Fervor Of Wis. Debate Shifts To Recall Elections

Nearly a month after the Wisconsin standoff over union rights ended, some of the fervor from that debate has shifted to efforts to recall state lawmakers in both parties — Republicans who voted to cut back collective bargaining and Democrats who fled Wisconsin to try to stop them.

Organizers have been working on signature-gathering efforts, but of the 16 state senators who were originally targeted, only six appear likely to face a recall election. And organizers must find candidates to run against them.

One place where organizers don’t have to look is La Crosse, where Democratic Rep. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse announced her bid Saturday to unseat Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse.

Shilling is the first candidate to announce her candidacy in any of the possible recall efforts across the state.

“When the working families of the Coulee region needed Sen. Kapanke the most, he turned his back on them,” said Shilling. “Sen. Kapanke stopped listening to the people he was elected to serve, and it’s time to move in a new direction.”

Democrats have already filed recall petitions for Kapanke and GOP Sen. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac. State elections officials could hold recall elections as early as June, but elections officials will likely ask for more time to review signatures.

If elected, Shilling said her number one goal will be creating good local jobs and putting Wisconsin’s government back on the side of working families.

“I’m running because I want our children to grow up in a state that values good jobs, quality education, affordable health care, and respects working people and their families,” Shilling said. “Together, we can keep the Wisconsin dream alive, and put our government back on the side of the hardworking men and women who make this such a great place to live and raise a family.”

Despite the unlikelihood of widespread recall elections, voter outrage remains high in many places, helping to stir interest in the recalls.

Political science professor Michael Kraft of the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay said he thinks the efforts will encourage lawmakers to be more careful about what they say about the budget.