Recall Organizers Set Their Sights on Gov. Scott Walker
United Wisconsin will begin collecting signatures Nov. 15 in effort to force a recall election of the governor.
The state Senate recall elections that captured the attention of the state and country earlier this year might have just been preludes to the main event.
On Tuesday, United Wisconsin announced it would begin collecting signatures Nov. 15 to force a recall election of Gov. Scott Walker. The group, which is collaborating with grassroots organizations throughout the state, is confident it will reach its goal of 700,000 signatures — roughly 160,000 more than the 540,206 needed to force a recall election.
Once the calendar hits Nov. 15, the group will have 60 days to collect the needed signatures, according to state law.
“Governor Walker and his accomplices continue to destroy our state and serve special interests,” said United Wisconsin Co-Chairman Ryan Lawler during a press conference Tuesday. “In contrast, United Wisconsin proudly serves the people of Wisconsin, and will lead the effort to recall Governor Walker.”
Lawler said United Wisconsin is combining the collective efforts of grassroots groups, unions, public and private organizations, political action committees and community leaders to execute their strategy to recall Walker.
What that strategy is, and whom the group is working with directly, is a little less clear. United Wisconsin Chairman Kevin Straka said the organization is volunteer-based, but it has two full-time employees in a Milwaukee regional office. When asked to name four other organizations the group is tied to, Straka named just one: Wisconsin Recall Taskforce.
“We will serve the people and other groups and organizations committed to recalling Governor Walker by unifying these collective efforts,” Lawler said.
The effort to recall Walker comes after he proposed several measures that drew fierce opposition around the state and throughout the country — most notably a budget-repair bill that removed collective bargaining rights from most public employees.
But the effort to recall Walker goes beyond that bill, which is now law. Recall organizers claim most of Walker's policies have been attacks on education, health care, the environment and job security.
Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, went on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" Monday night to announce that efforts to gather signatures would officially begin on Nov. 15. After making that announcement, the party said it has raised about $82,000 from 2,933 donors.
“We believe we can do this, and we believe it is too important to wait," Tate said on the show. “There are people in every corner of this state that are excited, ready and mobilized. Groups like United Wisconsin and many others have been working these grassroots.”
Tate said recall organizers need to be ready for a big fight, and estimated Walker would be able to raise about $70 million to defend his governorship.
Stephan Thompson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, welcomed the challenge from United Wisconsin to recall Walker.
“Wisconsin school districts and local municipalities have saved millions of taxpayer dollars thanks to the governor's reforms,” Thompson said. “We welcome and encourage a comparison between the positive results we're seeing around the state and the failed policies of the past favored by those seeking a recall."
United Wisconsin was created with the sole purpose of recalling Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Lawler said it is not affiliated with any of the recall efforts that launched in spring, when nine state senators were targeted for a recall.
According to its website, United Wisconsin has already collected more than 200,000 pledges to recall Walker.