article in the Milw. JS from June of 2010 Right on WEAC's site: http://www.weac.org/LUC/newsletters/October%20Lakewood%20Lookout.pdf Scroll down to page 3. Proving the unions and liberal Democrats are lying once again
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 12:56 PM
@Keith Best...I don't see that there is anything in the newsletter that would indicate liberals are lying. In fact everything that they said would be done if Walker was elected has happened. This newsletter had limited circulation and the general electorate was never privy to this information. Walker never made this part of his public campaign. Oh well, the fat's in the fire now and I will watch with curiosity how you and the other conservatives spin around this one.
Keith Best November 29, 2011 at 01:03 PM
@Lyle Ruble--Did you read page 3, where all of candidate Walker's plans were laid out BY WEAC? Now they are claiming they never knew. Of course it's a lie. Why are you denying reality once again?
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 01:52 PM
@Keith Best...Of course I read page three, but you didn't read my comment very well. WEAC knew and alerted their members, but it was not common knowledge to the general electorate.
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Lyle, you're stretching the boundaries of plausibility here. The fact is that they, like many lefties, figured a Republican was unlikely to win. When has WEAC and its membership (which, btw, is significantly large enough that word of mouth would have sufficed, had they anticipated a loss) ever been shy about putting out information they felt served their purposes? They were apparently comfortable enough with that information when they were under the assumption that it would never come to fruition. Once it did, they were up in arms and Walker had to go. This entire process, from start to finish, is about a miscalculation on the part of Democrats as regards the outcome of the 2010 election - pure and simple.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 02:24 PM
@Bob McBride....Shame on WEAC and the Democrats. If they had this knowledge and didn't share it such a manner that disseminated to the general electorate, then I have to agree with you. I also stand guilty because I was not following this aspect of Walker's position, I was clearly focused on other aspects of his plan/ideology. I think there was a great deal of miscalculation on the part of the left and we couldn't imagine such fundamental structural changes. Now we are in the midst of trying to correct a problem we had a great deal to do with in creating. Although the left can't turn the clock back, we do have to stop the "run away train" that is taking this state in the wrong direction, away from democracy and into the jaws of tyranny.
Jay Sykes November 29, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I guess no one reads the J/S(see below), so the info on removing healthcare from collective bargaining was not common knowledge. And further, Barrett(Walkers opponent) understood Walker's plans, as the newsletter interviewed/cross quoted him in opposition to Walkers position: “I believe in collective bargaining.” Walker supports a bill that would take away the right of unions to negotiate health care benefits. Ryan Murray, Campaign Policy Adviser for Walker, said "The way the proposal would work is we would take the choice out of the collective bargaining process." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/29/10
Nick Poulos November 29, 2011 at 02:55 PM
@Jay: thanks for helping to point out, in the comment on J/S, the trouble we voters have relative to what is concealed vs what is unconcealed. @Lyle: keep fighting against this near fascistic denial of republican democracy. bring back the ideals of LaFollette and of Proxmire! "p-party on dudes!"
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Lyle, if you can accept that particular miscalculation, why is it not possible that you're now miscalculating the intent and overall effect of the changes Walker has put in place? If you selectively believe one thing someone says, discount other things and label yet others lies, how do you know which is which? The least extraordinary (and, as we're finding out, apparently not even unknown) part of what's happened since January is what Walker and the Republican legislature have done, rather it's the reaction to it on the part of the those who lost out in the election that's unprecedented. Marches, recalls, recounts, etc. And basically, all based on a "miscalculation" of the extent to which the general populace was behind the Democratic party, its candidates and its performance since 2008. It's happening here for a number of reasons the key ones being as follows: A somewhat controversial Republican governor, a teacher's union that wields significantly more power (and an associated ability to call its members and supporters to action) than do its counterparts in other states, and some loosey-goosey recall laws. If a challenge was going to be mounted somewhere, this was the perfect place for it. It's been the progenitor to the actions in Ohio, the OWS movement, and if it succeeds you can count on it becoming SOP whenever Democrats lose going forward. It's unnecessary, but your side is gambling it will work, so that's why it's in play.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 04:29 PM
@bob McBride... The left may have miscalculated Walker during the election, but there is no doubt now on his intent and direction. I opposed him during the election for a number of issues, including his lack of positive performance as CE. I directly oppose libertarianism and Walker is a committed libertarian. He is a dedicated corporatist and I see unregulated corporatism as leading to the economic mess we are in. I am a strong believer in social justice and true equal opportunity and Walker represents the antithesis. We'll see if the majority of Wisconsinites share his view or mine.
