Recalls could knock out nearly half the senate - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Recalls could knock out nearly half the senate


MADISON (WKOW) --  Recalls efforts have been launched against nearly half of the members of the state senate,  in the political fall out from the continuing budget stalemate and massive protests at the state capitol.

State Government Accountability Board spokesperson Reid Magney told WKOW27 News all sixteen senators eligible to be recalled are the subjects of recall efforts, with some recall initiatives still lacking necessary documentation, but expected to provide the required paperwork.   There are thirty three seats in the state senate.

Eight republicans and eight democrats are targeted for recall.   A year must pass after a senator is elected and takes office before a recall can be launched.

Organizers of recall efforts have sixty days to collect the necessary signatures to force a recall election.   The number of needed signatures is a percentage of the number of people who voted for governor in the most recent election in a senate district.

The number of signatures needed ranges from 11,817 to force a recall vote for Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) to 20,973 in the recall of Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin).

In the case of the targeted senate democrats, their flight to Illinois to avoid a vote on Governor Walker's budget repair bill is a motivating factor.

Web designer Jeff Horn of Deforest is organizing the recall effort against Sen. Mark Miller (D-Miller),  who is the senate minority leader.

Horn told WKOW27 News he has no history of political activism, but has been able to recruit about one hundred volunteers.   Horn said what started as more of an effort to get Miller's attention has morphed into work with a goal to get the needed signatures.

"Action needs to be taken."

While the recall efforts require the formal participation of at least one voter from the senator's district, individuals with no link to a senate district and out-of-state groups are getting involved.

Support for the governor's near-elimination of collective bargaining rights for public employees, and republican senators cutting off debate on the budget bill, are contributing factors to efforts to recall republican senators.   Peter Larson, who lists only a Madison post office box as an address, appears on formal papers in several of these recalls.   Hanson has yet to return a call for comment for WKOW27 News.

Recall efforts against several democratic senators, including Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) involve a Utah-based group.

Risser recall organizer Sharon Daniel of Madison acknowledged a lead role on the part of the Salt Lake City organization, but declined any further comment.

One of only two state senators to be successfully recalled in modern times in Wisconsin,  George Petak,  lost a recall election in 1996.   Petak (R-Racine) was targeted after voting for a five-county tax to support Miller Park, with Racine County included in the taxation.

When reached at his Nolensville, Tennessee home,  Petak said he believed recalls can be misguided.

"Unless there's some abdication of responsibility or some malfeasance in office,  I don't think a recall election is appropriate."

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