The petition process to recall Gov. Scott Walker began Tuesday, although Democrats have yet to find a candidate to run against him.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin launched its recall campaign against Gov. Walker at midnight Monday with a variety of themed events to celebrate the effort’s kickoff.
A local recall party took place at Hawk’s Grill and Bar on State Street. United Wisconsin, an independent grassroots organization, held a pajama-themed social event at the bar to commemorate “the beginning of a historic journey,” according to spokesperson Erik Kirkstein.
“The people of Wisconsin have been waiting for this for months,” Kirkstein said. “This is the culmination of citizens all across the state, and we can’t wait to recognize them and start [the recall] off on the right track.”
Wisconsinites interested in participating in Walker’s recall were able to sign petitions beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday at United Wisconsin’s event and at similar events across the state.
According to Kirkstein, United Wisconsin was created for the sole purpose of bringing about a “successful” recall of Walker. The organization operates separately from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin or unions in the state, though they do hold partnerships with both the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party.
Democrats still lack a candidate expressing interest in running against the governor in the potential recall election. Two of Wisconsin’s more well-known Democrats, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, have both publicly stated they do not have intentions of running during the 2012 election.
Graeme Zielinski, DPW spokesperson, said the Democrats would not focus on finding candidates until after the recall petition efforts are complete.
“A recall election hasn’t been triggered, so you can’t put the cart before the horse,” Zielinski said. “The process will work itself out. There are plenty of worthy successors to Scott Walker. You don’t need to have a candidate to know that people want him recalled. Now is not the time; now is the time to collect 540,000 signatures.”
The GOP launched a website Monday called the Recall Integrity Center that allows citizens to report petition fraud. A statement from the party said it launched the website to protect the integrity of the signature gathering process.
RPW spokesperson Nicole Larson said in an email to The Badger Herald that the website will provide Wisconsin voters with a sense of security in the signature collecting process.
“The Republican grassroots in Wisconsin proved to be among the best in the nation during the 2010 elections and will continue to stand with Gov. Walker and his common sense reforms,” Larson said.
The site lists several ways to report fraud, including calling the center and reporting the fraud, posting videos or photos and submitting a formal incident report.
Mike Mikalsen, spokesperson for Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said fraud in Wisconsin elections has not happened regularly in the past except in local races and petitions.
Zielinski said the GOP’s website was created with the purpose to intimidate people who were attempting to practice democracy.
“If the Republicans are serious about integrity, they wouldn’t have run the dirtiest political operation the state has ever seen in the recall elections this summer,” said Zielinski. “So for them to all of a sudden say they are defenders of integrity is total bunk.”
According to a statement from United Wisconsin, the integrity of their own website was compromised Monday afternoon as the site fell victim to a cyber attack that the organization said may still be ongoing.
“Our web team reports that this attack was coordinated and deliberate,” the statement said. “Clearly this was done to deny the people of Wisconsin access to the materials we are providing for the Walker recall efforts in less than 24 hours.”
United Wisconsin is reporting the attack to the FBI and the Wisconsin attorney general, the statement said.
- Deputy State Editor Leah Linscheid contributed to this story.