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Wis. union debate shifts to recall threats

Associated Press / April 11, 2011

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

Now that the law has passed, organizers are focusing on signature-gathering efforts. But of the 16 state senators who were originally targeted, only six appear likely to face an election threatening removal. And before recall elections can be held, supporters need to find candidates to run against the incumbents.

Still, voter outrage remains high in many places, helping to stir interest in the recalls.

Last week, Democrats filed their first petition to try to recall a GOP senator who supported Governor Scott Walker’s law, which eliminated collective bargaining for most public employees.

Senator Dan Kapanke of La Crosse represents a Democratic-leaning district in western Wisconsin. Two other Republican senators and three Democrats also face probable recall elections.

At first, the recall efforts were a sideshow to the larger political battle unfolding in Madison. But depending on how many recall elections take place and how many incumbents, if any, are kicked out, the process could profoundly affect Walker’s agenda.

If Republicans lose just three seats, they would give up their 19-14 majority and with it the power that allowed them to aggressively push the legislation through despite ear-splitting protests that drew tens of thousands of protesters to the Capitol.

Walker signed the measure March 11. It is being challenged in court.

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