The Democratic Party says it has 15 percent of the total statewide signatures needed to recall eight Republican legislators.
As recall efforts heat up and national and local news reports these efforts in Wisconsin could have historical implications, Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Communications Director Graeme Zielinski warns there may be surprises for some "more moderate" Republicans.
Currently, 16 state senators face recalls -- eight Democrats and eight Republicans.
While some Republicans, such as Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), have come forward to express their desire to negotiate Gov. Scott Walker's budget and budget repair bill, other Republicans remain mum's the word -- or staunchly supportive of Walker's collective bargaining rights stripping and budget slashes.
According to Zielinski, Walker supporter Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-Milwaukee) is a logical target for recall due to her largely Democratic Milwaukee district, narrow winning margin of 1,007 votes, less than 1% of voters, and the "large segment of her district that she doesn't represent properly" because she is "kind of a right-wing extremist."
Recall Darling Campaign Organizer and Shorewood, Wis., resident Kristopher Rowe told Ed Schultz Monday evening that the effort has several thousand signatures already, "and we just started."
"She's my state senator and has been a local supporter of Governor Walker's initiatives since day one," Rowe said. "She had her chance and she already voted" to support Walker's budget and budget repair bill.
"It would surprise me at this point if she did not face recall," Zielinski said.
However, Zielinski noted, "There are plenty of other senators whom everyone assumes they're safe because they've never come out with an indictment against unions."
Zielinski specifically pointed to Republican senators like Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), topnews, and Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), who have long-term incumbencies and voting records in favor of renewable energy, felon DNA sample collecting and tighter restrictions on Medicaid expenditures. All three currently are at risk for recall, as their incumbents' coordinate efforts in their districts.
"This is stuff I never thought I'd see," he said, noting there were 800 people in Waukesha, Wis. -- one of Wisconsin's most Republican-by-votes counties -- Monday evening protesting Walker and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan at a Charlie Sykes event. Sykes is Milwaukee's Newsradio 620 WTMJ's right-wing talk-show host.
Also Monday evening, U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) and State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) held a town hall meeting in conservative Wauwatosa, but after a few interruptions Sensenbrenner told citizens to "shut up" and finally gaveled the meeting to a close, prompting outbreaks of "Shame, shame shame!" from the packed audience. See video here. During the town hall meeting at the Wauwatosa Library, budget opponents sought Vukmir recall signatures in the lobby of the Wauwatosa Civic Center down the hall.
"Throw out your models. Throw out your votes from the last election. This is existential," Zielinski said.
Zielinski also confirmed the 15% figure -- the number of signatures the DPW claims to have obtained statewide for the recall of the 8 senators. The goal last weekend was to obtain 10,000 signatures for recalls. The DPW reports it has exceeded that goal by 35%, with approximately 13,500 signatures total.
"We don't want to exactly let folks know which districts we're doing well in," Zielinski reiterated, indicating the Dems wanted Republicans to feel nervous about whether they were at risk for recall.
He also said the DPW desires to pore over the results from districts' recall efforts as they roll in: "We don't want people to let up the effort. These are grassroots efforts, so we don't get the numbers exactly when we hear from them."
So, for all those Republican who are thinking, "Recall? It could never happen here," Zielinski begs to differ: "I think it just might."