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Recall organizers have 1,000,000 signatures to oust Walker

By: Aaron Dimick, WEAU Staff Email
By: Aaron Dimick, WEAU Staff Email

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Organizers behind an effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker have filed more than 1 million petition signatures they collected to force an election.

Recall circulators lined up around a U-Haul truck Tuesday filled with boxes of signatures. They later brought them into the Government Accountability Board office near the Capitol.

Volunteers formed a line leading to the office as others marched inside with the boxes covered in blue tape.

Additional petition signatures were also filed to force recall elections for Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican senators.

The recall efforts began last year in response to Walker's push to end collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he expects voters to stand by him in any recall election and will campaign on his record.

The Republican governor made the statement Tuesday in response to Democrats and others who filed petitions with what they say are more than 1 million signatures calling for his recall in an election that could come later this year.

Walker took office a year ago and quickly angered some in the state with aggressive moves that included effectively ending collective bargaining rights for nearly all public workers.

The governor defended his actions, saying they needed to be taken to help control government spending, balance the budget and hold the line on taxes.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Organizers of an effort to oust Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker say they are submitting 1 million petition signatures, almost double the number needed to force a recall election.

Their effort was spurred by anger over Walker's moves his first year in office, particularly his fight against public sector unions.

The Wisconsin elections board now must verify that there are enough valid signatures, a process expected to take months. An election may not happen until June or later.

Organizers also turned in on Tuesday about 305,000 more signatures than needed to force a recall election of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

Separate efforts to recall the Republican leader in the state Senate and three other GOP senators also are turning in more than enough signatures to require elections

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By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Supporters of an unprecedented effort to oust Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office said they will turn in more than enough signatures Tuesday to force the Republican into a recall election barely a year into his first term.

Walker, however, has no plans to be anywhere near the Capitol when recall organizers turn in the signatures by Tuesday's deadline. The governor is scheduled to be in New York when organizers say they will be unloading the stacks of petitions, weighing a ton, from a truck and hauling them into the state election board's offices.

The signature drive started two months ago, largely in reaction to a law pushed by the governor last year that ended nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public workers. Organizers say they have gathered far more than the 540,208 signatures required to force the election against both Walker and GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish. If so, it would mark the first time such a recall campaign has been mounted against a Wisconsin governor.

Organizers say they also will turn in enough signatures targeting the Wisconsin Senate majority leader and three other GOP senators.

Once the recall petitions are in, the Government Accountability Board must certify that organizers have gathered enough signatures.

Walker, meanwhile, has been aggressively raising money and blanketing the airwaves with campaign ads, starting the night before recall petitions hit the streets in mid-November. He's also crisscrossed the country raising millions of dollars, taking full advantage of both the conservative rock star persona built as he put Wisconsin at the center of the national labor rights debate and a quirk in state law allowing those targeted for recall to ignore normal contribution limits until an election date is set.

There have been just two successful gubernatorial recalls in the nation's history -- against California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.

But recalls have become common in Wisconsin since the political tumult of 2011 that saw Walker and Republicans pass a law effectively ending collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The opposition started with massive protests and then grew into organized campaigns first to recall state senators and then Walker himself.

Last summer, six Republican state senators and three Democrats faced recall elections. Two Republicans lost, leaving the party with a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate.

The Walker recall couldn't officially be filed until after he had served a year in office, an anniversary that was hit earlier this month. The four senators targeted this year include Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who served as a staunch defender of Walker's agenda and critic of 14 Senate Democrats who fled the state in an unsuccessful attempt to block the union bill. The three other Republican lawmakers targeted are all midway through their first terms.

On Tuesday, petitioners said more than enough signatures are being submitted to force a recall election against Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.

Organizers said that they are turning in 20,600 signatures on Tuesday. At least 16,742 must be valid in order for there to be an election.

Walker argues that while some of the decisions he made last year to balance a $3.6 billion state budget shortfall were difficult, the state is in a better financial position and will prosper in the long run. The state Republican Party has hit on the same theme, portraying Walker as a "do something" governor. "It's not always popular," the mailing says, "but it's working."

