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Three State Senators to Face Recall in Wisconsin


May 26, 2011

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During the massive protests in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-collective bargaining bill, activists, including many IBEW members,  began to consider what they would do if the bill passed.  Would voters who went to the polls to elect Walker’s supporters in the state legislature sign enough petitions to force the state to schedule recall elections?  Would enough voters turn out on Election Day to vote them out of office?

The first question was partially answered on May 23 when a state board certified petitions collected to force a recall election for three Republican state senators.  Soon, the board will consider recall petitions against six other senators—three Republicans and three Democrats.  Republicans currently control the senate 19-14.

If there are no primary challenges, the recall elections will take place on July 12th. In the case of primary challenges, the election will take place on August 9.  Republican or Democratic Party leaders could delay the schedules by challenging the recalls in court.

The scope of Wisconsin’s recall elections is unprecedented nationally. Only four recall elections have been held in Wisconsin since 1926. 

Wisconsin’s  IBEW Political Coordinator Dave Boetcher says he is hopeful that the recall efforts targeting senators who opposed collective bargaining will succeed.  Special elections, he says,  are often low in turnout. The most motivated voters show up. This year, he says, those are voters who want to defend workers rights and a balanced society.  But many Republican supporters are also motivated to back their senators, and to show support for Walker.

Stevens Point Local 388 Business Agent Guy LePage lives in the district represented by Sen.  Jim Holperin, a Democrat facing recall. He says:

I’m noticing a lot of Holperin signs popping up on the lawns of school teachers and retired military personnel who I know are staunch Republicans.

 Holperin has visited constituents who signed the Republican’s petition for his recall and found that canvassers often obscured the language of the petition.

 “I feel for Holperin and the other Democrats who left the state for Illinois to protest anti-labor legislation,” says LePage.  LePage says Holperin stands a good chance of keeping his seat despite the deliberate confusion spread about the Democrats’ reasons for leaving the state.

I’ve never been so proud as I was when those guys came back from Illinois. They left their families and put up with everything they did for us.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user David Hofmann