In The News
Walker flipped recall off, now opposed by a million points of light
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Labor Press
Posted January 17, 2012
The numbers are staggering – one million and still counting to recall Scott Walker. Some duplicates surely. But all recalls succeeded bigtime -- pouring more than 1,932,000 signatures into the Government Accountability Board on Tuesday, January 17, via trucks, tons of petitions and hundreds of the thousands of determined volunteers who tramped neighborhoods in every county in the face of derision, doubt and anger from a dwindling coterie of Walker believers.
Factually, the signatures reflect about as many citizens as voted in 2010 for his Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, and within 125,000 of all who voted for Walker.
The results are particularly overwhelming when you realize that the highly publicized GOP intention to scrutinize and record every name on the petitions was actually a warning to disgruntled Republicans not to sign -- and most took the hint for fear of being drummed out of the party or getting midnight calls from right-wing neighbors. They knew there would be a GOP man going ‘round taking names.
These recall numbers are a death knell for Governor Walker -- if the people hang together around any candidate but that missing village idiot from Texas.
Wisconsin fury didn’t cause a hiccup in the well-heeled Walker spin machine. It stubbornly kept regurgitating the fibs he lives on, relying on the media not to challenge his whoppers.
Gone, you would have thought, should be the claim that only unions oppose him, since three times as many citizens as there are union members signed up against him (and that was even without those cowed Republicans).
A quirk in state law allows Walker to raise unlimited funds until an election is called, another invitation to delay and obfuscate in endless commercials about how what’s not working is working. He has to hope his millions of dollars will counter the grassroots million. The race is on. Will money really equal free speech in this contest?
“He has the dollars, we have the voters,” commented Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor. But his exaggerations keep coming even as the Democratic Party points out that an election could be decreed the minute the minimum of 540,208 is confirmed.
There are surely duplicate signatures and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn't total a couple of thousand despite the heroic efforts of the recall gatherers to clean the incoming deluge as they went along. But it was caused mainly by Walker goons who tore up petitions in the early days, created fake turn-in squads and otherwise made citizens worry that their first tries had been trashed. Expect fear and misdirection to continue as a key Walker tactic.
Every recall is home free with plenty of ammo to spare. There are more than 845,000 signatures against the lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, dragged into office along with Walker. All targeted GOP state senators face recalls -- thousands above the minimum needed: Scott Fitzgerald 20,600 (needed 16,742); Terry Moulton 21,000 (14,958); Pam Galloway 21,000 (15,647), and Racine’s Van Wanggaard 24,000 (15,353).
More GOP whining: The cost! Oh Lord, the cost! Little cost so far since it was all volunteers, but oh, what awaits the taxpayers! The recall backers retorted quickly to that canard, pointing out: “It would take more than seven recall elections to equal the cost of Walker's tax increase on seniors and working families. It would take more than 11 recalls to equal the tuition hike Walker foisted on the UW System students and families. It would take 255 recall elections to match the s $2.3 billion in tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations and the super-rich.”
Frankly, if the GAB estimate of $9 million is right, what a bargain for a state now bringing up the rear in job numbers!
Yes, the Chicago Tribune does point out that “Democrats have been as quick to inflate the magnitude of job stagnation” even “as Walker has been quick to paint an unduly rosy portrait.”
What do the economists say? If you look at the extent of his policies and the hard facts, “The Democrats win the fact-checking argument.”
Except at those newspapers that editorially backed Walker and went on record questioning the validity of the recall process. They still run front-page photos of the hundreds standing behind him compared to the million that signed papers against him. Their fact checks are reduced to attacking Tweets and Democratic Party press releases since so little of the economic news is on his side.
Walker campaigns on the fumes of myth. One is that his backers sat for months during the recall unable to speak up for him. Actually his minions have been scampering tirelessly to chill the recall, clamping down on dismay within the GOP, demeaning the grassroots opponents as union clones, passing laws to handcuff the movement, and trying to stick the taxpayers with millions in legal fees spent to defend their position and policies.
Then there’s the decision that the people hired by Walker’s hand-picked temp agencies at the GAB cannot have signed a petition if they want the job. That flies in the face of how we choose jurors and how we trust citizens to do their duty and follow the law. But there is a theory behind it, that they might be tempted to let a questionable signature pass (like what? Goofy?) while the Walker supporters who are more automatically hired can merely challenge every signature in sight, just making more work for the professional GAB staff.
Except it is the GOP legislature that controls the GAB purse strings in time and manpower – and expect them to turn into Scrooges.
Another media myth: Since the signatures are in, the election is imminent. Not so. There are likely months of counting and GOP manufactured delays ahead to give Walker more time to raise money. Think six months down the road. (State senate recalls will happen faster if the Democrats get their way in court.)
But the biggest distraction in news stories is that it is all for nothing since it’s undecided who will run against Walker. Who, the media asks, will appeal to the independents and moderates as well as progressives? (But all signed the petitions as the media is about to learn – just look inside those numbers!)
Usually political parties move to the backroom to pick their candidate, but no one faction is in charge here. The recall people sound open to a primary to sort it out. The numbers suggest that whoever emerges will have unified backing.
Walker’s bigger problem is in his own camp, where rumbles have emerged that he could face a primary of his own, and not against “fake Republicans.”
The analogy is that the Republican Party is like the owner of the lavish Italian cruise line who quickly threw the captain overboard when he disobeyed authority, took his ship onto the rocks, capsized it and cost lives as well as profits.
Minus the direct deaths, the state GOP is facing a similar disaster unless they find a more intelligent standard bearer. It will be hard, one veteran party leader told me, given the outside right-wing money and organization Walker has, but it’s necessary -- “If anyone has the cojones to save us.”