Wisconsin Democrats have announced the date at which they will begin attempting to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose anti-public employee union legislation polarized the state and made it a center of national attention and activism: The petitions will begin being gathered November 15.
State chairman Mike Tate will go on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC Monday night, and formally roll out the date. But first, Tate sent out a message to supporters with a fundraising request: “In fewer than 37 days, we will need to organize, train and fund an army of grassroots volunteers who will need to collect more than 540,206 valid recall signatures. Before I go on the air, can I count on you to make a donation of $11.15 towards our goal of raising $540,206 by Nov. 15th?”
Wisconsin’s recall law requires that officials have held office for at least one year before being recalled. Since Walker was just elected in 2010, that means the petitions cannot be turned in until early January 2012. In addition, the Dems will have a lot of leg-work to do, if they hope to recall him.
In order to initiate a recall, signatures of at least 25 percent of the number of voters in the previous gubernatorial election must be collected in a 60-day window, within a relevant district (statewide, in this case). Calculated from the 2010 election results, this means the Dems will need to collect 540,206 signatures — more than 9,000 signatures a day, statewide — plus some significant buffer that campaigns routinely collect in order to protect against signatures being disqualified over one imperfection or another.
The state has achieved national fame (or infamy) this year for Walker’s legislation stripping public employee unions of most collective bargaining rights, the waves of protests that filled the state Capitol and other locations, and the tens of millions of dollars that were spent on this past Summer’s recall campaigns.
Wisconsin Democrats, faced with a 19-14 Republican majority in the state Senate, attempted to mount a backlash against Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation, by recalling their way to a majority. However, they were also hampered by the fact that the only recall-eligible districts were ones where the incumbent had won their terms in 2008, even during that year’s Democratic wave.
In the end, Democrats were only able to pick up two seats, for a narrow 17-16 Republican majority. Out of the recall campaigns that were waged by both parties, four incumbent Republicans and three Democrats retained their seats, while two Republicans lost to Democratic challengers. However, the Dems still kept the door wide open to trying to recall Walker, and polling data has shown the state closely divided on Walker’s approval and whether to recall him.
Under Wisconsin’s recall law, elected officials must have served at least one year of their current term before being recalled — thus exempting the half of the Senate that was just elected in 2010. With half of the state Senate up for election every two years, this meant that only those senators who were last elected in 2008 could be targeted for recalls. Both parties waged signature campaigns in all 16 eligible districts, targeting eight Republicans and eight Democrats, with the final result being that six Republicans and three Democrats had recalls triggered against them.