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 04:44 PM
Lyle, that's what elections are about. You exercised your right to vote against him based on what you believe him to be, the majority voted for him and he won. Similarly, in past elections you've voted for the candidate you supported, they've subsequently won or lost and you've accepted that decision. I can say the same. The fact that your side was essentially asleep at the wheel and didn't realize that the tide was turning against you doesn't make the 2010 elections any different than those of past years. The fact the Walker has not been elected to an indefinite term and will be up for re-election in 4 years also doesn't point to this as being different from any previous elections. The fact that there's absolutely nothing Walker and the Republicans can do that can't be reversed by subsequent administrations and legislatures doesn't make it any different from previous elections. The only thing that makes it different is the extent to which your side is willing to go, in terms of mischaracterizing what Walker is doing, in terms of participating in public displays of displeasure and in terms of utilizing rarely used techniques that in the past have been preserved for use only during extraordinary circumstances to essentially negate the results of the last election. And all this is being done because Walker had the temerity to take on an overly powerful, public employee union that will not cotton to not getting its way.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 04:56 PM
@Bob McBride...Point well taken, but our democratic process is at work as constitutionally outlined. You and I will both have to live with the results and deal with the realities of future turmoil. If recalls become so dysfunctional we'll have to fight it out and change it. Out of personal curiosity; since you are a Walker supporter, at what point do you consider that he'll have gone too far? Do you wish to see all state agencies and regulations thrown on the scrap heap and everything that can be privatized turned over to private enterprise? What should be retained and what should be privatized?
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Lyle, since you're an Obama supporter, at what point do you consider he'll have gone too far? When all private enterprises are taken over by the government and the "1%" are loaded onto trucks and shipped out to work at "re-education centers", working the fields picking lettuce while their illegal alien overseers crack whips to keep them moving? Can they at least keep their black cards so they can attempt to keep their strength by gorging on caviar and triple digit bottles of vino in the evenings? Please, Lyle, let's not get stupid here.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 06:01 PM
@Bob McBride...I wasn't attempting to go stupid, I was asking a serious question. Do you have a tipping point? Obama is an entirely different matter. If there was another alternative rather than what the Republicans are going to put up, I would take a serious look. As far as 1% reeducation camps, we can only dream. Where's Mao's little red book? Oh it's sitting in my library next to the Communist Manifesto which next Handbook for Radicals.
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Here's the serious answer. It's the same one that I've given you before when we've discussed this. I'll keep it short. Everything in government, from local to state level, needs to be examined to see if similar services are provided in the private sector or by other government divisions. RFBs should be sent out, responses examined and qualified by the existing knowledgable department heads for not only savings, but assurance that the bidder can provide the required service. If it's determined that the existing public employee staffed service is the best, it's kept. If not, the employees or their reps in the union or whatever are offered an opportunity to met the best bid. If they refuse, the work goes to the best bidder. Contracts are for a maximum of 4 years, at which point (or at an earlier point, if so determined by the department head) new bids are sought. In all cases, if the existing service provider is the public employee group originally in place, they are given a chance to meet the best bid. That privilege is not extended to private vendors or other public employee divisions from other areas that might be bidding on the work as well. Example: WFB decides to bid out garbage collection via a public RFB that's open to private and public providers. After the bids come in, Shorewood's DPW is the winner. WFB's DPW is offered the chance to meet it or decline. If they decline, the contract is awarded to Shorewood's DPW. If not, WFB DPW keeps the business.
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 06:31 PM
That's more than a tipping point, that's a goal. Anything that gets us closer to that goal is acceptable as far as I'm concerned. I approve of the direction Walker is moving in that it's more likely to get us closer to that goal than the alternative of coddling the unions and continuing to attempt to isolate public employees from the very real effects of a dwindling economy. Do you have your copies of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and "Trout Fishing in America" sitting there and collecting dust as well, Lyle? If not, I will have to doubt the seriousness of your period-appropriate lefty credentials.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 07:21 PM
@Bob McBride...It's not a home without those two volumes. I have a few volumes of Alan Watts sitting around as well as Calos Castaneda.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 07:34 PM
@Bob McBride...I know that was your answer and I can see it in garbage and recycling collection, but what about the schools?
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Wherever it makes sense, Lyle. I'm not ruling out any particular departments simply because it might seem intuitive to do so. I'd leave it up to the department heads, however they would be required to provide evidence as to why their decision either way (whether to farm out the work, or not) makes sense both fiscally and from the point of view of continuing to provide adequate service. Which means they're going to go through the investigative and RFB (if applicable) process first.
Lyle Ruble November 29, 2011 at 09:07 PM
@Bob McBride...I don't necessarily disagree with you. My only concern is how do we keep politics out of it and direction to agency heads from above. I would rather see a non-partisan commission take it up and make the decision, just like for closing miltary bases.
Bob McBride November 29, 2011 at 09:43 PM
"Non-partisan" commissions are great if your goal is to make sure things take forever. You can't keep the politics out of it any more than you're keeping the politics out of it now, but if you require folks to produce results upon which their jobs depend and offer incentives for jobs well done, you can cut through a lot of the politics that way. Frankly, if you've been to any local board meetings and seen how decisions are made at that level sometimes, what I'm suggesting is much less "political" and involves a much more sophisticated decision making process that much of what you'll see there.
Nick Poulos November 30, 2011 at 01:15 AM
@Bob and @Lyle: I would be happy to share a facilitation strategy for the two of you to use so avoid the politics and the nonpartisan committee's version of partisan paralysis or brain-freeze. let me know if you would like to talk about it further. best, ngp party on!


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