MADISON, Wis. - The people of Wisconsin today submitted over a million signatures on petitions to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, 460,000 more than the 540,208 needed to trigger a recall election.
This kicks off yet another phase of the massive fight by workers and their allies here to restore union rights that were crushed by GOP lawmakers last year.
The governor and his party rammed through a law that abolished the rights of public employees to collectively bargain and to live a decent middle class life, unions and their allies say.
A recent report says that Walker's policies are killing 18,000 jobs a year in Wisconsin.
The total number of recall signatures submitted, 1,000,208 is nearly equal to the 1,128,159 votes Walker received when he was elected in 2010.
"There is no question about it. Wisconsinites want to recall Gov. Walker in order to put an end to his disastrous agenda and stop his attacks on working families," said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, the federation's blog reported. He accused Walker of "putting corporate allies above the people of Wisconsin."
Stephanie Bloomingdale, the state AFL-CIO secretary treasurer, said, "This is a governor who crippled the rights of workers, raised taxes on the poor, compromised our children's education and made it harder for Wisconsinites to vote."
"For sixty days union and community members have organized at union halls, grocery stores and bowling allies around the state" to recall Walker and those who "walk in lock-step" with him, she said.
Unions and their allies also turned in 123 percent of the number of signatures required to recall Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who has been believed to be one of the most difficult leaders to recall.
In addition they filed 845,000 signatures to trigger a recall against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, also a Republican, and enough to recall four Republican state senators, according to Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate.
Last summer workers and their allies recalled two Republicans who had voted to kill union rights and fell just one short of flipping control of the state Senate back to the Democrats.
The move against Walker had to wait because the governor was not eligible for recall until this year.
The recall votes last summer had Republicans worrying already then. According to the New York Times' Nate Silver, if last summer's recall had been a statewide vote, the results would have been too close to call.
Activists are thrilled about the huge number of signatures that have been collected, providing a substantial buffer that will protect the recall after any invalid signatures have been thrown out by the Government Accountability Board.
Republicans tried to brush off the huge accomplishment.
"We had no doubt the Democrats would be able to rally their left-wing supporters around this baseless and expensive recall effort," said Brad Courtney, chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Walker was not in the state Tuesday but in New York where he was raising funds to fight the recall.
Photo: One million strong to recall Scott Walker! Wisconsin State AFL-CIO