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Wisconsinites v. Governor Scott Walker

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He and others said multiple state lawmakers were recalled only four previous times for the same issue. University of Iowa Professor Caroline Tolbert called recall "an extreme measure (under) extreme circumstances." UC San Diego Professor Thad Kousser said Wisconsin was in unchartered territory. 

In state history, only two lawmakers were recalled. Attempting to remove a governor is unprecedented. Only two previous times it succeeded nationwide - in 2003 in California ousting Gray Davis for Arnold Schwarzenegger and 1921 in North Dakota.

Wisconsin law requires signatures from 25% of voters in the most recent gubernatorial race in districts of targeted legislators. In addition, recalls aren't allowed until after one year in office. On January 4, Walker became eligible. In his case, over 540,000 statewide signatures were needed.

Last July and August, recalls were held. Democrats lost four of six races. Republicans retained legislative control. Good efforts went for naught. Despite turn-out-the-vote campaigns, only 43% of eligible voters participated.

Moreover, union bosses allied with Democrats who made no secret about supporting draconian wage and benefit cuts. In other words, both parties and union officials sided with corporate interests and their own. As a result, rank and file workers lost out. Even so, their struggle continues.

On January 5, Walker told a Washington, DC right-wing American Enterprise Institute audience that he expects a June recall election. He was in town for a fund raiser, anticipating what's coming.

It's Official

On January 17, United Wisconsin (UW) broke the news. Its UW to Recall Walker site headlined, "Over One Million," saying:

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Over a million Wisconsinites signed petitions to recall Walker. The achievement represents "the most-participated-in major recall effort in American history, and a number so significant" it's beyond legal challenge. UW board member Ryan Lawler said:

"The collection of more than one million signatures represents a crystal clear indication of how strong the appetite is to stop the damage and turmoil that Scott Walker has caused Wisconsin."

On January 17, they were filed along with another 845,000 signatures to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefish, Walker's running mate. In addition, petitions were also submitted against four Republican state senators, including leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Of course, Democrats aren't blameless anymore than in Washington, and that's the real hurdle to overcome. Nonetheless, over 30,000 state volunteers canvassed street corners, shopping malls, places of worship, dinner tables and sidewalks "to take their state back."

One million signatures represents about 30% of eligible voters and nearly Walker's 2010 total (1.12 million).

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The state Government Accountability Board has 31 days to certify requirements were met. If so, a late spring election will follow, including a primary to select Walker's Democrat opponent. So far, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's favored. Walker defeated him in 2010. After signatures were filed, he said:

"I stand with the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Wisconsin citizens who have had enough of Walker's cynical politics that try to divide the people of our state. It's time for a new direction that will heal our fractured state and move Wisconsin forward again."

He stopped short of saying how. In fact, as Milwaukee mayor, he instituted his own anti-worker measures. If elected governor, expect no reversals statewide. According to Marty Beil, executive director of Wisconsin AFSCME, Barrett's "an unacceptable candidate. From our perspective, (he's) been doing the bidding of Walker."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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