Signatures due next week in recall efforts against Wisconsin governor, lieutenant governor

Supporters of the efforts to recall Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) have until October 27 to submit 668,327 signatures for each of the petitions to require a recall election. Both recall efforts are being organized by Misty Polewczynski.

Polewczynski told the Racine Journal Times on October 15 that supporters had collected more than 620,000 signatures. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, statements made by Polewczynski in a Facebook post that has since been removed, cast doubt on her claim on the number of signatures that have been collected. When asked about the number of signatures that she provided to the media, she said in the social media post, “I would not pay attention to that number given to them! Sometimes any press is better than no press.”

Polewczynski began the recall efforts against Evers and Barnes in August. Both recall petitions criticize Wisconsin’s governor and lieutenant governor over their responses to the coronavirus pandemic and over the violence and protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Courtney Beyer, the spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said about the recall efforts, “Trying to recall a governor with a 57% job approval rating in the midst of a global pandemic and civil unrest is irresponsible and absurd.”

Conservative commentator James Wigderson wrote in August about the governor recall, “…recalling Evers should not be attempted because it’s the wrong thing to do.” He went on to say, “One of the reasons Republicans were so successful in fighting the recall elections after Act 10 is that the public correctly perceived that it was an attempt to undo the previous election. Republicans made the case that recalls should only be used in very limited circumstances to get rid of politicians who were corrupt and using the office for their benefit.”

Wisconsin is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by an 18-13 margin with two vacancies and the state House by a 63-34 margin with two vacancies. Evers was elected as Wisconsin’s governor in 2018 with 49.5% of the vote. Barnes ran on a joint ticket with Evers in the election.

Seventeen gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. Nine of those efforts are against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

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