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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is Recalling Walker the Answer?

Governor could face voters' wrath next year

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Wisconsinites outraged by Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights are already trying to determine how best to remove him from office before his four-year term expires in January 2015.

One option is recalling Walker.

But Walker's opponents will have to wait, since elected officials must serve one year before they can be the target of a recall election. The earliest that Walker could be recalled would be January 2012.

But recall supporters could begin collecting signatures to place Walker on a recall ballot before that date, in early November.

Recall supporters would have to collect enough signatures to equal 25% of the previous election's turnout, about 540,000 signatures, said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the state Government Accountability Board (GAB).

Walker would have 10 days in which to challenge those signatures. Recall supporters would have five days to respond, and Walker would have two additional days to weigh in. The GAB would have 31 days to review the petitions—the 17 days in which the two sides contest signatures, plus an extra two weeks—but the agency could petition the court for an extension.

If enough signatures are deemed valid, the GAB would call a special election for governor to be held on the sixth Tuesday after the signatures were certified.

Walker would automatically be a Republican candidate for governor, unless he would resign from office.

The election could be a primary election if another Republican decides to run, or if more than one candidate from another political party—Democratic, Libertarian or Green, for example—also decided to run. All of these candidates would have to file with the GAB and collect signatures to be placed on the ballot.

The winners of the partisan primary would then advance to a general election.

If each party has only one candidate for office, then only one election would be held.

If Walker would lose any of those elections, he would have to give up his office 10 days after the final election.

Kennedy said that the status of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch would have to be researched, since it wasn't certain if she would be recalled along with Walker. Wisconsin's lieutenant governor is elected during a primary election separate from the governor's race, but the two run on the same ticket during the general election. Kennedy said any GAB decision on her status would likely be challenged in court.

Right-Wing Utah Group Attempts to Recall Wisconsin Democrats

Eight Democratic state senators already have been targeted for recall by the American Recall Coalition, based in Salt Lake City. The group listed as its treasurer Dan Baltes, a right-wing Internet radio host who is also the head of the American Patriot Recall Coalition (APRC) and the founder of Americans Against Immigration Amnesty.

On the APRC's website, Baltes explained why his group is organizing recall elections around the country—including one against Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Ariz., who railed against violent tea party groups after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January.

Although Baltes' group is trying to recall Wisconsin Democrats, the statement on APRC's website could easily be read as justification for a recall of Gov. Walker following the revelations in his phone call with a blogger posing as billionaire David Koch. Walker promised "Koch" that he was unwilling to negotiate with Democrats and was trying to trick them into returning to Wisconsin so a vote on his budget repair bill could be held. Walker also told "Koch" that he considered planting insurgents in the crowd of peaceful protesters to make his opponents look bad, and asked "Koch" for "message help" for Republican legislators in swing districts.

The statement on the APRC website reads, "When elected representatives align themselves with special interests and run afoul of their oath of office and/or responsibilities, APRC will initiate recalls against such politicians in the state, city, county or local governments across the United States through use of recall statutes and with the cooperation of local volunteers/organizations. Politicians must learn that the American people will no longer tolerate political tantrums, holding the legislative process hostage or attempting to impose their will through extortion or dereliction of the duties they were elected to perform."

Kennedy said that the group's base in another state wasn't a problem as long as it could find a voter in each of the senators' districts to be the local contact. Apparently, the group has done so and the 60-day window in which they can collect signatures is now open.

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