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Online Walker recall drive hits the ground to build momentum

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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: March 17, 2011, 01:13:56 pm »

Grass Roots: Online Walker recall drive hits the ground to build momentum



Protesters got creative in calling for Gov. Scott Walker's ouster during demonstrations at the Capitol in Madison.
 PAT SCHNEIDER

PAT SCHNEIDER | The Capital Times | pschneider@madison.com madison.com | (30) Comments | Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 7:45 am


United Wisconsin, an online campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker with more than 162,000 pledges of support on its website, is launching a ground campaign, says its founder, Michael Brown.

"We want to be aggressive with this, we want to be on the ground," Brown tells a gathering of about 70 supporters Tuesday night who packed a meeting room at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center in Madison. It was the first of what he envisions as a series of meetings in Wisconsin cities to build an organization to recall Walker after polarizing political maneuvers stripping public workers of collective bargaining rights and the introduction of a controversial budget that critics call ruthless in its cuts to schools and assistance programs.

United Wisconsin's goal now is to collect signatures of 700,000 qualified electors statewide - well over the 540,208 signatures needed to trigger a recall election for the governor's seat. Since a recall election can't be held until Walker marks his one-year anniversary in office, and petitions can circulate for only 60 days, amassing support now is about sending Walker a message, Brown says.

 "Do you think that would change the game a bit? Do you think Scott Walker would listen to us?" he asks. "No!" comes a retort from the crowd. Walker's disregard for public demonstrations of opposition has been so unyielding that the wisecrack is as chilling as it is funny. But still, eager activists have come to the neighborhood center from as far as Rock County to be part of a movement to recall a governor. The number of on-line sign-ups is stunning, but it is soon clear that the campaign already has more signatures than it knows what to do with. So far at least.

The ability to send mass emails to supporters, strategies for on-line marketing, and practical coordination with other groups working to recall Walker are capacities still to be developed, the group learns.

The website has links to One Wisconsin Now, Stop Walker's Budget, Defending Wisconsin, Defend Wisconsin , as well as to Recall the Republican 8, although effective practical coalitions have not been built. Brown is determined, too, to keep United Wisconsin focused on recalling Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, while drives to unseat eight senate Republicans now vulnerable to recall under state law proceed separately.

Brown, of Appleton, who made a brief run for the 57th District Assembly seat last year as an independent, says he's determined to keep the recall a grass-roots effort. No partisan politics.

"This is a movement of the people," Brown, who has been heading a one-man operation with a couple of volunteers, says in an interview as his prospective volunteers brainstorm on strategy. Consensus decision-making on even the structure of the organization "is what democracy is all about," he says.

 Brown has formed a political action committee and says fundraising through donations at the website is going well. He claims not to be intimidated by deep pockets sure to counter Walker recall efforts. "There is not enough money to silence our voice," he says.

There's no mistaking the real enthusiasm in the room. But one man with ties to local organized labor, and does not want his name used, confides to me that he is surprised at just how grass roots the effort is. I'm a little surprised, too. United Wisconsin truly is trying to build a movement from the ground up -- with no foundation but a website. But maybe that's the way real grass-roots movements are  built.

There's no shortage of ideas at the community meeting. Prospective volunteers suggest tapping the existing structure and ready hands of labor unions, communities of faith, social groups and community organizations; hitting farmers markets and other public events; broadcasting on radio and in other media; hosting house parties; canvassing door to door.

The recall drive also needs fliers, bumper stickers, billboards, a logo, a sign-up-a-friend campaign, they say.

And structure - some kind of structure to organize the efforts of volunteers. "We're running before we know where we're going," cried one in exasperation.  Another remarked that so many clipboards seeking signatures are making the rounds at protests that people aren't sure what they are signing. "Coordinating things is very important," says "Ben," who will give only his first name.

Others were optimistic. Recalling Walker definitely is possible, says Paul Sager of Madison, who believes the successful ousting of several of the eight Republican state senators targeted for recall is an important stage-setter to build enthusiasm and a can-do attitude for a statewide effort. "It's all about confidence," he says.

http://host.madison.com/ct/blogs/article_f44e9a50-4feb-11e0-bd7d-001cc4c002e0.html
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Lisa Wolfe
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 01:15:41 pm »

http://www.unitedwisconsin.com/

http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/

http://stopwalkersbudget.org/

http://defendingwisconsin.org/

http://www.defendwisconsin.org/

http://www.recalltherepublican8.com/
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