Reporting Bill Hudson
MENOMONIE, Wis. (WCCO) – In the rented offices of the Dunn County Democratic party, the signs and posters are put away, and stacks of “Recall Walker” cardboard pickets are neatly stacked in piles, leaning against the walls.
Why? Because thousands of signatures on paper petitions speak the loudest.
Paul Hambleton, a union organizer for the West Central Education Association, said the effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had a grass-roots beginning.
“This is one of those things that was self-organizing,” he said.
When Walker, a Republican, and the Republican controlled Legislature stripped collective bargaining rights from teachers and other public employees, it brought a firestorm of protest.
Opponents of the law quickly descended on Madison and began a lengthy occupation of the capitol building. Democratic lawmakers fled to Illinois to avoid a vote on the bill, but to no avail.
So when the bill passed and Walker signed it into law, unions responded with a recall election. Beginning Nov.15, 2011, the recall organizers had 60 days to collect 540,208 signatures statewide.
Once officials certify that the signatures are correct and that the opposition has reached the required number, the Government Accountability Board (GAB) will then schedule an election, organizers said.
Organizers in Wisconsin’s 72 counties expect to deliver 200,000 more signatures to the GAB than would be required to force a recall election.
Hambleton said the reason so many signatures came in was because the appeal went beyond teachers and public employees. The effort did not center on pitting democrats against republicans, but rather, right against wrong.
“Do we want to be a state that demonizes, or a state where we sit down and talk about the concerns and problems we have and then resolve them?” he said. “That’s the Wisconsin our members have known and the Wisconsin we want back.”