By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — The opening day of Wisconsin’s recall sequel began early Tuesday morning with pajama parties and door-buster events and ended with marches, partisan shouting and rallying of the troops.
The campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators launched with the surreal but quickly got down to the brass tacks of what many see as the nasty realities of contemporary Wisconsin politics.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin, along with United Wisconsin, a liberal political action committee, opened their recall campaigns just after midnight Tuesday, with volunteers revved to begin a petition drive expected to span the next two months.
Organizers went to the Government Accountability Board, or GAB, office around 9 a.m., filing their campaign registration papers.
They need to collect more than 540,000 signatures on a petition to recall Walker and the same amount for Kleefisch. Tens of thousands more signatures will be needed for campaigns targeting four GOP senators: Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau; Pam Galloway, of Wausau; Terry Moulton, of Chippewa Falls; and Van Wanggaard, of Racine.
By multiple media accounts, the opening day of the petition drive was buzzing with activity.
“We have had a steady flow of people coming in to sign petitions and to get papers to circulate themselves,” Sue Reich, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Fond du Lac County, told Wisconsin Reporter. She also heads up United Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac Recall office. “People are out there hitting the streets, and things are going good.”
Similar reports came in from recall headquarters elsewhere in the state. Officials from at least a half-dozen recall offices referred Wisconsin Reporter to Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski. He did not return an email or attempts to contact him through subordinates.
Republicans, meanwhile, sounded fired up for the fight.
They stuck to message, as they did Monday on the eve of the recall campaign launch, pointing to what the GOP counts as a slew of victories for Wisconsin’s economy and taxpayers.
“Governor Walker balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit, saved millions of dollars for school districts and municipalities around the state, improved Wisconsin’s economic climate which has yielded over 30,000 new jobs to date, and has done it all without raising taxes,” Nicole Larson, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement.
“Democrats are fighting against facts, and the facts are that Governor Walker is putting our state back on track, and Wisconsin families will continue supporting his common sense reforms and responsible leadership.”
It was the same message at a pro-Walker Recall the Recall event Tuesday evening here, where a crowd of about 200 people packed a conference room at the Edgewater Hotel.
“Wisconsin was in a time of trouble before November 2010; we were heading in the wrong direction,” state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, told a crowd of cheering Republicans. “We had the opportunity to elect somebody and a Legislature that understand what it takes to open Wisconsin for business and turn our state around.”
The GOP swept into office in the 2010 general election, taking control of the governor’s office and the Legislature, and pushing through a unified but controversial agenda, including passage of Act 10, the law that stripped collective bargaining for most public employees.
“One man took on the task. His name was Scott Walker.”
Vos was joined by several lawmakers, including Galloway, Assistant Assembly Majority Leader Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, as well as Madison conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna.
Vos just had taken the stage when he was greeted by the kind of hostile welcome he has grown accustomed to during the past 11 months. A crowd of anti-Walker demonstrators, led by one protester, chanted and shouted in round:
“Outrage and shame!”
“You sit here at your fancy fundraiser to listen to someone who has wreaked havoc on Wisconsin’s working families …” the protester shouted.
It was quickly interrupted by at-first stunned Republicans, whose voices rose in a unison of boos, shouting down the demonstrators.
“Let’s Go! Scott Walker,” the pro-Walker crowd called out for several minutes, looking on, some jeering, as law enforcement removed the demonstrators from the crowd.
When Vos began again, he told his fellow Republicans that it is more than time anti-Walker demonstrators listen to the voices on the other side. He said a number of Republicans had dealt with such demonstrations for months, joking that, “Some of them have had things happen to them like maybe getting beer poured over your head.”
That, in fact, happened to Vos, at a Capital Square bar, when a demonstrator dumped a beer on him and screamed out obscenities.
Elsewhere, hundreds of demonstrators marched by Walker’s Wauwatosa home Tuesday evening, hoping to send a message to the governor that his days at the leader of Wisconsin politics were numbered.
A correspondent for Wisconsin Reporter said the march near Walker’s residence didn’t peak until 6 p.m. Police and march organizers discouraged people from marching on the same side as Walker’s house.
Marchers chanted, “Recall Walker!” and “union busting is disgusting!,” but the scene was reportedly as calm as could be expected.
Some of the governor’s neighbors led recall petition drives at tables in front of their houses, underscoring the political divide in neighborhoods and communities statewide.