The Democratic Party of Wisconsin unveiled plans for efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker on its website Monday night, setting Nov. 15 as the date for the long-awaited effort to commence.
“It has become clearer than ever that the people of Wisconsin — the traditions and institutions of our great state — cannot endure any more of Scott Walker’s abuses. To preserve Wisconsin, we must begin the recall of Walker as soon as possible,” said party chairman Mike Tate, on the party’s website.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin responded with a statement from executive director Stephan Thompson: “We welcome and encourage a comparision between the positive results we’re seeing around the state and the failed policies of the past favored by those seeking a recall.“
The Walker recall effort will be led by several grassroots organizations that have formed over the last year in opposition to Walker’s policies, such as United Wisconsin, Defend Wisconsin, Defending Wisconsin, Autonomous Solidarity Organization and We Are Wisconsin. According to its website, the United Wisconsin political action committee already has more than 202,000 people who have signed “pledges” to recall Walker. Those are not the same as official petition signatures.
Public officials in Wisconsin are not eligible for recall until they have served at least one year of their current term in office. Walker was inaugurated on Jan. 3, 2011, meaning recall petitions cannot be filed until Jan. 3, 2012.
Recall offices will be opening beginning Oct. 24. With the effort beginning Nov. 15, all petitions would be due would be Jan. 17, according to the Democratic Party’s recall website.
The number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election for Walker is 540,208, or one-quarter of the 2,160,832 votes cast in that race in the November 2010 general election.
On Monday night, Democratic lawmakers said Walker has brought the recall upon himself with his extreme policies.
“If the governor and Republican legislators were spending this session focusing on putting people back to work, restoring rights and returning to basic Wisconsin values, then we wouldn’t be in this mess,” said state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.
“Scott Walker has divided and polarized our state and taken us far off track. Ideally we would not be talking about recalls; we would be working together. But Walker has taken us down such an extreme path, harmed so many middle-class families and strayed so far from our core values that the people of this state feel they have no choice but to recall him,” Barca said.
Walker has been preparing for the impending recall fight, too. Late last month, the governor began shuffling key members of his staff in preparation for a potentially tough campaign. Keith Gilkes, Walker’s chief of staff, left the administration to take over the governor’s efforts to win a potential recall. Moving his right-hand man into campaign mode was the first official sign that Walker is taking seriously the threat of a recall.
— Reporter George Hesselberg contributed to this report.