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WI Watchdog: Walker Recall Ads Will Go Into the Gutter

November 14, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - On Tuesday, a group called United Wisconsin will file paperwork to begin getting the 540,208 signatures needed to force a recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. A Walker supporter filed earlier this month, a move which allowed Walker to begin collecting unlimited funds to fight the recall.

How much money will be collected and spent? Mike McCabe, executive director of the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, says it will likely exceed the amount collected this summer during the legislative recalls, which involved only one-third of the state.

"Every voter will be involved, and so it's hard to imagine that it won't be more than the $44 million seen this summer. How much more? That would take a crystal ball better than any I've got."

McCabe says some estimates have ranged as high as a $100 million. He adds that citizens can expect to see some pretty nasty advertising over the airwaves.

"I don't think there's any question that this election will get ugly, and people are going to be just about hiding out from their televisions by the time election day comes. I expect this one will go down into the gutter. That just seems to be the pattern, and emotions are running very high on both sides."

After recall backers file their paperwork, they will have 60 days to gather the half-million-plus signatures necessary to trigger the election.

McCabe says one of the most troubling aspects of the recall is that Walker will be able to raise unlimited funds to fight the effort to unseat him.

"If campaign contribution limits are in place for regular elections to try to protect against undo special interest influence and prevent political corruption, they ought to be in place for recall elections, as well. The need for those limits is just as great."

There have only been two successful gubernatorial recall elections in the nation's history: in 1921 in North Dakota and in 2003 in California. Many names have been mentioned as potential candidates to run against Walker, but no one has officially announced his or her candidacy.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI