If You Can't Beat 'em, Recall' Em: Gov. Scott Walker, Bipartisan Lawmakers Targeted

Gov. Scott Walker, Democratic and Republican lawmakers face recall efforts.

March 8, 2011, 12:11 PM

CHICAGO, March 8, 2011 -- Former Democratic congressman David Obey has launched a push to recall the state's union-busting Gov. Scott Walker.

Obey, considered to be Wisconsin's liberal lion, may be too eager. The Republican governor has been in office for only eight weeks and state law requires that elected officials be in office for at least a year before being eligible for a recall.

Obey claims that despite the law, Walker should be recalled because his attempt to dismantle union protections for state workers is "abusive."

Walker's office fired back today saying that Obey's complaint and that of his fellow Democrats is "without merit."

"It's sad that Democrats are obsessed with playing politics rather than helping Governor Walker and the legislature create an environment that will help the private sector create 250,000 new jobs over the next four years," Walker's press secretary Cullen Werwie said in a statement to ABC News.

Walker isn't the only Wisconsin official targeted for recall. In fact, Wisconsin is in the throes of recall mania.

Sixteen Wisconsin state senators — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — are the early targets of recall efforts, an unprecedented number in American politics.

The eight Democrats are among the 14 Democrats who fled the state to prevent a vote that would strip unions of their negotiating rights, but have been in office for at least a year.

The eight Republicans were targeted for recall because they support Walker's anti-union bill.

In 1921, recall elections forced North Dakota governor Lynn Frasier and two other statewide officials from office. In recent years, no more than two legislators have been recalled in any one year. The last governor to be recalled was California Democrat Gray Davis in 2003.

The hurdles for recall are high in Wisconsin. Recall organizers have only 60 days to collect thousands of signatures. Under Wisconsin law, the signatures must total 25 percent of all those who voted for governor in each Senate district.

Money and volunteers are coming in from outside the state, and emotions are running high. Monday night, a Republican state senator in suburban Milwaukee was shouted down as she tried to defend Walker's efforts to weaken state employee unions. Video of the the disrupted town meeting was quickly posted on the Internet.

Some Republicans targeted for recall appear particularly vulnerable. State Senator Randy Hopper, for example, won his last election by just 184 votes.

Republicans insist some Democrats may be ripe targets, too, and it's unclear how such recalls will impact the overall makeup of the state legislature.

Wisconsin Recall Mania

Meanwhile, the skirmishes in Wisconsin's budget battle continue. Republican Senate leaders said $100 a day fines would begin today to be levied against 14 Democrats who have left the state to prevent the anti-union vote.

Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Walker over statements he made during his famous phone conversation with a prankster pretending to be conservative billionaire David Koch. In their complaint, Democrats say Walker violated campaign laws by apparently asking for Koch's support. A spokesman for Walker dismissed the allegations as "baseless."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events