Walker reported in mid-December that he'd already raised $5.1 million, with about half of that coming from out of state. He received $250,000 alone from Bob Perry, the Texas conservative who was one of the main financial backers behind the Swift Boat Veterans ads that attacked Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Democrats don't know who will challenge Walker. Party and union leaders say they're not concerned about not having someone actively running against Walker and trying to match his fundraising. In fact, they say it was part of their strategy.

"It forced Walker and his minions to run on their record and issues rather than to run against an announced Democratic candidate," said Marty Beil, president of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, the largest union of state workers. "That was part of the rationale through the whole recall petition collection process."

Walker's campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement that the governor's record will "stand in stark contrast to whoever the eventual Democratic nominee is."

Numerous prominent Democrats have said they're considering a run, but the two highest profile ones -- former Sen. Russ Feingold and retiring Sen. Herb Kohl -- have repeatedly said they aren't interested.

Moderate Democrat state Sen. Tim Cullen has said he intends to take on Walker but has not made a formal announcement or been actively campaigning. He said he expects and welcomes a Democratic primary, which likely would be held in May, although the timing will be unclear until possible delays related to the signature verification process and any legal challenges are resolved.

"If there's not a primary, then who's actually deciding this?" Cullen said.

Walker and his allies say organized labor will decide the Democratic candidate. Public workers and their unions have been a driving force behind the recall, helping provide the manpower needed to circulate petitions.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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STORY FROM 1/16/12
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Two months of knocking on doors and standing out in the harsh winter weather and it has all come down to this.

Democrats are gearing up to submit hundreds of thousands of signatures to the state of Wisconsin, hoping to launch an election to recall Governor Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Democrats say they’ve collected more than the 540,000 signatures required to recall Walker.

After Democrats hand over the signatures to the Government Accountability Board on Tuesday, it could take up to two months to certify them all.

But the Republicans are saying “not so fast” and that several lawsuits are waiting to be filed.

“What we're hearing from the party is not only have we met the threshold, we've reached the safety goal which is challenge proof,” said Kristen Dexter, the Chair of the Eau Claire County Democratic Party.

Since launching November 15, 2011, Dexter said volunteers across Wisconsin have reached the safety goal, which is believed to be at 720,000 signatures.

If you’ve signed a recall Walker petition in the Chippewa Valley, Dexter said it’s already made its way to Madison.

“We’ve been sending them as we get them so that the counting can be a continuous process so they're not counting hundreds of boxes of petitions,” Dexter said.

After they’re handed over Tuesday afternoon, Dexter said the GAB has requested 60 days to certify each and every “John Hancock”.

She said she’s proud of the thousands of volunteers in the Chippewa Valley who knocked on doors and stood on the street over the past two months to collect signatures.

“It was really run well and efficient and process that was full of integrity. It was grassroots at its finest,” Dexter said.

But Brian Westrate of the Eau Claire County Republican Party said he was surprised to see how volatile things got during the petition process.

“It’s just sheer nastiness that appears to exist; certainly there is some on both sides. Go back to having civil conversations about policies and procedures instead of flipping off the governor while he's outside shoveling his sidewalk,” Westrate said.

“There were occasional stories of bad behavior but I'd have to say that was a very small number,” Dexter said.

Under fire since he took office a year ago, Westrate said the republican governor has handled the criticism gracefully.

“Governor Walker has said from the beginning, this is a constitutional right of the people, and that he's looked forward to proving to the state he can earn their votes and continue on in his job as governor,” Westrate said.

Dexter said while it’s too early to know who will run against Walker, there will be a democratic primary.

“I anticipate a primary at this point. There's going to be people vying for the governorship,” Dexter said.

Democrats will also hand over signatures to recall republican State Senator Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls.

Recall organizers said Tuesday they are submitting more than 21,000 signatures. They said they're still counting.

Organizers need at least 14,958 valid signatures. They said their current count represents 140 percent of the signatures required to force a recall election.

And although it isn’t official, Dexter told WEAU 13 News that she’s considering running against Moulton if a recall election happens.


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