Wisconsin Adversaries Dig In on Gov. Scott Walker Recall

Jan 18, 2012 3:15pm

The effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker has Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats digging in their heels for a long, arduous process ahead.

United Wisconsin, which organized the plan to recall the Republican governor, submitted more than 1 million signatures to the state’s Government Accountability Board Tuesday, apparently making it a recall effort with the most participants in U.S. history.

Although the number of signatures is well above the required 540,208 needed for a recall to proceed, an election is not certain. The state’s Government Accountability Board must first verify each of the signed names, which it has 60 days to complete. The board has already asked for additional time, and said it will invest in $100,000 of new computer software to help complete the verification process.

Despite Walker opponents’ signature-gathering prowess, a recall election would likely be a tight race, analysts say, and the 1 million-plus signatures wouldn’t necessarily mean a strong voter turnout.

“This was a pretty strong showing, but Walker’s going to fight, too,” said Kyle Kondik, political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “I don’t think it’s a given that anyone who signed a petition is going to vote in a recall. You have to wonder how turnout’s going to be. Are there going to be more votes cast in this special election than there were in the gubernatorial election in 2010?”

If the signatures are verified, Democrats would have a six-week primary season to select a candidate to run against Walker in a recall. The recall election would take place four weeks after the primary. One state Democrat has already declared her intentions to run against Walker: Kathleen Tate, a former executive for Dane County, which encompasses the state capital of Madison.

Other Democratic candidates are likely to follow in the coming weeks and months. Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said the party will not endorse any candidate until after the primary has taken place.

“I think the fact that we are probably very likely to have a Democratic primary is a sign of how weak Scott Walker is,” Tate said. “I think it is a sign of how much trouble he is really in.”

In the meantime, a quirk in Wisconsin state laws allow Walker to take in unlimited contributions while signatures are being gathered and reviewed. The governor has so far taken in more than $5 million, and is spending heavily on television ads, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. Walker spent more than $1 million in the first month of signature gathering alone.

Walker will also have the support of the well-financed Republican Governor’s Association. The RGA launched a new website in support of  Walker Tuesday titled StandWithScott.com.

“Gov. Walker tackled Wisconsin’s problems head on, and his plan to turn around Wisconsin is working,”   RGA chairman and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell  said in a statement.

“Within the past year, Wisconsin paid off nearly $1 billion in debt, and Gov. Walker’s reforms helped close a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes and improved the state’s business climate. Thanks to Gov. Walker’s leadership, the future prospects of Wisconsin’s taxpayers, families and job-creating business owners are brighter than ever.”

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