Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got out in front of the Democratic and union efforts to recall him, kicking off an ad campaign on what arguably is the biggest stage in the Badger State: during the Monday night football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.
And the freshman Republican governor obviously would like to fare as well against the recall as the Packers did in trouncing the Vikings 45-7 to remain undefeated. Hot-streaking Aaron Rodgers led the world champions to their ninth win as they bruised the purple players and sent them packing back to their neighboring state — just as the state’s main Republican signal-caller would like to do with the outside interests that injected themselves into Wisconsin politics during the summer.
The ad, titled "Working Together," is part of the Walker campaign’s buy of $300,000 worth of air time between Monday and Sunday to tackle the recall effort, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s No Quarter blog
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The ad features Waukesha School Board member Karin Rajnicek saying, “We were worried when the state budget was gonna mean less money for our school district — and we have 25 schools. But Governor Walker — he gave us options that reduced our biggest costs, so that we could put more money back into our classrooms.”
The commercial segues to Walker, who declares: “I’m committed to working together, to create more jobs, to improve our schools, and to protect our seniors. You know, Wisconsin’s best days are yet to come. It won’t happen overnight, but we are on our way.”
Walker’s campaign ran the ad during the game as an end around to the recall effort, which opponents launched at midnight. Anti-Walker factions had pajama parties and other events throughout the night to begin gathering the more than 540,000 signatures they need to recall him because they object to his budget-cutting measures, including removing public employees’ collective-bargaining rights.
Breaking the total down, Walker opponents have 60 days to gather the half-million-plus signatures, so they must get 9,000 John Hancocks a day to meet the deadline.
And the governor isn’t the only recall target. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefsich and perhaps four Republican state senators also are expected to face recalls before the dust settles on the playing field. Two GOP state senators were defeated in multimillion-dollar recall elections, which featured millions of dollars from Democrats and unions outside the state, during the summer because of their support for Walker’s budget measures. Three other Republicans retained their seats to maintain the one-seat GOP majority in the Senate; Republicans also control the Assembly.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Monday he expects to be targeted for recall, in addition to three of his colleagues who defeated Democratic incumbents last year. Democrats said they planned to start recalls against Sens. Van Wanggaard of Racine, Pam Galloway of Wausau, and Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls.
Although today is the day Walker opponents had set to start their petition engines, one of his supporters beat them to the punch on Nov. 4, the first day a recall effort could be filed with the state. Democrats cried foul, alleging that the donor’s action allowed Walker to begin raising money to fight the recall even then, as Newsmax reported at the time
As for Walker himself, he vowed Monday that he wouldn’t let the recall effort distract him from focusing on his 2010 campaign pledge to increase the number jobs in the state by 250,000 before the four-year term he was elected to serve is over. He defended his record, saying that voters are ready to move forward without being sucked into in an endless campaign cycle.
"We've made a lot of progress," Walker said. "It's a new day in Wisconsin."
Governors have been recalled from office only twice in U.S. history, in North Dakota in 1921 and in California when voters removed Gov. Gray Davis from office in 2003.
"Any recall attempts filed will be nothing more than a shameless power grab by the Democrats and their liberal special interests, and will not deter Republicans from moving the state forward under responsible leadership," Republican Party spokeswoman Nicole Larson said Monday.
Democrats have not announced a candidate to challenge Walker if they collect enough signatures to force an election. The earliest date at which such an election could occur is March 27. Most expect that any election take place later in the spring or in the summer.
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