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Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Recall Walker: Game On

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The most important year in Wisconsin's modern political history is about to begin.

Petitions to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker will begin circulating Nov. 15, the earliest date legally possible, showing how eager many people in Wisconsin are to end Walker's wholesale destruction of the state's progressive political traditions.

Walker and state Republicans can be expected to continue employing every underhanded trick possible to try to prevent citizens from going to the polls to stop Walker's destruction of public education, attack on worker rights and disenfranchisement of voters.

Unlike Republicans running phony candidates in Democratic state Senate recall elections this summer, any legal—and quite possibly illegal—tactics Walker's supporters use to delay his day of reckoning could very well work against Walker.

In fact, many feel the best possible scenario would be for Republicans to spend months exhausting every conceivable legal dodge to put off the vote so the actual recall election coincides with the re-election of President Barack Obama next November.

From a purely democratic (small "d") point of view, the presidential election would be the best possible expression of the will of voters statewide toward the destructive policies of Walker and the Republicans.

Lower turnout elections are more easily hijacked by small but passionate groups of extremists like, let's say, the tea party in 2010 that voted Walker into office and gave Republicans control of both houses of the state Legislature.

There was strong sentiment within the recall movement not to start circulating petitions against Walker right away in November, specifically because the recall vote might take place too quickly.

If the Walker recall were to get scheduled as soon as legally possible, it could coincide with the Republican presidential primary in April, an election in which Republicans should be far more motivated to vote than Democrats.

But that might not be as much of a given as it seems. At the moment, the Republican field of presidential candidates appears to range from the mind-numbing to the ridiculous. The only really interesting ones are the nuttiest.

At any rate, 30 other states will be voting ahead of Wisconsin on that motley gaggle of candidates. The powerful Wisconsin presidential primary of old, with real potential presidents holding major rallies, is no more.

And it was never very realistic to think a recall election could ever take place that quickly anyway.

When "Recall Walker" petitions begin circulating Nov. 15, the recall movement will have 60 days to gather at least 540,208 signatures. Recall organizers are planning to gather closer to 700,000 signatures to weather any challenges.

Recall petitions would have to be turned in to the state Government Accountability Board (GAB) by Jan. 17, 2012. Under state law, the GAB then has 31 days to review the signatures and confirm their validity.

That is, of course, a ridiculous timetable for the limited GAB staff to examine more than half a million signatures. Last summer, the agency went to court to get an extension to review far fewer signatures in the state Senate recall elections.

Validating signatures gathered statewide for the recall of the governor easily could take much longer. Then, assuming enough signatures are accepted to schedule a recall, Republicans can be counted on to file every imaginable legal challenge and even a few unimaginable ones.



All About the Money

What if Republicans were smarter than that? What if they realized a quick recall vote might work in their favor by giving Democrats and other opponents less time to coalesce around a strong candidate and organize the get-out-the-vote effort against Walker?

That's not going to happen. And not just because Republicans around Walker aren't very smart.

The primary motivation of Republicans is exactly what it has always been: money in really big bags.

Under state law, when the recall effort against Walker officially begins with the registration of a group circulating petitions, Walker can start raising unlimited funds.

That means the longer Walker can delay his recall, the more millions he can rake in from the wealthy individuals and corporations who have made out like bandits with Walker's budget that has thrown working-class Wisconsinites out of work and slashed state funding to every school district, county, city, town and village.

That will push the recall vote closer and closer to the November presidential election. And guess what the biggest issue in the November election is going to be? The economic interests of the wealthy versus the interests of ordinary, working-class Americans.

A re-energized President Obama already is calling out Republicans for voting against job creation for millions out of work and against requiring billionaires and millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes.

By drawing the lines between the wealthy and the working class so clearly in Wisconsin, Walker has provided another powerful argument for his recall.