Scott Bauer, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — Jubilant opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker launched their effort Tuesday to try to recall him from office, starting a 60-day blitz to gather more than half a million signatures to force an election next year.
The drive to collect an average of 9,000 signatures a day, fueled by anger over Walker's successful push to take away nearly all public worker collective bargaining rights, began with pajama parties and other events after midnight. Daytime activities included rallies, neighborhood canvasses and booths set up around the state Capitol.
There was even a signing event scheduled for Tuesday afternoon outside of Walker's personal home, where his two teenage sons live, in a Milwaukee suburb. Walker bristled at how personal the recall had become.
"You see a total disregard for people's families and others here," Walker said Tuesday on WTMJ-AM in Milwaukee. "I do think that's crossing the line and I think most people in Wisconsin would agree with that, no matter where they're at in the spectrum."
Talk of a recall began almost immediately after Walker released his proposal in February taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public workers and forcing them to pay more for their pensions and benefits.
The measure, which passed in March and took effect this summer, motivated massive protests that grew as large as 100,000 and led all 14 Democratic state senators to flee to Illinois for three weeks in an effort to prevent it from being voted on.
The law took away most public employees' unions power to negotiate anything other than wage increases no greater than inflation. Most police and firefighters were exempted. A similar Ohio law, which did include police and firefighters, was rejected by voters last week. But Wisconsin doesn't allow for a referendum challenging its law to be put on the ballot, so opponents turned to the recall process.
"Let me sign! Let me sign!" said Carla Koykkari of Madison when a circulator knocked on her door Tuesday morning. "You have made my day."
William Jutz of Delavan, Wis., was riding his bike in a Madison neighborhood when he saw a petition circulator and pulled over to sign.
"I made sure to mark it on my calendar so I wouldn't forget," he said.
Frustration and anger at Walker built up for months and could finally come out through the signing of the recall petitions, said Kerrie Louis of Madison, who signed a petition a few blocks from the Capitol.
"No one wants to wait three years," she said. "It couldn't come soon enough."
While chants of "Recall Walker!" were common during the protests, under state law he's not eligible for that until he's logged one year in office in January. The recall petitions can be taken out 60 days earlier, and Democrats chose to start it on Tuesday, 11 days after the earliest they could have begun.
The largest recall drive was designed to oust both Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch from office. But four other recalls efforts also began Tuesday, targeting four incumbent Republican state senators. Three of those were organized by the Democratic Party. Those target Sens. Pam Galloway of Wausau, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Van Wanggaard of Racine.
A fourth recall, against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, was launched by a Fort Atkinson woman.
Each of those need between 19,000 and 23,000 signatures to force an election.
Those efforts come after nine recall votes on state senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — this summer. Two Republicans lost, leaving the GOP with a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate.
While gaining majority control of the Senate would give Democrats the means to block the Republicans' agenda, the biggest target is Walker.
- Defending the Faith: A case for the...
- Abercrombie & Fitch CEO posts statement on...
- Boy Scouts open membership to all boys,...
- Brave woman tried to reason with London...
- One third of millenials regret going to college
- Tornado relief spurs LDS Church, Layton's...
- Stories behind viral Oklahoma tragedy photos...
- Facts about the Boy Scouts of America
- Mitt Romney talks IRS, AP records,... 67
- Defending the Faith: A case for the... 44
- Journalists criticize Obama... 38
- Associated Press CEO calls records... 23
- White House insists Obama was not... 22
- IRS official Lerner invokes Fifth... 22
- Former IRS chief to Congress: Can't say... 21
- More Obama aides knew IRS targeted... 19