MADISON - The recall elections for state senators here this summer may end up looking like small potatoes when compared to the massive campaign labor and its allies are now mounting to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker some time next spring.
Yesterday, United Wisconsin announced it would begin collecting signatures Nov. 15 to enable a recall election of the governor. The citizens coalition, which is made up of grassroots organizations from all over the state, is saying it is confident it will reach its goal of 700,000 signatures, about 160,000 more than the 540,206 needed to require a recall election.
Under state law, the collectors will have 60 days to gather the signatures they need.
"Governor Walker and his accomplices continue to destroy our state and serve special interests," said United Wisconsin Co-Chairman Ryan Lawler at a press conference Tuesday. "In contrast, United Wisconsin proudly serves the people of Wisconsin, and will lead an effort to recall Gov. Walker."
United Wisconsin is bringing together the efforts of grassroots groups, unions, public and private organizations, political action committees and community leaders.
Even though signature gathering doesn't begin for a month, the group already has more than 200,000 online pledges to recall Walker.
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO has announced its endorsement of the effort and has urged its members to become fully involved. The labor federation says the need to restore democracy in Wisconsin is too critical to wait until the next regularly scheduled election. A successful recall campaign would result in a special election next April.
Walker led the effort to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
"Scott Walker lied to the people of Wisconsin," said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. "Not once did he campaign on stripping public workers of their right to collectively bargain or on the extreme direction he has taken Wisconsin. Instead of working to create jobs, Gov. Walker has worked for the benefit of big corporations and Wall Street.
Neuenfeldt charges that the governor "is attacking the rights of working people and the middle class in order to advance his corporate agenda and pay back his wealthy friends. We can't afford to put the super rich above Wisconsin's middle class. The people have spoken and a Scott Walker recall will move forward."
The recall effort is attracting support from groups broader than just those angry about the attack on collective bargaining rights. Recall organizers note that Walker's policies amount to a sustained attack also on education, health care, the environment and job security.
Republicans say they will be able to raise $70 million for Walker to defend his governorship and Stephan Thompson, the party's executive director, said he "welcomed" the challenge from United Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin school districts and local municipalities have saved millions of taxpayer dollars, thanks to the governor," he said.