So how’s the drive to recall Wisconsin GOP state senators going? If these new numbers the Wisconsin Democratic Party shares with me are accurate, it’s already exceeding expectations in a big way.
Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the party, tells me that activists working on the recall push already collected over the weekend 15 percent of the total necessary signatures needed to force recalls in all eight of the GOP districts Dems are targeting. He says that the party -- which is helping to coordinate and keeping track of outside efforts to gather signatures -- set itself a goal of 10,000 signatures for the weekend, and has already exceeded it by 35 percent.
Zielinski also claims that recall forces over the weekend put more than 2,000 volunteers on the street to collect signatures. He also says volunteers have collected 26 percent of the signatures required in one district, and 20 percent in another, though he wouldn’t say which ones, because Dems want GOP senators to fret that they are the ones in question.
If these numbers are close to accurate, they are a surprising sign of the power of the grassroots energy uncorked by Scott Walker’s union-busting proposals. Under Wisconsin law, a recall requires a number of signatures totaling 25 percent of the number that voted in the last gubernatorial election.
In case you’re tempted to regard these numbers with skepticism, given the source, keep in mind that they could be easily disproved -- and Wisconsin Dems caught inflating numbers -- if organizers were to end up falling well short of the required signatures. What’s more, as the Milwakee Journal Sentinel reported the other day, the influx of national money and the unique energy on the ground in Wisconsin suggests there’s good reason to think recall drives in the state could prove to have unprecedented success. And Walker’s continued attacks on Dems and labor are only serving to further stoke passions.
Also: As Ben Smith pointed out yesterday, the mechanics of recall drives favor unions, because of their organizing ability, and because many Republicans in Wisconsin occupy swing districts. Fourteen out of 19 GOP state senators preside over districts carried in 2008 by Obama.
Bottom line: If these recall drives continue to generate this kind of momentum, it will mean that even if Walker does get his way on bargaining rights, the fight will only continue, and could get even more intense as labor and the left shift their energy into knocking off senate Republicans. It seems the recall hounds may have been unleashed.