Wisconsin recall: How powerful super PACs could influence the battle
The campaign to recall Wisconsin's governor began Tuesday in earnest. A major supporter of the effort is a super PAC, a political entity that allows unlimited sums of money to flow into politics.
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Walker is allowed to accept unlimited political donations to mount a defense. His first television ad aired during the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Walker’s total television spending for this week alone is over $300,000.Skip to next paragraph
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Recall organizers have 60 days to get the signatures, and Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board has until Feb. 17 to review the petitions. If they are verified, the earliest an election can take place is March 27, although most agree that it will likely take place in May. However, before any election date is set, legal challenges are expected on both sides, which could push the date later into the year and closer to the presidential election.
The obvious downside of asking voters to recall a sitting governor a few months before a national election is money, says Jacobs. Even though the super PACs are not directly affiliated with a political party, the national party leaders may want their money reserved for larger fights.
“The party leaders may want that money dumped into a race with a higher probable outcome where they may have more of a shot,” he says.
The narrow time window to collect the signatures is already straining both sides.
The state Republican Party released a statement before the rally outside Walker’s family home describing it as “shameless” harassment. Republicans also launched a special website dedicated to reporting “fraudulent activity” involving the recall, which allows people to upload videos, recordings, photos, and other material that they say will be reviewed by retired law-enforcement officials.
On the other side, United Wisconsin blames the opposition for a cyberattack Monday that crashed the organization’s website for a few hours.
The recall effort is also targeting four Republican state senators: Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Pam Galloway of Wausau, Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls, and Van Wanggaard of Racine. State Republican leaders are undecided about whether or not to mount recall petition drives of their own to target incumbent Democrats.
It is not yet certain if Wisconsinites are suffering from recall fatigue – polls show about an even split in support of a Walker recall. To date, only two US governors have been recalled from office in the past 90 years.
“A recall election is extreme and it’s meant to be extreme,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Mr. Sabato is betting against a successful recall of Walker simply because voters may not see the urgency in a presidential year.
“The criticisms against him may be a great reason to work against him if you opposed what he did, but the reason recalls rarely succeed is they’re fundamentally upsetting the democratic apple cart,” he says. “We have fixed terms for a reason and people see that.”
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