Top Democrats in Wisconsin are increasingly worried that Republicans will be able to prevent Governor Scott Walker from recall by engineering a situation in which the election to recall and replace him takes place on the same day as the Wisconsin GOP 2012 presidential primary, when GOP turnout is at a maximum, I’m told.
The possibility of this happening is being taken so seriously by Wisconsin Dems that they are currently gaming out what to do about it. That both sides are already plotting their strategies over Walker is a sign that both recognize that a recall election against him is a near certainty and that it will be intensely fought, with an immense amount riding on the outcome.
Leading Wisconsin Dems are leaning towards a plan to ensure that the recall election against Walker is held on the same day as the November general election in 2012. This would ensure maximum turnout among Dems in the state, making Walker’s recall more likely, and provide a big boost in grassroots energy that could help Obama win a key swing state.
But Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for Wisconsin Dems, tells me that party members have picked up private scuttlebutt from Republicans that they have another scheme in mind — to ensure that the recall election is held on the same day in April as the GOP presidential primary.
“Democrats have privately spoken with top Republicans who think triggering a spring recall election is their best path to protecting Scott Walker and preserving his agenda,” Zielinski tells me, though he said the party was not publicly advocating for one route or the other.
Here’s the situation, in a nutshell: The date of the recall depends on when signature gathering for the election starts. If it starts this fall, just after the recalls against state senators wrap up, activists will have 60 days to collect the required signatures. If they succeed by the end of the year, Wisconsin officials very well may schedule the Walker recall to coincide with the next big statewide election: The GOP primary.
Some local activists on the Dem side want to begin collecting signatures for Walker’s recall just after the current elections conclude, in order to build on their momentum. But some top Dems worry that this will play into the hands of Republicans who want this timeline. What’s more, Dems expect Republicans to try to encourage this outcome by launching their own dirty-trick drives to collect signatures for Walker ’s recall on this timeline, in order to force the earlier date.
(If that sounds far fetched, consider that the Wisconsin GOP hatched a scheme to run fake Dems in Dem primaries to delay the current recall elections.)
Instead of this, top Democrats want to launch the drive for signatures to recall Walker next spring or later, thus ensuring that the election would take place on the same day as the general election.
“The best shot at beating Walker is November 2012, when President Obama and competitive Congressional races, are also on the ballot,” a source familiar with top-level discussions says. “We play right into Scott Walker’s hands by doing this recall sooner. That’s exactly what he wants. It’s a death trap.”