Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will be the first chief executive of an American state to face a recall election because he attacked the rights of working people to have a voice in their workplaces and in the public life of the land.
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on Friday morning certified more than 900,000 signatures on recall petitions to remove the anti-labor governor -- far in excess of the required 540,000. They also certified more than 800,000 signatures to remove his lieutenant governor. And four of Walker's key legislative allies, including the powerful majority leader of the state Senate, will also be forced to face the voters.
The accomplishment of the grassroots campaign to recall and remove Walker and his allies is dramatic. And the confirmation of that accomplishment marked "a historic day in democracy for the state of Wisconsin," according to Wisconsin AFL-CIO president Phil Neuenfeldt.
The accomplishment is, as well, unprecedented.
But there has never been an instance where recall elections could on the same day remove a chief executive and flip control of a legislative chamber from one party to the other.
That's the prospect that Wisconsin faces on an electoral timeline that was formally set Friday morning by the GAB.
"Today's announcement from the Government Accountability Board represents another milestone in the battle to reclaim Wisconsin values. While this news comes as little surprise, it does serve as vindication to those that worked tirelessly throughout the petition campaign -- a campaign that collected over 1.7 million signatures, and stands as the largest recall in United States history," read a message from the United Wisconsin movement, which spearheaded the recall drive.
Unlike in some other states, the Wisconsin recall provision -- as written by the progressive reformers of a century ago -- does not take the form of a referendum on whether officials should continue in office.
Rather, it forces a whole new election, with partisan primaries and a general-election final.
Candidates will begin circulating petitions this weekend to gain ballot positions.
In instances where more than one candidate files for a party nomination, primaries will be held May 8.
The winners of those primaries will face one another in the June 5 general election.
The Wisconsin political field is very much in play. Walker is running for reelection, as is Lieutenant Governor Rebeccas Kleefisch. Democrat challengers have announced in both contests, with former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk gaining substantial labor backing in her run for the party's gubernatorial nod. Secretary of State Doug La Follette, Wisconsin's longest-serving statewide official is also running, as is state Senator Kathleen Vinehout, a rural populist who was one of the 14 Democratic senators who left the state Capitol in order to block action on Walker's anti-labor proposals. And, on Friday afternoon, following the certification of the petitions, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the party's 2010 gubernatorial nominee, entered the Democratic race.
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