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Jan 17 / Elizabeth DiNovella

Wisconsin Moves Forward with Walker Recall

A few hundred Wisconsinites braved the frigid cold to witness history in the making this afternoon, as more than one million signatures asking for the recall of Governor Scott Walker were dropped off at the Government Accountability Office in downtown Madison.

It took more than an hour to unload the petitions, which were crammed into the rental van. As box after box was brought inside the building, people cheered. The protests were marked by the same creativity that I saw in last year’s historic protests. There were heart balloons and vuvuzelas, homemade signs and a huge Walker puppet. Members of the Forward Marching Band played their instruments on the sidewalk. Everyone was in high spirits. I overheard one woman say she drove down six hours to get here but it was worth it.

It was the opposite of yesterday when everyone in town seemed so mopey after the Packers lost. Today, it felt like victory.

 

In the crowd I caught up with Jan Moore from Sun Prairie. When I spoke to Moore in November, on the eve of recall efforts, he said and his fellow volunteers hoped to collect 6,000 signatures. Today, Moore told me they collected more than 8,000.

How did they do that? It all came down to people power. They had people working three shifts a day, twelve hours a day, seven days a week. They had an office, and they also collected signatures in the town square and near the library.

Ben Jenkel was one of the hardy volunteers who made this recall possible. Jenkel has lived in Sun Prairie for five years, though he grew up further north in the state. Jenkel works in at the NBC affiliate as an editor for the morning show. He works 2 a.m. til 11:30 am and then he heads out to collect signatures from 1-5 p.m.

Jenkel set a personal goal of getting 500 signatures and ended up collecting 485. “My dad gave me stomach flu for Christmas, he says, “I would’ve made my goal if I wasn’t sick that week.”

And how does he feel today?

“It’s so exciting.” Jenkel said. “We started this in February, marching in the cold. Now we are back, marching in the cold.”

Madison Protest

Moore and Jenkel joked about all the names they had been called while they were collecting signatures. People would drive by and taunt them, saying things such as “Get a job!” and “Pay your fair share!”

There have been reports from all over the state about people flipping recall vounteers the bird, and Sun Prairie was no exception.

“I got flipped off more times than if I lived a thousand lifetimes,” said Jenkel. “But we also got thumbs up, too.”

“And hot chocolate,” chimed in Moore.

And where was Governor Walker today? He was in New York City, at a fundraiser hosted by Hank Greenberg, founder of financial services group AIG. The man who decried out of state influence is himself out of the state, raising money.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is throwing a party tonight in Madison to celebrate today’s milestone.

Jan Moore is definitely going to celebrate. “It’s a great day for democracy,” he said.

 

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