As Wisconsin’s legislators speak out for the budget repair bill and in some cases flee the state in an attempt to stall it, citizens of the state have voiced their displeasure by filing recall petitions against senators on both sides of the aisle, and some risk a real chance of being removed.
Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, beat out his challenger by only 184 votes. The next at risk senator is Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who won with 50 percent of the vote. Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, and Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, beat challengers with less than a 2,800-vote margin.
Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, could also be at risk as the divide between Democrats and Republican voters in his district is close to even when looking at results from the gubernatorial election. Gov. Scott Walker won Kapanke’s district with just 0.7 percent more votes than Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the November elections.
Eight other senators – four Republicans and four Democrats – face recall petitions as well, though they won their districts handily.
Papers to recall Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Pleasant Prairie, have been filed with the Government Accountability Board. Wirch won his district with 27,563 more votes than the challenger.
But spokesperson for the campaign to recall Wirch, Dan Hunt, said he had thousands of signatures from Wirch’s constituents and said Wirch had only himself to blame.
“This is an egregious act by 14 senators in the government who have chosen to leave and not do the business of the state. I would never be leading this recall effort if he wouldn’t have left the state,” Hunt said.
Hunt and other recall campaign leaders face a deadline of 60 days to get the required amount of signatures to force a special recall election, GAB Director Reid Magney said.
In order for the petitions to be valid, they must contain enough signatures to represent 25 percent of a senator’s constituency.
Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, has a recall petition against her but was not challenged in 2008, and Walker won her district with more than 68 percent of the vote.
The recall has not changed Lazich’s stance toward the budget repair bill that she said contains necessary tools to help state and local governments deal with the cuts in Walker’s newly proposed budget.
Although not risking a recall, Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said the petitions have not caused his colleagues in exile to consider returning home to Wisconsin.
Risser said the recalls would not change his mind, adding they were a waste of time.