The governor's supporters have been training volunteers how to vet signatures and they plan to create a database where names will be entered and verified. Walker has already successfully sued the state elections board to require it to do a more extensive review of the signatures than originally planned in order to catch duplicates and obviously fake names like Mickey Mouse.
The Government Accountability Board has said its review will take 60 days or more and it will go to court as soon as this week to seek more than the 31 days allowed under the law. Board director Kevin Kennedy said it was too early to know how long would be needed or if officials would stop the review once they determined enough were valid to certify an election.
Tate said he didn't expect a Walker recall election would happen before May. Walker has said he thinks it will be in June.
Recalls have become common in Wisconsin since the political tumult of 2011 that saw Walker and Republicans pass the collective bargaining changes, one of the country's most restrictive laws requiring photo identification at the polls, and a budget that included an $800 million cut to public schools.
The opposition started with massive protests and then grew into organized campaigns — first to recall state senators, then Walker himself. Last summer, six Republican state senators and three Democrats faced recall elections. Two Republicans lost, leaving the party with a one-vote majority in the Senate.
A recall against Walker couldn't officially be filed until after he had served a year in office, an anniversary reached earlier this month.
But Walker hasn't been waiting around to see what happens. He has been on the air nonstop, saying that while some of his decisions to balance the budget were difficult, the state is in a better financial position and will prosper in the long run.
The governor has been raising money at a furious clip. He was hosting a $2,500 per-person fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday and recently attended fundraisers in Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee. He is taking full advantage of both the conservative star persona he built as he put Wisconsin at the center of the national labor rights debate and a quirk in state law allowing those targeted for recall to ignore normal contribution limits until an election date is set.
As of mid-December, he had raised $5.1 million, with about half coming from out-of-state donors.
Democrats, who have no candidate raising money to challenge Walker, concede they will not be able to match him dollar for dollar. Instead, they are counting on the same type of energy that drove the protests and the petition drive to translate into the campaign.
Two prominent Democrats, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, have repeatedly said they aren't interested. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker by 6 percentage points, issued a statement praising recall circulators but did not indicate whether he would enter the race.
Besides Davis, the only other successful recall of a governor in the nation's history was North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.