Dirty tricks fuel recall effort

Cory Liebmann

Not even three weeks into the Scott Walker recall, the effort has gathered overwhelming momentum. Organizers recently announced that they obtained more than 300,000 signatures in the first 12 days, after collecting 105,000 during the first weekend.

In total, 540,000 signatures are needed to trigger a recall election. 

In response, Republicans have employed every desperate measure they can imagine. They even resorted to trying to change the recall rules in the middle of the game. For instance, the GOP has essentially filed suit over its own redistricting plan in a mad scramble to hang on to control of the state Senate.

In addition to Walker, the recall effort targets three of the governor’s rubber-stamp senators, all of whom are vulnerable in their current district boundaries. So Republicans are suing to move up the date that their gerrymandered redistricting maps go into effect.

In effect, they are suing themselves. They passed the legislation saying that the map would become effective with the November 2012 election. Now they’re counting on the GOP activist majority on the state Supreme Court to come to their rescue. They’re asking the court’s partisan majority to overrule their own redistricting legislation. 

Meanwhile, right-wing front groups are working overtime to thwart and otherwise defame the recall process. The shady operatives at Media Trackers videotaped young African-American women from Milwaukee signing a recall petition. They posted the video online and then appeared on Charlie Sykes’ right-wing radio show to make wild, unsubstantiated claims. Without providing any support, they told listeners that the young women were under age and not eligible to sign the petitions. 

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin followed up, documenting that the two women were eligible to sign the recall petition. But that didn’t stop Media Trackers, Sykes and the usual right-wing suspects from alleging fraud. Their goal was to sully the recall process, and they weren’t about to let the truth get in their way. 

If the Republican Party goes to such wild extremes to suppress citizens’ rights to call for an election, you can imagine how far fringe activists are willing to go. Zealots have tried to sow confusion through creation of a variety of fake websites. There have been several reports of right-wing activists tearing up recall petitions, which is a felony in Wisconsin.

The progressive organization One Wisconsin Now has created a $10,000 fund to help fight such crimes. The group also created a recall petitioner’s rights document, available at their website, onewisconsinnow.org.

All of the desperate right-wing measures have only served to invigorate recall supporters. Voters are signing petitions at a break-neck pace not only in Madison and Milwaukee but also in rural counties all over the state. 

If the Republican establishment is using dirty tricks now, just wait until the signatures are submitted. They’ll try every possible method to invalidate as many as possible. That’s why we cannot rest, even though we’re working at a remarkable pace. Not only will a very large number of signatures guard against more Republican dirty tricks, they will also serve as a clear statement that Wisconsin is ready to exercise its constitutional right to hold a recall election.