The dates for the recall elections have been set in Wisconsin giving voters their chance to punish legislators for last winter's debacle.
UPDATE: Tuesday June 14, 2011 The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled today that the labor union-collective bargaining legislation that sparked the call for the removal of state senators, must take effect. The highest court in the state lifted the temporary stay imposed by a local county judge after Democrats filed for the restraining order. The full story, here. Original story follows:
After the signatures were verified on the recall petitions, three Democrats and nine Republicans were qualified to be put on the ballot next month.
The Republicans face their election on July 12 and the Democrats one week later on July 19. It is on those dates that Wisconsin voters will have their referendum on the legislators' stance taken during the fight about collective bargaining legislation aimed at unionized civil service employees.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that although there was a pledge not to sue to stop the elections, six state senators have done so. Their reasons range from believing they shouldn't occur at all, to the hope that if they delay the vote, there will be more time available to sway voters to their side.
There is another strategy ready to be executed if the lawsuits don't bring the desired result. If multiple candidates are on the ballot opposite the senator being recalled, the general election becomes a primary. It would push the general election back one month.
Republicans spoke openly about running "fake" Democrats against their party's senators on the recall ballot to bring the desired result. The GOP doesn't have to manufacture members of their own party to run against the Democrats.
Both parties sought to keep their members off the ballots in the first place by vigorous challenges to the signatures gathered on the petitions as well as the petitions themselves. Democrats only succeeded in removing a couple hundred signatures from the thousands gathered after they charged the GOP with fraud.
That claim was based on one solicitor who gathered signatures by telling Wisconsin citizens they were supporting things such as good education in the state and other hard to criticize causes. The state agency charged with examining petitions and signatures decided that one volunteer's mischaracterization of the purpose for the signatures was insufficient to invalidate the recall elections of three Democrats.
The reason for all of this hullabaloo is the divisive legislation championed by Governor Scott Walker that severely limited the rights of state unions to bargain for their wages and other benefits under their union umbrella. With a Republican majority in the legislature it was sure to pass and Democrats seemed paralyzed by the enormity of their task to oppose it.
They solved that by fleeing the state. Fourteen Democratic Senators reportedly crossed the Wisconsin border to Illinois to deny the Republicans a quorum in the senate chamber. They remained there for more than two weeks as citizens of Wisconsin staged a relatively peaceful protest that saw them setting up camp in and around the state capitol building.
Governor Walker got around the necessity of a quorum by stripping the collective bargain elements out of the state's budget plan to allow for a separate vote on the matter. A new bill was drafted and it came up for a vote, which all knew would send it to the governor for signature.
The recall elections are an inevitability. The only open question is the date for voting.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons Scott Walker, 2010