Petitions for the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch as well as 4 Republican State Senators (Majority Leader Fitzgerals as well as State Senators Waanggard, Galloway, and Moulton) are due in to the Government Accountability Board tomorrow.
It's another step on the long road that began in February, 2011, when Scott Walker and his GOP majority state legislature decided to declare war on all but the wealthiest people of Wisconsin. We didn't start the war or cause it to start. We were going about our busy lives, our work, caring for our families, paying our bills, and planning for our futures.
War was declared on us and we were shocked. Most shocked were the people who were fooled by tens of millions of dollars of attack ads paid for by anonymous donors to groups like Wisconsin for Prosperity that existed only on paper with enormous bank accounts. They were fooled by millions of dollars of advertising showing friendly-looking, smiling, sleeves rolled up candidates promising jobs, jobs, and more jobs to people in Wisconsin. They never saw our media examine or challenge any of the lies or the records and claims of Scott Walker or Ron Johnson, so they were certain they were being told the truth. They swallowed the bait, but failed to see the hook.
The hook came out quickly after the inaguration when Republicans controlled not only the State Assembly, as they had for many years (and now controlled it so much that they didn't need a single Democrat to show up for quorum), but also controlled the State Senate and Governors office. It started quietly, with a $140 million corporate tax break that passed under the radar, unnoticed.
Shortly after providing that corporate largess, Governor Walker announced a $130 million budget shortfall which needed to be "repaired" (not mentioned was the fact that he and his Republican legislature had caused the shortfall in the first place). His remedy to the deficit was the strip state employees of their unions, limit any other public employees in Wisconsin to collectively bargain only for wages (not working conditions, staffing, safety issues, benefits, etc.), require large payments from all public employees to pay for their benefits, and reduce funds to programs that provide necessary assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.
Massive protests of tens of thousands of Wisconsites began inside and outside of our State Capitol to try to bring our state government to its senses.
That was followed up by the State Budget, which further peeled away at the citizens with $1.8 billion in cuts to schools, severe cuts to our excellent university system, drastic cuts to Medicaid and Badger Care, the ability of the Governor to "liquidate" state assets without a bidding process, as well as other shocking measures. All 14 of our Democratic State Senators left the state to prevent the quorum necessary to pass the bill that was being rammed through.
We've Seen Defeat at Times
Yes. We've seen defeat. Union stripping passed, although it's being challenged in the Courts because Republicans ignored state law in their hurry to get it passed as fast as they could. They passed the horrendous state budget, not because it was right, but because they could and wanted to reward their corporate sponsors. They closed our Capitol, The Peoples House, out of an arrogance that they could do anything they wanted. And when the Courts ruled that they couldn't, they reopened it with an entry checkpoint security system that rivalled anything our most secure public buildings were using.
They decried protestors as dirty slobs, outside agitators, union goons, and worse despite photographs and video showing families participating. They thought about planting "troublemakers" in the crowds to create havoc, but didn't do so only because the Governor feared being pressured into discussing or compromising with the protesting citizens to end the dispute. Their lackey in the Department of Administration insisted that protesters were causing multi-million dollars in damages to the Capitol (actual cost - a couple hundred thousand dollars mostly from floor tape used by the news media). They tried to turn the Madison police into a goon squad they could use against the protests and when that failed they imported, at state cost, police from outlying counties to do their bidding.
And, when they lost control of the State Senate majority in the summer recall elections and couldn't just pass new laws willy nilly, they turned to changing administrative rules to end the possibility of future protests.
We've Seen Victory at Times:
The protests in Madison got nation wide attention and support. We saw polling on union rights that showed us to have majority support not just in Wisconsin, but nationwide. We saw the tens of thousands of protesters and knew we weren't alone. And the crowds kept growing and growing while Governor Walker kept saying we'd get tired, accept what he was doing, and just go away. We never did.
We couldn't stop the legislation, but we saw the strength of our Wisconsin Democrats who stood strong and united in opposition to the extremism. Even the more conservative of them didn't waver. We couldn't be more proud and continue to hope that they will be an example to national Democrats on the value of standing strong and together.
We successfully petitioned for 6 of 8 eligible Republican State Senators to stand for recall election. These Republicans, elected in 2008, were in such safe red districts that they survived the 2008 Democratic wave. And we succeeded in replacing 2 of them with great Democrats. On top of that, we protected all 3 of the Democratic State Senators the GOP tried to recall with smarmy tactics (paid, outside recallers and remember the bar room "shots for your signatures" guy?).
