Democratic Party organizers have announced round two of recall efforts in Wisconsin are slated to begin Nov. 15.
The newest efforts focus on recalling Gov. Scott Walker but will also look to recall state senators. Walker and the targeted senators will be eligible for recall in January 2012, when they have been in office for one year, according to Wisconsin state law.
The renewed recall efforts come just months after a wave of recall elections earlier this year in the Wisconsin State Senate that resulted in a 17-16 Republican majority. Democrats picked up two seats in wins over incumbent Republicans.
Meagan Mahaffey, former executive director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and executive director of the organization heading the recall effort, United Wisconsin, said Wisconsin cannot endure any more of Walker’s policies.
“This is an extraordinary step, but Walker’s continued refusal to listen to the people of Wisconsin requires it,” Mahaffey said. “It was no easy decision, but we arrived at this early date because first and foremost we believed Wisconsin could not wait to recall and replace Scott Walker.”
In order to force a recall election in 2012, recall organizers must gather more than 540,000 signatures, or 25 percent of the vote cast for the office of governor in the last election, according to state law.
Mahaffey said United Wisconsin has already collected over 200,000 pledges from Wisconsin voters to recall Walker, and starting in November the organization will set up offices across Wisconsin, activate thousands of committed volunteers and host events to spread the word of the recall effort.
“The recall elections of the summer demonstrated a huge appetite for recalling Scott Walker,” she said. “Now we have hard proof in the form of polling that shows that Wisconsin is clearly behind the recall of Scott Walker. Our prospects for victory are excellent.”
Janet Boles, professor emerita of political science at Marquette, said recent survey results supported the confident claims of United Wisconsin.
According to the survey sponsored by the state Democratic Party, 51 percent of likely voters support recalling Walker and 52 percent of people disapprove of Walker’s job performance. Of the 52 percent disapproving of Walker’s governorship, 41 percent “strongly disapprove” of the governor. Of the 46 percent who approve of the job he is doing in Madison, 31 percent “strongly approve” of him. The report was commissioned by public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.
“It is clear (based on this survey) that a significant majority in Wisconsin would like to see Scott Walker removed from office,” Boles said. “The recall of a governor is extremely rare, but I believe organizers will be able to get the number of signatures they need to call for an election.”
If the necessary number of signatures to recall Walker are gathered by January, they must be submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which will check the validity of each signature, according to the state Recall of Congressional, County and State Officials manual.
If the number of valid signatures is verified, the Board will issue a certificate of sufficiency allowing for a partisan primary election to be held, if necessary. This will be followed by the recall election for the office of governor. If Walker is still on the Republican ballot after the primary elections, he will run against the Democratic challenger. If he wins the election, he will retain his position as governor. If he loses, he will be recalled.
Ethan Hollenberger, chairman of the Marquette University College Republicans and a senior in the College of Business Administration, said he and the College Republicans stand behind Walker and believe that, should he run in a recall election, he will win based on his bipartisan decisions as governor.
“Governor Walker has made changes that both Democrats and Republicans supported. Tort reform and tax-free health savings accounts were two of the early accomplishments,” Hollenberger said. “His reforms have saved school districts millions by receiving payments toward benefits. Districts have saved millions more by using the open market to buy health insurance plans.”