Saturday, January 14, 2012

WI Update: All Six Recalls Have Signatures Needed; A Look to What’s Next

It was November 15, 2011, a day that I will never forget. It was night-time and we were all waiting until midnight so we could start signing recall petitions. The recall had officially started and it was not going to be an easy task. We had two months to collect over 540,000 valid signatures. We had goals ranging from 700,000 to a million signatures. Wisconsinites worked as hard as they could even through the holiday season. Mother nature seems to have agreed with the recall of Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch as well as we had the best weather in December and January that I have ever seen here in Wisconsin. We had thirty to fifty degree days throughout most of our signature collecting period. It is only fitting, I guess, that it snowed right as the recall was concluding. But today is Friday, the recall is over. We don’t know the number of signatures but we do know we have enough. Perhaps even more surprising, however, is how well the Senate recalls did. All four of the State Senators who had recalls filed against them have enough signatures to hold an election. In the recall of Scott Fitzgerald we see how even a very conservative district can turn on you when you betray the people. This recall was started by one woman, Lori Compas, and with a ton of passion and absolutely no help from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin until the last two days. The State of Wisconsin owes a lot to Lori.

But as we move forward we must remember how we got here in the first place. And we must look to the future with a new lens. There are many possible candidates. One that has announced already is Tim Cullen. Tim Cullen is a career politician who has made many mean and untruthful statements about the protesters in Wisconsin. In the prank phone call where Ian Murphy pretended to be David Koch, Cullen was mentioned as a good friend of Scott Walker’s. Cullen also voted YES to the second Senate Bill 12 which moved $28 million out of Employee Trust Funds (or public employee retirement money) just days after returning back to the state. Then there’s Kathleen Falk. Kathleen has run for twice for state office, once for Governor and once for Attorney General, both unsuccessful, sometimes not even able to gain support from her own Dane County constituents. During Kathleen’s time as County Executive she slashed funding for disabilities and related services, long before the recession. But the real reason she shouldn’t run is that she is just not that strong of a candidate. This is why we keep losing. We vote for whoever the unions throw their money behind (which will likely be Falk, just judging by the media hype around her already) and just expect a good candidate. But we will not win a Governor’s election with candidates who have lost time and time again in the past, even for smaller offices than that of the Governor.

And then there’s Mahlon Mitchell and Dave Obey. Mahlon has become a rising star and has been one of the most “hand-on” union leaders in this entire movement. He is a wonderful speaker and is a newcomer to the political system. In fact, he had only started his position a month before this whole battle began nearly a year ago. He is young, charismatic, and sensible. His name recognition statewide is not the best but it doesn’t have to be. Any candidate running will have statewide recognition within days of announcing. Whether or not Mahlon runs for office in the recall, I think we can expect big things from him in the future. And there’s Dave Obey. He doesn’t come from Madison or Milwaukee which will definitely be an asset. He also has a lot of support in Wisconsin, from all corners that I can see. His name is coming up more and more as people start discussing candidates and he has ranked fairly decent in a couple of polls I have seen. While I am not opposed to an Obey campaign, I also don’t like this notion that people are “on the fence.” I don’t think there is much of anyone who is “on the fence” in Wisconsin. The right has polarized themselves so far that people can no longer even justify being “on the fence.”

Some of the other names floating around include Doug LaFollette, Peter Barca, Jon Erpenbach, Lena Taylor, and many others. Doug LaFollette has been a very strong Secretary of State this year, however in his 32 years prior he has very few accomplishments. In fact, due to this, he almost lost to a Tea Party candidate with very little name recognition at all. But Doug’s heart is in the right place and he is an environmentalist. Peter Barca would not make a horrible candidate but he is a politician through and through. On September 14, 2011, four people were injured by police when being arrested for filming. I was one of the four. After two people were removed and injured, Representative Radcliffe made a motion to allow videotaping as banning it is unconstitutional. Barca said they could discuss it later that this was not the time for the First Amendment. He later said it was because he wanted to get his message through and didn’t want our First Amendment battles detracting from his message for the day (purely political). His staff later lied to the media claiming we were yelling at them when we were not. Jon Erpenbach would make a strong candidate, although he has had some controversy lately for voting to make it a misdemeanor to sign recall petitions more than once. And Lena Taylor would definitely make a strong candidate as well. She voted YES for concealed carry showing an ability to work across party lines even in 2011, a hard year in the legislature.

In the end Walker will be gone. But the question is will we choose a candidate the same way we chose Tom Barrett? Will we choose the candidate with the most money or “endorsements?” Or will we finally break free and realize we must change the way we vote in order to change our state? I don’t know the answer to this, I guess only time will tell. I do know, however that we will keep fighting. One day longer! One day stronger!

Jeremy Ryan
Executive Director
Defending Wisconsin PAC

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Note: Segway Jeremy Ryan has become a full-time member of the protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Formerly a businessman, he gave up his business to join the fight for the middle class in the State of Wisconsin. Through videos and writings he has informed hundreds of thousands of people about what was going on at the Wisconsin State Capitol once the mainstream media had mostly abandoned the protests. His full-time activism is completely funded by the people. If you would like to help out please click here.

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