The Campaign Spot

What You Need to Know About Wisconsin’s Recalls










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The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board helpfully lists all of the state lawmakers currently facing recall efforts and the due date for signatures; because a lawmaker can only be recalled after one year in office, some of the 14 Democrats and some of the state’s Republicans are, at least for now, untouchable to recall efforts.

The eight of the runaway 14 who could face a recall:

4th District: Lena Taylor: 13,498 signatures due April 25.

6th District: Spencer Coggs:  11,817, due April 26.

12th District: Jim Holperin: 15,960, due April 25.

16th District: Mark Miller: 20,352, due May 4 (Three separate groups are collecting signatures; this is the last of the three deadlines).

22nd District: Robert Wirch: 13,537, due April 25.

24th District: Julie Lassa: 15,879, due April 25.

26th District: Fred Risser: 19,805, due April 25.

30th District: Dave Hansen: 13,852, due April 25.

On the Republican side, eight lawmakers could face recalls:

2nd District: Robert Cowles: 15,960, May 2.

8th District: Alberta Darling: 20,343, May 2.

10th District: Sheila Harsdorf: 15,744, May 2.

14th District: Luther Olsen: 14,733, May 2.

18th District: Randy Hopper: 15,269, May 2.

20th District: Glenn Grothman: 20,061, May 2.

28th District: Mary Lazich: 20,973, May 2.

32th District: Dan Kapanke: 15,588, May 2.

At first glance, the efforts to recall the Democrats would seem to have a better chance of success, as they have four lawmakers with a recall threshold under 14,000 signatures; by contrast, seven of the eight GOP lawmakers require more than 15,000. But it is worth noting that many of these districts are highly polarized; Coggs’ district was Scott Walker’s worst-performing district in the state, where he won all of 12.5 percent. His second worst was Taylor’s (16.3 percent) and his third-worst was Risser’s (20.1 percent); it’s unlikely that many Democrats will be enraged by their lawmakers leaving the state to impede Walker’s agenda.

To reach the required signatures, recall advocates must collect several hundred signatures each day every day until the deadline, a high bar to meet. I am told by Wisconsin political junkies that the state GOP is focusing on the lowest-hanging fruit, in the districts of Holperin, Wirch, and Hansen. The Democrats are pushing for all of the Republican seats eligible for recall, which some on the right characterize as a waste of resources. The Republican on this list in the most Democrat-leaning district is Kapanke; Walker barely carried his district, 49.5 percent to 48.8 percent. By this measure, the second-most endangered Republican is Darling, in a district that Walker carried with 54 percent; of course, she has the second-highest threshold for required signatures to trigger a recall election.

UPDATE: In the comments, I see some folks wondering how the recall process works. From Katarina Trinko’s piece on the homepage: “After filing a recall petition, organizers have 60 days to collect signatures. If they gather enough signatures, state law requires a period of at least 31 days for reviewing and validating those signatures. If the result is that there are enough legitimate signatures, an election is scheduled for six weeks later.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: One of the groups sponsoring the recall efforts against the Wisconsin Democrats is the American Patriot Recall Coalition. They are indeed the group that filed the papers, and are collecting donations, but, er… buyer beware. The group is also on Facebook.


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