MILWAUKEE - With more than two weeks to go until the final deadline for gathering names, the labor-backed campaign to recall anti-worker GOP Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin reached its needed minimum of 508,240 signatures.
But organizers want to send at least 720,277 names to the state by the deadline, Jan. 17, both as a show of strength and to provide a cushion should officials disallow some of the signatures. Organizers garnered the minimum in just over a month.
"Wow!" the state AFL-CIO said on its blog. "If everyone pitches in we will have the grassroots people empowered to combat Walker's big moneyed corporate backers like the Koch Brothers.
"A new report released by the Institute for Wisconsin's Future shows that the ripple effects of Walker's policies will cost Wisconsin over 18,000 full-time, private sector jobs a year. This report is a stark reminder of why we must recall Walker," the AFL-CIO added on its website. "In Wisconsin, we need jobs, not a governor who puts corporate special interests above the 99 percent."
The Walker recall is the latest stage in Wisconsin, and a top stage nationally, in labor's fight-back campaign against the national war on workers being waged by the Right Wing, their business backers, and political puppets, most of whom are Republicans.
Prior stages in Wisconsin were the battle over Walker's legislation-killing collective bargaining - under the guise of budget-cutting - for 200,000 state and local government employees, and the recall of two GOP Wisconsin state senators who provided key votes in the legislature to pass Walker's union-busting bill.
Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt told Press Associates Union News Service that he's not surprised that Walker is trying to distort his own record. "Our challenge will be to get the message out" about the harm to workers and Wisconsin from Walker's law "when he's got millions of dollars to misrepresent it," Neuenfeldt said. Walker and his allies have spent at least $3 million so far.
Once the petition drive ends and the recall is certified, labor and its political allies face another task: Finding a credible foe to oppose Walker on the recall ballot. Names mentioned include former Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold, who narrowly lost his seat in the 2010 GOP sweep, and former House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, who retired from Congress that year after 41 years.
Neuenfeldt said it's too early for specific names, but labor has one criterion for Walker's foe: "We're going to look for the person who is strongest in restoring the workers rights that were taken away."