Group Says It Has Names To Recall State Senate Leader

Organizers of a recall effort targeting state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said they’ve gathered enough signatures to force an election.

The group needs 16,742 names by Saturday in order to start the recall.

Lori Compas, the group’s chairwoman, called a news conference at the state Capitol on Friday to announce she had collected more than enough signatures, although she declined to reveal how many.

While organizers wouldn’t give an exact number of the names they’ve collected so, they insisted they had crossed the threshold of signatures needed. In a final push, organizers said on Friday they brought in more than 5,000 signatures in a week and a half.

“Somehow, this movement or campaign or whatever it is has grown from what some said was a crazy idea into a community of citizens who are taking positive action to regain their voice in the legislature,” said Compas, the effort’s committee chair.

Fitzgerald’s recall was part of an overall campaign to turn back Republican control of the state government. Democrats and their allies have been working for the last two months to gather enough signatures to force Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Fitzgerald and three other GOP senators into recall elections. The Democrats are angry over legislation Walker introduced that stripped most public workers of nearly all their union rights.

For many Capitol watchers, targeting Fitzgerald for recall at first seemed one of the less likely campaigns in the state that could succeed because the group got only marginal help from the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the recall organization targeting Walker.

In the last two weeks, however, the Fitzgerald recall effort did get an extra push from the liberal activist group, We Are Wisconsin. Kristen Crowell, executive director of We Are Wisconsin, said that a sense of common purpose brought the groups together.

“A blatant power grab united us around a common vision of a better Wisconsin,” said Crowell.

Fitzgerald wasn’t available for comment following the announcement, but on Thursday, he filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board. The complaint said the board was incorrectly allowing more than 60 days to gather signatures and should have required the lists to be turned in by 5 p.m. on Friday.

Recall organizers dismissed Fitzgerald’s contention.

“This just seems like an attempt to try and silence the thousands of people who have spoken up for this, and I’m not concerned about it at all,” said Compas.

The GAB released a memo from the state Department of Justice, saying organizers had until Saturday, Jan. 14 to collect signatures and can turn them in on Tuesday, Jan. 17, because of the weekend and the holiday.

Representatives for recall committees targeting Sens. Terry Moulton, Pam Galloway and Van Wanggaard declined to provide numbers, but said they had enough signatures to trigger elections with some cushion beyond their required numbers.

GAB officials planned to begin verification of the signatures next week.