The efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch from office officially began on Nov. 15. In the days since, recall supporters have been out in force collecting signatures and raising awareness about the recall campaign all over the state.
Erin Heffernan, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and communications director for the Marquette University College Democrats, said the group has been out on campus trying to gather signatures for the recall petition.
“Many of our members have been circulating petitions everyday in the high traffic areas on campus,” Heffernan said. “We have seen an overwhelmingly positive response from members of the community who are frustrated with the direction this state has been going in the past year.”
After five days, Marquette student volunteers have collected more than 2,000 signatures, and more than 15 volunteers have logged over 45 volunteer shifts on Marquette’s campus, Heffernan said. The number of signatures collected at Marquette makes up about half the total of signatures given on college campuses in Milwaukee County, according to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
The recall petitions must contain 540,208 signatures by Jan. 17 to force a recall election for Walker.
Statewide, over 105,000 signatures were collected in the first four days of the recall campaign, according to Erik Kirkstein, communication coordinator at United Wisconsin, a grassroots coalition organized to facilitate the recall efforts. Kirkstein confirmed that more than 20,000 recall petitions were downloaded from the United Wisconsin website within the first 48 hours of the campaign.
Kirkstein said volunteers have set up drive-thru locations in parking lots, petition signing meetings at house parties and sidewalk signing stations throughout the state. There will also be campaign events throughout the Milwaukee area over the course of the recall, Kirkstein said.
The Marquette College Republicans will also be out on campus in the coming weeks, raising awareness of the consequences of a recall and urging support for Walker. Ethan Hollenberger, a junior in the College of Business Administration and chairman of the College Republicans, said the group is planning to staff information tables after the Thanksgiving break.
The College Republicans will also be hanging posters around Marquette’s campus detailing the facts of the Walker reforms, including changes to public employee benefits. Hollenberger said the recalls could also further endanger the economic situation in Wisconsin.
“This recall round will cost taxpayers over $600,000, and each side will spend will over $100 million,” Hollenberger said. “This is a colossal waste of resources.”
The brewing contention on college campuses as the recall campaign heats up extends to statewide organizations as well.
“Wisconsin residents have seen the lies that Walker has told and want him out of office,” Kirkstein said. “We are hearing tremendous positive feedback from people around the state who are energized and are excited to sign the petition to recall Scott Walker.”
The student campaigns for both parties will continue into early 2012 on college campuses throughout Wisconsin, including Marquette.
“The College Democrats will be continuing our progress in collecting signatures and spreading awareness of the issues at stake in this movement,” Heffernan said. “This is a monumental time in Wisconsin politics, and we find it vitally important that students are staying involved.”
But Hollenberger said he remains skeptical of the enthusiasm in recalling Walker.
“The recall organizers have a large task to collect the signatures. Reports are that they are about 20 percent there (and) those are the hardcore people who have been waiting to sign,” Hollenberger said. “I would expect numbers to drop off. However, I think they will collect the signatures.”