MADISON, Wis. – A recall election was officially ordered Friday against embattled first-term Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker after more than 900,000 signatures were collected on petitions to force a vote.
The Government Accountability Board voted 5-0 to order the recall, a move that has been expected for weeks given the high number of signatures gathered between November and January. It took 540,208 signatures to trigger a recall.
Assuming a Democratic primary is necessary, it will be May 8. The actual recall vote then will be June 5. Three Democrats already have announced they are running and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, whom Walker defeated in 2010, has said he would announce his intentions before Tuesday.
There have been only two successful gubernatorial recalls in U.S. history, against California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.
Walker was targeted for recall after he pushed through a law last year that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most state workers. It also forced the workers to contribute more to their pension and health care costs, which amounted to a cut in pay.
Walker argued the changes were needed to help balance the state's budget, while Democrats and other opponents said the true intention was to weaken the power of unions, which have traditionally opposed Republicans.
A passionate fight ensued in Wisconsin, the first state to enact a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees.
Protests raged for weeks and grew as large as 100,000 people. But Walker and Republicans who controlled the Legislature never wavered and they passed the law even though all 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois in a failed attempt to block it.