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Timing key to recall effort

By Matt Pommer

Did Democrats make a mistake in opting for an early effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker?

The choices were next spring or autumn. Those arguing for an early effort cited the ongoing enthusiasm for ousting the freshman governor.

But conservative forces usually win spring elections, according to those seeking a later recall effort.

The nonpartisan April elections usually are devoid of significant controversy.

It would seem an April recall election would be great timing for Walker and Republicans. That’s assuming his foes even can get enough signatures to trigger the recall election.

An image of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is broadcast above the stage at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Walker was addressing hundreds of members of a commerce group. Democrats may have make a mistake in an early effort to recall the governor. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde)

At this point, there is no clear indication who would be the Democratic standard-bearer in a recall election. Among the politicians prominently mentioned as the potential opponent against Walker are former Congressman David Obey, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach. Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold has said he won’t run.

Obey, 73, who represented northern Wisconsin in the House of Representatives for 42 years, calls himself a La Follette Progressive. Although an outspoken liberal, he has been supported by the National Rifle Association. His congressional service includes six years as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Republicans would use that to accuse him of being a big spender.

Obey was a major critic of Republican national economics, such as going to war while cutting taxes.

He is very capable of talking taxes and politics on the stump.

Falk, now 60, was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2006, losing to J.B. Van Hollen by 8,859 votes. From 1983 to 1997, she was the public intervenor prosecuting pollution cases. She ran third in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary and was Dane County executive for more than a decade.

Her experience in environmental matters could be a plus given Walker’s bid to change environmental permitting procedures and how the Department of Natural Resources operates.

Erpenbach, 50, has been a minority leader and perhaps is best known around the state for sponsoring the no-call telephone solicitation law. He was one of the 14 senators who fled Wisconsin this year to slow Walker’s collective bargaining legislation.

It allowed time to focus on the issue across the state. Republicans would make Erpenbachís brief flight to Illinois a key issue against him.

History is dotted with efforts by legislators of assorted parties to head off actions. Among the legislators who engaged in those sorts of efforts in the 19th century was a Whig Party lawmaker who jumped out of a second-floor window to try to avoid a quorum vote.

Like the Wisconsin Democratic senators, he failed.

The jump didn’t end his political career. The Illinois legislator was Abraham Lincoln.

Matt Pommer worked as reporter in Madison for 35 years. He comments on state political and policy issues.

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One comment

  1. There is a critical reason for launching a recall now rather than waiting, and that is the continuing damage done to the state through the people appointed by Walker. A new governor will appoint people who are more attuned to the needs of the state — more interested in preserving the environment rather than selling it to developers, more interested in finding alternatives to the ever-expanding road building, more interested in serving the little guy rather than big business, and less interested in legislating social policy than planning economic development.

    That’s why I support the recall as soon as possible.

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