Previously: Wisconsin: in the trenches for the recall of Gov. Scott Walker (r) (December 19, 2011)
Proponents of the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (r) have collected over 500,000 signatures toward their goal of 720,000 to initiate a recall election.
Inside the Wisconsin Democratic Party Recall Walker Dane County East Main Office in Madison.
This morning we drove to the Wisconsin Democratic Party recall headquarters a few blocks from the state capitol building in Madison. We spoke with Jim Roseberry, a volunteer working for the recall effort:
Show Me Progress: How long have you been working on the, this, uh, recall process?
Jim Roseberry: From the start. In fact, I was, uh, pretty active during the demonstrations.
Show Me Progress: In, in, the demonstrations precipitated the recall process for you?
Jim Roseberry: Uh, his [Governor Scott Walker] comments about the budget repair bill, uh, made me want to consider that as a possibility. And then more and more as we started to occupy the Capitol and make our political point of view known that became more and more, uh, a reasonable course of action in my mind.
Show Me Progress: And so how soon after the, uh, the movement at the Capitol with the demonstrations did the, uh, recall become, uh, a, a practical reality, as things started to get rolling?
Jim Roseberry: Well, for me, uh, it’s, it was a continuous thread. Uh, when finally the fourteen [Democratic state senators] came back and the legislation was passed and the protests subsided, although there were people who kept, still went into the Capitol to make their presence known. Uh, I didn’t see any break. You know, I, I, we were basically waiting for November fifteenth. And there were many of us who were actively organized and getting that going, so…
Jim Roseberry, a volunteer in the effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (r).
A sidewalk sandwich board in front of a shop on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin.
…Show Me Progress: As, as you’ve gone through this process have you been surprised by, um, the, the, the quick volume of signatures?
Jim Roseberry: Yes, uh, having no experience in recalling, uh, politicians. Uh, it’s all new to me and I’ve been amazed by the, uh, groundswell of support and the number of volunteers engaged in it. One comparison that comes to mind is that I’m old enough to have lived through the anti-war movement. In fact, I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley at the time and, uh, relatively conservative. Such a time. Grew up Republican. And, um, the composition of people engaged in this recall movement is much broader than it was, than the anti-war movement was. Age, gender, uh, background. So it’s quite inspiring that way.
Show Me Progress: Uh, what kind of response have you encountered as you’ve progressed through the, the, the recall process?
Jim Roseberry: Um, almost universally positive. Uh, people eager to sign, eager to be engaged, course, I live in Madison, which is not typical, either. You know, it’s not a model for all of Wisconsin, but, uh, that’s the case, and I haven’t been out collecting signatures. You know, you hear these anecdotal stories about somebody flipping the bird or whatever else. I consider them all outliers anyway. But, uh, I haven’t encountered any of that.
Show Me Progress: Um, so as you’ve worked in this office, uh, you’ve dealt with volunteers [Jim Roseberry: “Um, hm.”] coming in. [Jim Roseberry: “Um, hm.”] Uh, are you finding that the volunteers are people who are activists who used to be, who are used to doing this kind of thing, or are you getting a mix of people who…
Jim Roseberry: I think it’s a phenomenal mix. And, uh, you know, there are, there are people who are going to be politically active, they’re, clearly they vote and, uh, pay attention to the news, but, I think many of them are becoming much more active than they’ve ever been in their lives, around collecting signatures and bringing ’em in. And it’s quite impressive. And, uh, the whole process, I think, has been rootinized in a, in a really good way. And we, people bring petitions in, we hand them blank petitions out, they bring signed, sig, petitions in. We go over them carefully with people and when you’re going over them carefully with people you get to ask a few questions. And, uh, it’s kind of interesting.
Show Me Progress: So, so [crosstalk]…
Jim Roseberry: The variety of people involved.
Show Me Progress: Uh, huh. Uh, so, you, you get stories about their background and why they’re doing this.
Jim Roseberry: Um, hm. Um, hm.
Show Me Progress: And so, have, have any of those stories struck you?
Jim Roseberry: Uh, not outside of the generic, uh, recognition that, uh, that it’s not only, not just the policies of this government and, and this, uh, governor, but it’s the methods and approaches that the, that he and his people have taken. And people are very frustrated with that.
Show Me Progress: How has Wisconsin changed since January?
Jim Roseberry: Well, it’s become much more politicized. I mean, in some sense you could send a thank you letter to the governor because a lot of people who were kind of walking, uh, slightly asleep are now wide awake and engaged. And making themselves aware of what’s going on and taking action. And, uh, uh, so, I think that it’s been incredibly politicized. And much of it in a good direction, from my point of view.
Show Me Progress: Uh, in the sense that people are actively engaged and participating.
Jim Roseberry: Yes, collecting signatures, uh, coming to the office to make phone calls. Uh, I go to the coffee houses every day, I’m retired so I can do that, and, uh, but, uh, just the conversations you hear amongst people, you know.
Show Me Progress: As, as you approach the end of the signature process, you know, the next step is the, ultimately, the election, and [Jim Roseberry: “Um, hm.”], um, do you feel that, that the people that you’ve been engaged with will follow through?
Jim Roseberry: Yes.
Show Me Progress: They, they’ve signed that [crosstalk]…
Jim Roseberry: Yeah, and [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: … that petition and so they’re going to participate.
Jim Roseberry: Yeah. I think so. And that, you know, who knows how an election’s gonna turn out? And, uh, I’ve lived, lived long enough that I’m not attached to outcomes. So if I were to lose life would go on. But, uh, this is going to be a very different election. The two thousand ten election was an off year election. The turnout was light, and, uh, a lot of people really didn’t know who Walker was and what he stood for. They now know what his, uh, what he, what his policies are and what his methods are and they’re quite energized. So it’s gonna be a different, uh, different election.
Show Me Progress: Do you think the, the, in, in two thousand ten election that people were really aware of what the consequences of the election were?
Jim Roseberry: No. Uh, first of all, I think that the evidence is quite clear Walker did not really say exactly what he was gonna do. I think if he had run and said, we have a budget crisis and teachers and, are gonna have to make a contribution, that’s one thing. If he had said we’r
e gonna, uh, get rid of unions or really hamstring them and we’re gonna ram it through the legislature, that’s another thing. And I think the second part of that they weren’t aware of. I also think it was an election, off year election which don’t go well for parties in power, generally. And then I think that the previous governor who was a Democrat, Jim Doyle, uh, was not liked by a lot of people. And, uh, you can decide what you make of that, but, so, many people will vote against rather than for. And so Walker, I think, was, uh, had some advantages in that election which he doesn’t have right now.
Show Me Progress: So, after, after , uh, I believe it’s, about two weeks, or three weeks before the, um, petitions are due in?
Jim Roseberry: They’re due in the middle of January.
Show Me Progress: Middle of January. [Jim Roseberry: “Um, hm.”] Um, what then for you?
Jim Roseberry: Well, uh, getting the petitions in, making sure they’re squeaky clean so the Government Accountability Board can have an easy, clear route to verifying them, and since it’s such a, a huge task it’ll take a while. And, uh, so we just sit patiently by and wait for them to review them. Uh, I, I expect them to find that there are enough legitimate signatures to have an election. Then there’ll probably be some chicanery around trying to extend the election and get the voter ID law in and etcetera and so forth. So, there’s room there for some political education, if not, action and then, uh, once the election is set, uh, campaigning for the election.
Show Me Progress: All right. Thank you very much for your time.
Jim Roseberry: My pleasure.