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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Walker Recall Campaign Ready to Launch

Andy Kroll has a good update at Mother Jones, “It’s Recall Time for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,” surveying the prospects for getting rid of the Badger State’s union-basher in-chief. As the recall effort kicks off, Kroll sets the scene:

That fight begins at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday with the launch of the official Walker recall campaign. Organizers have 60 days to collect at least 540,208 signatures to trigger a recall election for Walker. (Another 540,208 additional signatures are needed to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.) The grassroots groups spearheading the recall effort under the “United Wisconsin” banner say they hope to collect as many as 700,000 or 800,000 signatures by mid-January. That’s roughly 12,000 or 13,000 a day. If they do, it will set up a bruising, cash-flooded, two-month recall campaign next spring, and an actual election between early April and early June, depending on legal challenges and potential primary races on either the Democratic or Republican side.

Despite the euphoric hopes of recall leaders in the aftermath of the Ohio victory over union-bashing legislation, it’s harder to mobilize support for recalling an elected official. It’s the difference between asking voters to take a stand against legislation they don’t like, though it was enacted by someone they may have voted for on the one hand, and asking a lot of voters to repudiate their earlier votes for a candidate. Also, the Democrats have to run a good unity candidate against Walker in the recall election. Fortunately, there are several strong possible candidates, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, former Rep. Richard Obey, outgoing U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and Mahlon Mitchell, president of the firefighter’s union and protest spokesman.
The Ohio vote awakened many voters to the dangers of union-busting politicians, and Walker has been a particularly nasty opponent of unions. Moreover, even if the recall effort fails, it won’t be by much, and that will send a message to political leaders to avoid getting branded as union-bashing errand boy for the Koch brothers.
The recall campaign has some other cards to play, as Kroll notes:

…Walker’s full budget, passed in June, closed a two-year shortfall of $3 billion by slashing almost $800 million from public schools, trimming tax credits for the poor, rewriting state pension law while cutting investment and corporate taxes. He passed a controversial voter ID bill that critics say disenfranchises students and seniors, and signed two GOP-friendly redistricting bills. Also looming large is a John Doe investigation into possible campaigning by employees for Milwaukee County while on the clock when Walker was the county executive. (Eleven people have been granted immunity in the probe.) In September, the investigation captured national headlines when the home of a close Walker aide, Cynthia Archer, was raided by FBI agents.

As for the latest polling figures, Kroll cites surveys by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI):

PPP’s and WPRI’s surveys detected a similar split on recalling Walker–48 percent of respondents favored it and 49 percent opposed in PPP’s poll, while WPRI reported a 47-49 split. But Maslin, who worked as former California Gov. Gray Davis’ pollster during his own recall election (which he led to his replacement by Arnold Schwarzenegger), dismissed these findings as the work of “fly-by-night cheap pollsters.” He repeated his belief that Walker is vulnerable, and said that his experience in California convinced him that Walker has only a five- or six-week window to win over angry voters before their attitudes are frozen in place as the recall effort ramps up.

Owing to a quirk in Wisconsin election law, however, Gov. Walker can accept unlimited donations until the recall election date is set in stone. The Koch brothers and anti-union corporate leaders will likely load up Walker’s coffers during the next 60 days. ActBlue has a donation page for contributors to the recall effort right here.

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