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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Wisconsin's Union-Busting Governor Walker Faces Recall Election

Benjamin Gottlieb |
January 15, 2012 | 11:32 p.m. PST

Executive Editor

Protesters gather outside the governor's office in Madison, Wisconsin in February of 2011 to protest the governor's plan to ax a host of rights for public employees (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons).
Protesters gather outside the governor's office in Madison, Wisconsin in February of 2011 to protest the governor's plan to ax a host of rights for public employees (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons).
Nearly one year ago, protesters in Wisconsin flooded a corridor leading to the governor's office in the state's capital of Madison, invigorated by their governor's desire to limit the rights of state public employees. The demonstration spurred a labor battle that gripped the nation and since defined the tenure of Gov. Scott Walker.

More than 700,000 signatures later, those very same demonstrators are seeking to recall their governor.

Led by a collective of state Democrats, labor groups and United Wisconsin, a local grassroots organization, the coalition needs 540,208 valid signatures by Tuesday to a trigger recall election under Wisconsin state law, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The group says they will easily exceed that figure.

So how does the governor feel about the future of his job?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (Creative Commons).
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (Creative Commons).
Sporting a familiar pair of plastic, protective glasses during an interview with Fox News, Walker seemed not to be worried. 

"I think that the bottom line is that shows that out of 5.6 million people in the state, the majority didn't sign the petition and the majority just want us to move forward," Walker told Fox News.

Click here for a timeline of the Wisconsin labor fight.

In a governorship dominated by curtailing benefits and ending collective bargaining rights for public employees, Walker's ongoing battle with his state's unions has become a vanguard for similar political skirmishes in Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Indiana.

And now, after serving just a year in office, the implications of a recall of Walker may once again influence on the rest of the country.

From the New York Times:

Politicians and political operatives far beyond Wisconsin will be watching closely, not just for what the recall effort may imply for other state’s leaders who are considering cuts to workers’ benefits and union powers as a way to solve budget problems, but also as a sign for the presidential race. Wisconsin was one of several pivotal Midwestern states that gave Barack Obama solid victories in 2008 but then elected Republicans, including Mr. Walker, in significant numbers in 2010. Money from outside the state is certain to pour in from both sides for the recall vote.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's GOP faithful are tooling up to defend Walker should the amount of signatures necessary to recall him be collected.

Republicans say they will make sure the signatures collected are legitimatized down to the last John Doe, and will have more than 5,000 volunteers on hand for the verification effort, a GOP spokesperson told the Journal-Sentinel.

"We are putting together this comprehensive statewide effort to assure that Wisconsin electors are not disenfranchised," Ben Sparks, a GOP spokesman, told the Journal-Sentinel. "This is in response to the repeated allegations of fraud that have permeated this process from day one."

Recall petitions are also expected to be filed against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four of the state's senators.

For all of Neon Tommy's coverage of the Wisconsin labor battle, click here.


To reach Benjamin Gottlieb, click here.

Follow him on Twitter @benjamin_max.

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