Writing in The Nation, John Nichols reports that, less than a week out, the movement to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is broad, deep and growing. According to Nichols, the recall drive has collected over 105K signatures of the needed 540 thousand signatures in its first four days, with about 2 months left to gather the remaining signatures.
It was not just that thousands were signing recall petitions on the Capitol Square in Madison…They were doing it in all seventy-two Wisconsin counties…The movement to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is just that: a movement. It extends across the state, to every county, to every city, village and town.
As the November 15 starting date when the movement would begin gathering petitions to recall Walker and Kleefisch approached, training sessions for petition circulators were being held in the most Republican counties of the state. More than thirty offices opened and were staffed by volunteers in communities such as Elkhorn in traditionally conservative Walworth County, where a “midnight madness” party was held last Tuesday so that petitions could be signed the minute it was possible to do so…
The political process is sick with spin and deception. But the biggest lie of the past year has been the suggestion, peddled primarily by Walker but also by the most disingenuous of his supporters, that anger with the governor has been confined to the liberal precincts of Madison or the Democratic neighborhoods of Milwaukee.
The truth is that with his assault on collective bargaining rights, the civil service system, local democracy, school funding and public services, Walker battered every town, village, city and county in Wisconsin. And with ethical scandals that are now swirling around him–following the September FBI raid on the home of his top political appointee and the revelation that his press secretary and one of his top fund raisers had requested immunity in a “John Doe” probe of political corruption–Walker has earned the scorn even of those Wisconsinites who will never think of themselves as liberals or Democrats.
The movement to displace Walker and Kleefisch, who had served as a willing rubber-stamp for the governor, is big. The grassroots energy across the state, the size of the crowd at Saturday’s rally, the number of signatures already collected: all of these confirm the historic scope and reach of the recall drive.
The movement to displace Walker and Kleefisch is broad-based. Trainings have taken place in every corner of the state. There are local committees, groups and activist circles in all of Wisconsin’s seventy-two counties. The recall movement takes in Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, independents and, yes, Republicans. That’s because Wisconsin’s instinct for fairness is stronger than the penchant for partisanship, as state Senator Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, confirmed when he refused to go along with efforts by Walker’s legislative stooges to rig the recall process.
…From Kenosha in the southeast to Superior in the northwest, from the inner-city wards of Milwaukee to the crossroads towns of Marathon County, Wisconsinites are rising to the call of democracy and honest governance. They are signing petitions, circulating petitions, filing petitions and defending petitions against bogus challenges from lawyers who are paid for by the out-of-state billionaires who are funding the Walker-Kleefisch campaign. And when the petitioning is done, when the recall election is scheduled, they will mount the greatest grassroots campaign Wisconsin has seen in a century–not just to remove Walker and Kleefisch but to renew the democratic ideals of a great state that has been temporarily misled.
According to Nichols, “a multimillion-dollar effort paid for by the billionaire Koch brothers and other anti-labor zealots from across the country who have financed Walker’s campaigns” is trying to defeat the recall. He cites reports of incidents of intimidation, and one estimate that pro-Walker forces may spend at least $50 million.
But don’t expect the recall movement to be intimidated. As Nichols says, “Rooted as it is in the values and ideals of Wisconsin, the recall movement is genuine and determined. It has put pettiness aside and focused on the work at hand: removing a governor who has harmed the state economically, ethically and morally–and a lieutenant governor who has rejected her oath to defend the constitution and the best interests of Wisconsin.