In less than a week, organizers of the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker say they have collected more than 100,000 signatures. Anticipating challenges to many signatures, organizers hope to collect one million over the 60-day collection period -- 540,000 are necessary to force a new election.
The recall effort, which is also targeting Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, is spearheaded by A United Wisconsin for the Recall of Scott Walker, a political action committee (PAC), and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
But on Friday, another PAC -- this one calling itself Recall Walker -- kicked off another petition drive to bolster the recall effort. It made its debut with a pep rally at the Barrymore Theater on Atwood Avenue, which drew more than 200 people.
For nearly two hours union leaders, lawmakers, entertainers and others preached to the choir about how Wisconsin must be wrested back from the regressive policies of the Walker administration.
Reciting from a long list of grievances compiled over the last 10 months, the speakers delivered the uniform and unequivocal message: Scott Walker has got to go.
"He does not see the problem; he does not feel the pain; this guy is out of touch," said Phil Neuenfeldt of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. "Governor Walker may have fooled us last November but the people of Wisconsin are waking up."
The message was peppered with regular jeers from the audience.
"He's a weasel!" said one. "Send him back to Colorado."
"He killed the train!" yelled another, referring to Walker's rejection of federal funds for building a high-speed rail line connecting Madison and Milwaukee.
State Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) spoke of the many people who, back in the day, fought or died for things that many workers today take for granted, such as a 40-hour workweek and weekends.
The father of two, with another on the way, said he wants to leave his children with a Wisconsin that values democracy and the rights of its citizens. "The recall process is the start of the healing process in Wisconsin politics," he said.
Mason said that concerns over recruiting enough volunteers large enough to collect one million signatures were quickly abated by the volume of people lining up to help. However, he cautioned that everyone must be willing to go the next step, which might be knocking on doors during the deep freeze of winter.
"Will the story I tell my kids be about how Wisconsin used to be or how people fought for their rights?" he said to rousing applause.
Walker, who is arguably the most detested and divisive Wisconsin politician since Joe McCarthy, has blamed out-of-state labor unions for pushing the recall effort. Walker successfully stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights earlier this year.
After announcing the union-busting Act 10 last February, tens of thousands of protestors spent weeks occupying the Capitol building, a form of protest that his been mimicked more recently in cities across the nation.
Recall organizers hope to build on the frustration and anger over Act 10, as well as the numerous other agenda items that Walker has pushed through the GOP-controlled Legislature, much of it done under the auspices of job creation.
Those gathered Friday night let it be known that they weren't going to take it anymore. Brian Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, had a warning for the governor, who could very well be the first in Wisconsin history to be booted from office.
"Governor Walker, the Constitution gave us a set of "tools'" he said, tweaking Walker who has said repeatedly that he has given school districts and local governments the "tools" they need to balance their budgets. "It's called a recall!"