Organizers working to recall Governor Scott Walker turned in over one million signatures last Tuesday, nearly twice as many than they needed, and almost guaranteeing an election sometime later this year.
The state’s non-partisan Government Accountability Board, the body that is tasked with overseeing election and campaign finance laws, is now tasked with reviewing the petitions and certifying that the groups indeed have met the requirements to recall Walker.
Included with the one million signatures turned in last Tuesday were an estimated 845,000 signatures seeking a recall election of Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch as well as four Republican State Senators, including Senate President Scott Fitzgerald.
The GAB normally has 31 days to certify the recall petitions but have requested at least 60 days to review the petitions due to the large number of signatures received. If the GAB receives the extension they are seeking to certify the results, officials are estimating that an election would not take place until at least June.
They estimate they need about 50 workers to review the petitions, but are having trouble filling the petitions because the requirements disqualify many who apply. Anyone who has contributed to a partisan state candidate, or has signed a recall petition is disqualified from reviewing the recall petitions.
Barring any further legal challenges, there will be an election six weeks from the day the GAB certifies the petitions. That election will almost certainly be a primary as there are currently multiple Democratic Party candidates vying to replace Walker. The general election will take place four weeks later.
State Senator Tim Cullen, from Janesville, announced his candidacy before the petitions were turned in. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced last week she also plans on running in the recall election. Falk ran for governor in 2002 but lost to Governor Jim Doyle during the primary.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010, is another possibility to run. Barrett says he is currently focused on his mayoral reelection campaign, which is being held on April 3rd.
Other potential candidates rumored to be considering a run include State Senator’s John Erpenbach and Peter Barca, as well as former Rep. Dave Obey, who retired from Congress in 2010.
A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling shows Barrett outpolling both Cullen and Falk in a head-to-head matchup, as well as winning a four-way contest when Obey was included.
Walker has wasted little time in preparing to defend his actions in an election, and has been running TV ads for the previous two months. The Wall Street Journal reporting Walker is spending about $700,000 a week on advertisements.
Walker has also taken advantage of state law that allows those targeted by a recall committee to raise unlimited funds until the GAB certifies an election.
According to campaign finance documents filed by Walker, he has raised $12 million dollars during 2011, the most by a candidate for governor in Wisconsin history. Walker received $1 million in one week alone this month, coming from four individual out-of-state donors.
The GAB estimates that it is going to cost an estimated $650,000 to process all the petitions that were submitted, and that an election would cost around $9 million.
Logan T. Carlson