Nearly a year after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker launched his push to curb teachers’ collective bargaining powers, opponents say they’ve turned in more than 1 million signatures to recall him from office.
United Wisconsin, a group that organized the recall campaign, said this afternoon that it submitted the signatures to the state agency that oversees elections.
The group boasts that the drive is the largest such recall effort in the nation’s history. In order for a recall to make it onto the ballot, supporters need to have collected 540,208 valid signatures, or one-quarter of the 2,160,832 votes cast during November 2010 general election, when Walker, a Republican, defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat.
It will take the state’s Government Accountability Board at least 60 days, and possibly longer, to review the petitions to determine how many signatures are valid, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the agency, in an e-mail.
Walker’s opponents still face serious obstacles to removing him from office, such as rounding up a viable Democratic challenger. Some speculation focuses on Barrett pursuing a rematch, while other names floating about include former longtime-U.S. Rep. David Obey. Some big-name Democrats, such as former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, have said they’re not interested.
The Walker recall effort follows Ohio voter’s rejection of a similiar law, which would have reduced collective bargaining powers for teachers and many other public employees. That measure, signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich, was rejected by voters in November by a wide margin.
Like Kasich, Walker has argued that the collective bargaining law, which was approved last year after a bruising fight in the statehouse, will save taxpayers money, drive down school district costs, and give school boards and administrators more negotiating power with teachers’ unions.
Wisconsin Republicans have alleged irregularities in the collection of signatures for Walker’s recall, and they took a dim view of United Wisconsin’s announcement that their count had topped a million.
“We had no doubt the Democrats would be able to rally their left-wing supporters around this baseless and expensive recall effort,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney in a statement. “This shameful recall attempt of the Governor will accomplish nothing but saddle Wisconsin taxpayers with over $9 million in unbudgeted costs. Regardless of what the radical left may believe, Wisconsin families will continue to stand with Governor Walker, who has balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, and created thousands of new jobs.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.