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Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011

Scott Walker Recall Efforts to Launch Nov. 15

Survey shows majority of Wisconsinites want governor out of office next year

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The clock is ticking on Gov. Scott Walker's first term in office.

The grassroots group United Wisconsin announced on Tuesday that it will begin circulating petitions to recall Walker on Nov. 15.

The group needs 540,206 signatures within 60 days to put Walker on a recall ballot next year. For more information, visit www.unitedwisconsin.com.

The effort is buoyed by a survey sponsored by the state Democratic Party and commissioned by the respected public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates showing that 52% of people disapprove of Walker's job performance. Furthermore, 51% of likely voters support recalling Walker, with only 42% in favor of keeping him in office.

The intensity of the opposition to Walker is especially striking.

Of the 52% who disapprove of Walker's job performance, 41% "strongly disapprove" of the first-term Republican governor. That's in contrast to the 46% who approve of the job he's doing in Madison, with 31% "strongly" approving of him.

Walker is having an especially difficult time persuading independents, moderates and women to support him. The survey, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates in mid-September, found that independents favor recalling Walker by 16 points, moderates by 23 points, and women by 20 points.

Walker has also wiped out the enthusiasm gap that plagued Democratic candidates in 2010.

According to the poll, likely 2012 voters who did not vote in 2010 support the recall 57% to 26%.

Overall, the pollsters found that "there is little question that a recall campaign against Scott Walker has an excellent chance for success."

Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said that the intensity of the opposition to Walker in all parts of the state, in key demographics, was shocking.

"From Ashland to Racine, from Prairie du Chien to Crivitz, there's an appetite for this," Zielinski said.

He said that collecting enough signatures to force a Walker recall was entirely possible, since activists gathered more than 180,000 signatures to recall six Republican senators this summer.

"That was without coming near our base of power," Zielinski said. "These were in red districts."

John Doe Investigation Continues

Especially worrisome for Walker is how the electorate views his priorities as governor. Strong majorities said that Walker was too close to corporate interests and is mainly interested in grabbing political power. In contrast, Democrats were seen as being willing to improve public education and fight for the middle class, as well as being interested in "people like me," respondents said.

Democrats were even seen as doing more to create jobs—Walker's signature issue as governor.

Not included in the survey but an issue that could have a devastating effect on Walker is voters' views of the ongoing John Doe investigation that is said to be looking into potential campaign violations while Walker was running for governor.

Last month, the FBI raided the Madison home of Cindy Archer, an aide to Walker at the county level who became a high-ranking official in the state Department of Administration when Walker became governor. Archer resigned from that position to work at the state Department of Children and Families, although she is currently on medical leave.

Cullen Werwie, Walker's spokesman, Rose Ann Dieck, a Republican fund-raiser, and those connected to Wisconsin & Southern Railroad have been granted immunity in connection with this investigation.

The railroad company's president and CEO, William Gardner, was charged with two felonies for funneling more than $60,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Walker's campaign. According to investigators, Gardner asked employees to contribute to Walker's campaign and then had the company reimburse those employees for their donations.

Gardner pleaded guilty to two felonies and the company paid a civil forfeiture of $166,900—the largest campaign-related fine in Wisconsin history.

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