Enough petition signatures have been verified to trigger a recall of Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state election officials decided Monday.
The state Government Accountability Board voted 5-0 to order the recall election. If a primary election is needed, it will be held May 8. The general election date will be June 5.
This is the first time in Wisconsin history a governor is up for a recall election.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, there have only been two successful gubernatorial recalls in U.S. history — against California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.
Of the 931,053 signatures submitted for the Walker recall, the GAB staff found 900,938 valid signatures. And of 842,854 signatures collected for the Kleefisch recall, staff reported that 808,990 were valid signatures.
To trigger the recall, the committees needed 540,208 for both officials.
“This process is unique, we’ve never seen this level of participation across the country,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the GAB.
Walker defended his policies on FOX 6 News Friday morning:
“Two years ago the majority of people in this state elected me to do a job and we have been doing it ever since. We balanced the budget without raising taxes, without major layoffs, and without cutting core services like Medicaid," he said.
According to a story published by Businessweek.com, the next 67 days will intensify a that began with Walker’s budget repair bill in February 2011, which stripped public union employees of their ability to collectively bargain, mandated that they recertify every year, pay 5.9 percent of their salaries into their pension funds and pay 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums.
The bill was passed into law in March 2011. Thousands of public union members protested and kicked off a petition drive in November with the hopes of triggering a recall of Walker, Kleefisch, and four state senators: Scott Fitzgerald, Pam Galloway, Van H. Wanggaard and Terry Moulton, to be held June 5. Galloway resigned earlier this month.
Officials with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin marked the historical significance of the event, but downplayed the need for celebration.
Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said:
Today, for the first time in Wisconsin history, a recall election was certified against a sitting governor. This is no great cause for celebration, mainly because the reasons for the recall are so grave. This is accountability in the style of Wisconsin. More than a million strong, we did not want to walk this path — we were brought onto it by Scott Walker and his radical excesses and reckless use of power.
Wisconsin deserves an honest discussion about her future. Today's actions ensure that this judgment will now be in the hands of the people.
Ben Sparks, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, told Business Week that the news of the recall comes as no surprise.
We have long anticipated that union activists would be able to rally their liberal base to force this baseless recall on Wisconsin families. Voters in our state are more than ready to combat these liberal union activists to protect the vote they cast in 2010; the votes which elected Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch with an overwhelming majority.
Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch's supporters have been hard at work for months making phone calls and knocking on doors from RPW Victory Centers in every corner of the state, and our army of grassroots volunteers only grows by the day. Wisconsin families have repeatedly shown they want to continue moving Wisconsin forward, away from the failed liberal policies of the previous administration.
Candidates who want to run have until 5 p.m. April 10 to circulate and file nomination petitions and declaration of candidacy papers with the GAB.
State senate candidates would need at least 400 signatures, and governor and lieutenant governor candidates need a minimum of 2,000 signatures. A primary election would be triggered if more than one candidate files papers for any political party and office.