Active recall committees (click to enlarge)
Today, Republican aligned groups submitted recall petitions against three Democratic state Senators. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin plans to challenge those petitions, alleging widespread misconduct in how they were collected. Dave Weigel posts a statement from the DPW about the basis of this challenge:
Without any real enthusiasm on the part of the citizens of the districts to support the anti-Wisconsin Walker agenda, the Republican recall racket was forced to rely on road agents from a Colorado firm and elsewhere, mercenaries from out-of-state who came in and were paid money per recall signature. The only real press that this practice got was the reporting on a Colorado canvasser with a dangerous felony record who was was preying on visitors to Lambeau Field and taking stolen items to a motel room paid for by Republicans. But that dangerous Colorado felon employed by the Republican Party was just the tip of the iceberg. At the heart of the Republican effort from the start was a mercenary spirit that naturally used deception and fraud to gain signatures.
In the coming days, you will see affidavits from citizens in these targeted districts who were deceived into signing petitions by Republican road agents who often refused to identify themselves with their real names. One example is circulators who would ask citizens who supported Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen, asking whether they'd like to see him on the ballot. They were deceived.
The Republican recall racket used unethical practices to gain signatures. In Burlington, for instance, a Republican canvasser offered patrons of a tavern shots of liquor in exchange for recall signatures against Sen. Bob Wirch. And in Green Bay, Republicans left recall signatures unattended with a sign that said, "Out to lunch," an unethical and forbidden practice.
I personally doubt this challenge will succeed because, well, most petition challenges fail. However, what I do know from being active in Philadelphia politics for a number of years is that you always challenge petitions. In Philly, successful petition challenges are the main cause of incumbent state legislators being defeated in primary elections. The simple truth is that not everyone gathering petitions is above the board, and as such you would be crazy to take a pass on a perfectly legal means of defeating your opponent in an upcoming election.
Petition challenges should never be the basis of an electoral strategy, and we should all be prepared for at least nine recall elections to take place in Wisconsin over the summer. However, it is by no means impossible that at least one of the recall petitions filed by Republicans will be tossed due to irregularities. By contrast, given that Democrats used an all-volunteer petition gathering corps, and that they filed a higher percentage of required signatures than Republicans, all the petitions they filed should be safe.
Remember to thank the volunteers who gathered recall petition signatures against Wisconsin Republicans.
For more discussion on the upcoming petition challenges, check out the dairies by jsamuel and blue aardvark on the rec list.