Tea Party Activists Ready to Submit Recall Petitions Against Wisconsin Democrats

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 19 2011 4:02 PM

Tea Party Activists Ready to Submit Recall Petitions Against Wisconsin Democrats

Wisconsin Democrats have been ringing alarm bells every time they submit a new batch of petitions to recall Republican state senators. Today they've announced something more than 15,744 signatures to recall Sheila Harsdorf -- the fourth senator on the block.

So what's happening with the Republican efforts to recall Democrats? After all, Republicans beat the Democrats to the punch, thanks to the zealousness of some Tea Party and conservative activists who kick-started the process in February. According to Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board, these petitions are due by April 25 or April 26 -- the Democrats, on average, have a whole extra week to gather signatures.

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How are the conservative activists doing? According to David VanderLeest, head of the campaign to recall Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen, activists have surpassed the 13,852 signature goal.

"I believe we're going to go and drive the petitions down there to Madison by the end of the week," said VanderLeest. "We've surpassed the total by a couple of thousand. We're just doing the administrative work now."

I've got calls out to other campaigns and will report how close they are. Don't be surprised to hear about a rush of petitions to recall Democrats in the next seven days.

Meanwhile, what's the meaning of that fourth petition to recall a Republican? According to the poll PPP conducted in the state last month, Harsdorf is the safest of the four Republicans on the block. When asked if they'd back her or back a Democrat, voters chose Harsdorf by a four-point margin. Luther Olsen trailed a Democrat by two points, Randy Hopper trailed by five, and Dan Kapanke by 14 points. The most likely outcome at this point, still, is a small Democratic win accompanied by defeats that keep the Senate in Republican hands. And that's before conservative money flows into the state to beat the Democrats.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.