With over a million signatures submitted to the state election board yesterday, the effort to remove Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is already the biggest recall effort in American history.
Wisconsinites frustrated with Scott Walker’s attacks on working families and his failure to address the state’s jobs crisis had 60 days to collect over 540,000 signatures. In the end, they exceeded both that number, as well as their expressed goal of 720,000.
Wisconsin law required signatures from 25 percent of the 2010 gubernatorial voters. As Mother Jones writes, organizers netted a number equal to 46 percent of those voters.
But make no mistake. There have been only two other successful gubernatorial recalls: North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921 and California’s Gray Davis in 2003. It’s not an action that voters take lightly, and organizers are preparing for an uphill battle.
First step, of course, is the verification of the signatures by the state election board. Observers are assuming this will go smoothly – the GAB would have to throw out about 460,000 signatures to cancel the recall election.
After that, there’s the selection of a candidate to run against Walker. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk officially declared her candidacy this morning, and a few others have expressed interest as well.
But that pales in comparison to what Walker himself is bringing to the table.
While organizers were unloading 3,000 pounds of boxes of signatures in Madison, Walker was in New York City. He was at a fundraising event for his recall defense campaign hosted by the former CEO of AIG, Hank Greenberg. Attendees were asked for $2,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a couple.
To you and me, this seems like a very bad thing to be doing in terms of public relations. But Walker, as he has always done, is acting in the interest of himself and his wealthy donors – and it could be the thing that keeps him in office:
Thanks to a loophole in Wisconsin elections law, Walker can raise unlimited amounts of money to defend himself in a recall election (the typical limit for gubernatorial races is $10,000). Brad Courtney, chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, admitted last fall that raking in unlimited donations was central to Walker and the Republicans’ defense strategy, according to audio obtained by Mother Jones. Walker began fundraising in November, and has until “a recall primary or election is ordered, or after that time if incurred in contesting or defending the order” to raise unlimited donations. In other words, Walker’s unlimited fundraising window could extend well into next month.
If you’re a Wisconsinite, you probably think it’s kind of messed up how much time your governor is spending in New York, Texas, California, and DC raising money instead of addressing the jobs and unemployment crisis in his state. But in this Citizens United world, Scott Walker is doing exactly what he should be doing if he wants to win the next election. Walker pulled in $5.1 million between July and December last year, about half from outside Wisconsin. A quarter of a million dollars came from Bob Perry, the Texas homebuilder behind 2004’s Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
The way the law is now, Walker doesn’t need the approval of Wisconsin. He doesn’t need to address the jobs crisis – despite his rhetoric, the state leads the nation in job loss. What he needs is enough money to flood the airwaves with negative ads about his opponent and positive ads about himself. And thanks to loopholes and the U.S. Supreme Court, it doesn’t particularly matter where that money comes from.
If you want to end this situation where the super-rich have a huge influence on our elections, check out our 9 Demands of the 99 Percent.