Democrats say they have collected more than the 540,208 signatures required by state law to make the recall election happen. In a speech this month at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, Walker said he is resigned to the reality of the election taking place midway through his first term.
He said the state’s union leadership wants his ouster only because, under the new rule, unions can no longer deduct dues automatically from paychecks of public-sector employees.
“What it really comes down to, I took away the gravy train, the free money they had before, and gave that right back to the workers to make that decision,” the governor said.
Last week, the Government Accountability Board, the state agency tasked with public elections, reported that the recall election would cost taxpayers $9 million, a figure that both sides are using to their advantage in their ongoing public relations campaign. Republicans are characterizing Democrats as wasteful in their mission to vilify Walker, while Democrats say the state money – a total sum spread across more than 2,000 municipalities – is worth the effort.
Mike Tate, chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, acknowledged in a recent statement that the $9 million price tag was “great,” but added “the cost of doing nothing is far greater. This undertaking is the biggest investment in the future of our state and families we can make.”
Who might be angling for Walker’s seat is not yet certain. The single candidate who has publicly expressed interest so far is state Sen. Tim Cullen, a longtime moderate who served in the state Senate from 1974 to 1987 and then ran again and won in 2010.
Other possible contenders include former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, former US Rep. Dave Obey, Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca, US Rep. Ron Kind, and Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin. The most likely, and best-known, candidate is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010.