Wisconsin Recall Effort Quiets Legislature, Energizes Voters

By: - January 17, 2012 12:00 am

The long-anticipated recall campaign against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is expected to take a major step forward Tuesday (January 17), when his opponents have promised to deliver more than 700,000 signatures supporting a do-over election this year.

Walker, a Republican barely into his second year as governor, became the target of Democrats and labor, both nationally and locally, when he championed legislation last year that stripped public employee unions of much of their bargaining power. The move was so controversial initially that thousands of protesters ringed the state Capitol for weeks and — even briefly occupied the building — while Democratic lawmakers fled to Illinois in a futile attempt to stop the bill.

Since then, though, the state has been embroiled in campaign after campaign that amounted to proxy fights over Walker’s agenda. The governor and his party, while suffering some losses, held on to control of the state Senate and a Supreme Court seat.

But this year, Wisconsin voters will finally get to have their say on the governor. The date of that election is still up in the air. It could take more than two months for elections workers to review the petitions, and other groups can review the signatures as well, notes the Wisconsin State Journal. After that, a Democratic primary may be held to determine which opponent Walker faces in the election. (In Wisconsin, recall elections are contested races, not up-or-down votes.) 

On top of that, four state senators also face potential recall races. All that activity means the legislative agenda for Republicans, who passed many of their top priorities in 2011, will be pretty slim this year. “When a legislator is under recall and looking down the barrel of a recall election they’re going to be more sensitive,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told The Associated Press .

Walker, meanwhile, told The New York Times that his first year in office had been “very surreal.” He blamed the turmoil not on his agenda but on outside groups. “I never realized,” Walker told the Times, “how much national money and attention would come in on this particular issue.” 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.