Democrats and liberal activists officially launched a campaign Tuesday to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an effort rooted in the Republican's successful effort to pass legislation stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights.
And wasting no time ahead of what may be a lengthy and expensive campaign, Walker is already responding with a new television ad (see video below) defending his record after less than a year in office.
The main effort to recall Walker is sponsored by a group called United Wisconsin, which filed paperwork with the state's Government Accountability Board so it can begin gathering the necessary petition signatures.
"Walker has lied to the people of Wisconsin and is destroying our state," wrote Julie Wells, an employee at a manufacturing plant in Fort Atkinson who submitted the document. "Walker has taken away the rights of workers, is destroying our education system, and is selling our state to the big corporations that put him in office."
The committee has until Jan. 17 to submit the 540,208 signatures required to spur the recall election. Elections officials would then have at least a month to review those signatures, and Walker would also have the opportunity to challenge them.
Once a petition is considered valid, an election would be called for six weeks. Democrats would have to put forward a candidate to challenge Walker in that election; if a primary is required, the general election would be held four weeks later.
Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, estimated that the elections could be held as early as May or June.
Walker, elected in 2010, introduced his anti-union law in February of this year, sparking heated protests from Democrats and labor unions. Democratic lawmakers even fled the state in hopes of preventing its passage, but the law took effect in June.
Opponents of the law first initiated recall efforts against Republican state senators who'd backed the legislation. Two of six were successfully recalled, leaving Democrats just shy of regaining a majority in the chamber.
The effort to recall Walker comes one week after Ohio voters rejected a similar law pushed by Republican Gov. John Kasich, a result seen as a victory for the labor movement.
Anticipating today's action, Walker launched a television ad that aired during Monday night's Packers-Vikings football game. It included a school board member who said the new law helped her district put money in the classroom.
"Wisconsin's best days are yet to come. It won't happen overnight. But we are on our way," Walker says in the 30-second spot.
Walker told the Associated Press on Monday that he'd launch more ads soon showing "real people" talking about his initiatives.
Wisconsin Democrats planned a series of events Tuesday to promote the "Recall Walker Kickout Kickoff."
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who chairs the Democratic Governors Assn., would not say Monday how active his group might be in the effort.
"If we have an opportunity to replace a narrow-minded, ideological and ineffective governor with a Democratic governor that gets things done, we'll be in there with both feet," he said.
Any costs for a recall election would incurred by local cities and towns. The 17 separate recall elections held in targeted state Senate districts this year cost an estimated $2.1 million.
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