In another sign that the Wisconsin GOP’s quick passage of the bill to roll back bargaining rights is only causing the fight to escalate, Dems have now collected over 45 percent of the signatures necessary to hold recall elections for eight GOP state senators, the Wisconsin Democratic Party tells me.
Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.
In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the alloted time remaining.
Though the national media has largely treated the Wisconsin story as resolved, now that Republicans used a procedural maneuver to pass Scott Walker’s measure, the new signature numbers suggest the GOP’s maneuver may only be giving more momentum to the recall drives. The recall fight has drawn the attention of national Dems, who are keeping attention on the battle in hopes that it will have ramifications in the 2012 Congressional and presidential elections, by galvanizing the Dem base, persuading independents that the GOP has overreached, and reawakening the affection of blue collar whites for unions.
Some will insist that these numbers are unreliable, because they are coming from Dems. But if they did cook the numbers, such exaggerations would quickly become apparent if they fell well short of their goals by the deadline. (Republicans are refusing to reveal the amount of signatures they’ve collected to recall Dems.) What’s more, these signatures numbers claimed by Dems mirror other indicators of enthusiasm: Dems and labor continue to raise money for the recall drives at a dizzying clip, and a huge rally amassed in Madison over the weekend.
According to Wisconsin Dem spokesman Zielinski, Dems are ahead of pace in signature gathering in every single one of the eight districts being targteted, and in three of the districts, Dems have well over 50 percent of the number required.
Some caveats: The last half of signatures is far harder to collect than the first half. Dems will want to collect well over 100 percent of the number required as a cushion against signatures getting tossed out. We don’t yet know which of the districts Dems are ahead in and whether they correspond with the districts where a recall election has a plausible chance of dislodging the GOP officeholder. It could also become harder to sustain momentum in the weeks ahead. But for now, Dems and labor are very pleased indeed with the progress they continue to make.