We came back after a few months for the Walker recall (once again, our Governor shilled that the protests were "over" and we'd just accepted what was done) with tens of thousands of petition gatherers to recall the Governor, Lt. Governor and an additional 3 Republican State Senators. On top of that, a local group decided to recall State Senator and Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (whose brother is the Republican Speaker of our State Assembly) and, incredibly, they will be submitting sufficient signatures to do that - a herculean feat considering his district.
Of all of the victories we've had, the exposure of the normally invisible Koch Brothers and ALEC has been the most important. Like cockroaches, they prefer to be in the dark, silently pulling the strings of their puppet officials. Not anymore. Sunlight is being shined upon them and their activities. No rock is large enough for them to crawl beneath anymore. They can run, but they can't hide.
Tomorrow the petitions get turned in to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board (the only state agency Scott Walker doesn't control with an appointee). The number of signatures is irrelevant - there will be more than enough to survive the relentless GOP challenges we expect. We'll get the actual number tomorrow and I'll wait for that.
The Recall Future:
Walker and his minions have been all over loudly decrying the recalls. "Divisive", "very costly" (they're throwing out a price tag of $ 6 million), "we're broke and can't afford it", "we need to move forward", and on and on. State Senator Alberta Darling (R-wealthy Milwaukee suburbs) was on Milwaukee Channel 4's This Week with Mike Gousha yesterday peddling that crap (she sounded like a used car saleman promoting a junker as a low milage, gently driven, low cost vehicle that should be snapped up quickly before someone else buys it).
The GOP has already filed law suits (aren't these the guys that rant on and on about needing to end frivolous law suits?) to try to stop or stall the recalls. They'll file more. They'll use every sleazy tactic they can dream up to stop the inevitable recall elections in the hopes that the escalating rise in job loss here in Wisconsin (we're Number One in job losses nationwide) will reverse and give Walker and his fellow Republicans an opportunity to crow about how they're bringing jobs to the state.
They'll challenge every signature, pump out more liar ads promoting Walker, and continue to depend on our comatose, RW leaning media to catapult their propaganda or ignore the awful truth about our state. Remember, their goal is to stop or stall the elections until the political or economic times are better for the GOP.
The Future in Wisconsin:
Walker and his GOP buddies are already out there promoting a "jobs" agenda to try to change the subject. Their recent Jobs Special Legislative Session, in which extremism like banning sex education and contraception were the only things discussed, was a bust. But, it does give them a nice sounding talking point to the unaware, low information crowd, that they are "working on" jobs.
The Governor just unveilled a plan to reduce Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Wisconsin (mostly just attacks on poor people applying for needed benefits) and a Jobs package (mostly more state money to finance private/public partnership deals along with a few more Jobs Fairs across the state). They don't do much other than to allow the GOP to talk about how much work they're doing (pretending to do).
We'll still be here. Ready to gather again for the GOTV efforts for the elections, voter registration drives, or whatever becomes necessary in the future. We'll keep educating people on what's happened to our state and what's necessary to change it. We'll stay active and alert.
It's war, you know. We didn't start it, but we'll keep fighting in it until we win.
Thanks for your ongoing support.
Update: I forgot to mention the ongoing John Doe Probe. It's been going on since before the 2010 elections and has already resulted in several executed search warrants of Walker staff, immunity granted to Walker aides, a huge fine to a Walker supporter who attempted to skirt donation limits by funnelling money through his employees, and the very recent arrests of 3 people (including a high level Walker aide) for embezzlement and child pornography. More of that, please.
Wouldn't it be amazing if the GOP delaying tactics caused the recall election to be held shortly after the full John Doe Probe results are publicized?
Update #2: 3000 Pounds of Democracy Edition: According to Mike Tate, Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party:
I'm at our undisclosed location in Madison right now where thousands of volunteers have been working around-the-clock to verify and prepare all of the signatures you have collected to recall Scott Walker.
We're still counting and verifying all of the signatures, but I do have some amazing news to share with you.
The weight of all the petitions you have circulated totals more than 3,000 lbs.
So, the final count hasn't been established yet, but the result is awesome.
Video Update from The Ed Show:
My apologies for the ad at the beginning and the MSNBC links below the video. I'm puter stoopid and admit it. I can't post a picture, can barely post a video, and can't find a way to dump those.