Wisconsin politics is in quite a busy stretch. In the span of little more than five days the Government Accountability Board finalized the verification of the recall signatures, a Federal judge dismissed parts of Act 10, otherwise known as the “collective bargaining” bill, and the State’s Republican Presidential primary is being held.
On Friday (3/30/12), the Government Accountability Board released the findings of its verification efforts of the recall effort against Governor Scott Walker. The GAB reported that 900,939 valid signatures were collected, with 30,114 signatures being stricken, 5 of which used fake names. Similar signatures were collected for the recall effort against Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and totaled 808,990 signatures. The total number required for a recall election was 540,208. The GAB also released a statement stating that the recall election will be scheduled to take place on May 8th, acting as a primary date if need be, with the final date being June 5th. Current GAB estimates place the cost of a statewide recall at just over $9 million. To date three candidates have stepped forward as potential Democratic challengers in the recall election. This includes former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, current Secretary of State-Doug La Follette, and Milwaukee Mayor-Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010.
On a related note the Western District Court of Wisconsin struck down provisions of Act 10. The union plaintiffs challenged the law on Equal Protection and First Amendment grounds. The Court found that: “so long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights.” In effect the State can restrict the rights of unions to bargain on base wages only, but it cannot force unions to re-certify every year, nor can it prohibit the mandatory deduction of dues from employee payroll-checks. Both sides are claiming victory in the ruling.
Last, the State is getting ready to hold its Republican Primary on Tuesday. Candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul are canvassing the state, with Ron Paul visiting the University of Wisconsin. Romney currently holds leads in both delegates and in national polls and has garnered an endorsement from Rep. Paul Ryan.