In case you missed it, United Wisconsin announced earlier this week that its members collected more than 300,000 signatures in support of a Scott Walker recall election in just 12 days. That’s not necessarily surprising — single-issue activists are notoriously focused and motivated people — but it’s still impressive, translating into more than 1,040 signatures an hour.
That’s also more than half the number needed. To trigger an election, the group has to collect at least 540,208 signatures. It seems safe to say they’ll reach that goal, especially with dedicated volunteers like blogger BattiestGrrl, who has made it a personal goal to collect 1,000 signatures herself and has challenged friends to do the same. Presumably, they’re even closer today to the necessary number than they were Monday, but I’m not sure how much closer. I put in a request for the updated number of signatures, but haven’t heard back yet. As soon as they do hit their target, officials will determine the election date, which could possibly be as early as March 27.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that a signature to allow the recall election to go forward is still very different than a vote to actually recall the governor. I still think he’ll withstand the opposition’s best effort. The removal of a governor before the expiration of his term is no easily accomplished feat. In fact, just two gubernatorial recall elections in history have been successful — the efforts to recall California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.
Furthermore, while the latest reports of Walker’s approval rating reveal he’s not exactly popular (just 38 percent strongly approve), they also reveal he’s not exactly universally hated either (just 38 percent strongly disapprove). His recall will depend on highly incensed voters — and there might not be quite enough of those to oust him from office.
And, as I’ve written before, Scott Walker stands to succeed where people expect him to fail for a simple, old-fashioned reason: He’s a man of principle.
It’ll be a battle from start to finish — as every installment of this serial story has been. Both sides will be active and engaged in the fight. Since the recall effort began Nov. 15, Walker’s team has released a couple ads to downplay the recall attempt, for example, and, today, Wisconsin Democratic State Rep. Brett Hulsey released an ad against Walker. But, at this point, after two expensive attempts to rid Wisconsin of the court justice and state legislators who enabled Walker’s law to go forward in the first place, Walker opponents stand to lose far more than Walker supporters.
With every step — even with a successful signature drive — they look more foolish. What has been — and continues to be — most bizarre to me about the animosity toward Walker is that he wasn’t elected on false pretenses; he said his goal would be to balance the budget by virtually whatever means necessary and he has steadfastly pursued that goal. But according to his opponents, “Wisconsin can’t wait” for the normal election process. Hasn’t anybody ever told these people “patience is a virtue” or “wait your turn”? Wisconsin kindergarten teachers, at least, should know better.