JOHN NICHOLS: Wisconsinites of every political stripe overwhelmingly support recall effort

November 20, 2011
John Nichols

In the first 48 hours of the movement to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, more than 50,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions to force the governor and lieutenant governor to face a new election and the prospect of removal from office.

And that number will multiply. More than 20,000 people have downloaded petitions from United Wisconsin as the group works to gather the required 540,000 signatures, and tens of thousands more signatures have been collected from the more than 30 United Wisconsin offices across the state.

The recall movement is real, and remarkable in its strength and reach.

Walker knows he is in trouble.

One sign of that was the governor showing up last Wednesday on Sean Hannity's Fox News show to whine about protesters at his Wauwatosa home and to repeat his spin that all he's doing is requiring state workers to pay more toward their pensions and health care. As right-wingers usually do, both Hannity and Walker blithely ignored the fact that the primary factor behind the recall is the objection to Walker and his Republican allies taking away public workers' collective bargaining rights.

Another sign of Walker's worries is that his legislative allies have moved to give the governor the power to veto rule changes made by the state's Government Accountability Board, the agency that will oversee the recall. Why? They don't want the GAB to make it any easier for supporters of the recall to gather signatures electronically. And they want to make it harder for students to vote.

"Republicans are trying to make it harder for students to vote and they should be ashamed of themselves," says state Rep. Mark Pocan, the Madison Democrat who negotiated with Republicans in 2007 to create the GAB and take partisanship out of our election and ethics agencies. "Today, Republicans sent a strong signal that Scott Walker wants the fairest election he can rig."

Pocan's right to worry about the prospect of more shenanigans from the same political insiders who ran fake "Democrats" in last summer's state Senate recall elections, proposed to amend the state constitution to make it dramatically harder to launch recall campaigns, and triggered the current recall a week early so the governor could collect unlimited campaign contributions from out-of-state donors.

But it won't work.

As hard as they may try to game the process, to weight it down with out-of-state money, to foster the fantasy that the governor's "reforms" are "working," the Wisconsinites are seeing through the gimmicks, fantasies and lies.

The new St. Norbert/Wisconsin Public Radio poll shows that Wisconsinites favor recalling Walker by 58-38 percent. The governor claims the St. Norbert poll is "notoriously inaccurate." Yet just last year the poll predicted his election and came within two points of predicting his winning percentage of the vote.

The governor will say anything, do anything to try to save his political hide.

But the people of Wisconsin are on to him. Democrats want him out. Independents want him out. In fact, more than 20 percent of Republicans now say they want to see Walker recalled.