On May 30, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) will have two big fundraisers to help him raise money in his campaign to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the June 5 recall election.
Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold will be the special guest at a fundraiser that day from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre in Madison. Tickets range from $50 to $2,500.
Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) will also be in Wisconsin that day, headlining a breakfast at the Italian Conference Center in Milwaukee, according to WisPolitics.com. Suggested donations range from $250 to $2,400.
Feingold remains a popular progressive figure since losing his Senate reelection campaign in 2010, and he has been active in protesting and speaking out against Walker and his Republican allies in the state legislature. Indeed, polls last year showed he would have perhaps been the strongest Democrat in the state to go up against Walker.
In early May, Feingold also sent an email to supporters of his group, Progressives United, raising money for Barrett.
The Wasserman Schultz announcement comes just days after she called Barrett and pledged to do a fundraiser and provide grassroots support. The Obama campaign has also promised grassroots help, already organizing phonebanking and canvassing. On Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an email to raise money for field operations in Wisconsin, although the money was going directly to the DCCC rather than to the Barrett campaign or the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
In a recent poll by Marquette Law School, Walker held a six-point lead over Barrett.
Below, more on the history of the Walker recall:
In 2010, a surge of Tea Party momentum and backlash against Democrats helped elect conservatives including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who became the state's first Republican governor since 2002. Walker promised to cut taxes and create 250,000 new jobs, but a deeper look into his past also showed a politician who had inflamed tensions with unions before. The Washington Post reports on his time as Milwaukee County Executive, during which the collective bargaining rights of unions already appeared to be one of his most ambitious targets: During his eight-year tenure in Milwaukee County, Walker never raised property taxes. He cut the county workforce by 20 percent, improved its bond rating and gave back hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own salary as part of the effort to trim spending. But he also saw his relations with local unions deteriorate. Union leaders say Walker never negotiated in good faith and had a singular solution to every budget problem: cut. Under his watch, the county privatized public jobs, laid off workers and placed others on furlough. [...] Walker argued that collective bargaining was the biggest hurdle to balancing the budget and that unions had little incentive to give ground because they almost always prevailed in arbitration. He said that the cuts he proposed were intended to prevent layoffs and accused union leaders of being uninterested in compromise.
After taking office, Walker announced a number of controversial proposals, including eliminating collective bargaining rights for state employees and reducing public employee benefits, as part of a "budget repair bill." He said the reforms were necessary to prevent the layoffs of thousands of workers. Facing anger from unions, Walker announced his readiness to mobilize the state's National Guard in response to any disruptions. The announcement was met with backlash by public sector workers across the state.
The fight over Walker's proposed budget was contentious, with Wisconsin Democratic state senators crossing state lines to Rockford, Ill. in an attempt to stall the vote. In March 2011, Walker signed the budget, significantly curtailing collective bargaining rights for union-affiliated public employees. Thousands of protesters gathered in Madison, and labor leaders and Democrats vowed to fight back.
In the months following his signing of the bill, Walker's opponents organized, announcing their intentions to recall the governor and his supporters. They erected a tent city and believed they'd won a surprise victory over a conservative state supreme court judge, before amended voting totals from one county reversed the victory. Walker continued to defend his policy but said he had made mistakes in the political execution. Correction: A previous version of this text inaccurately stated the final results of the Supreme Court race.
Wisconsin Democrats scored a victory in their attempt to unseat Republican state legislators when they defeated six "fake" Democrats running in the party's primaries. Four of the six Republicans targeted for recall held onto their seats in the general election.
Petitions to recall Walker and his lieutenant governor gathered nearly a million signatures each, far exceeding the 500,000 needed. Election officials ordered a recall election.
Democratic candidates are now fighting for the chance to face Walker in the recall election. Amanda Terkel reports: Recalling a sitting governor is no easy task; it's been done just twice in U.S. history. But while Republicans are amassing money and ground support in the next few months to fend off the opposition, Democrats are still figuring out who among them will be the strongest candidate to run against the governor. The process is pitting traditional allies against each other, as the candidates try to show off their pro-labor credentials while also making the case that they are best equipped to beat Walker in the general election. There are currently four Democratic candidates competing in the May primary. Former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are considered the two frontrunners, with state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) and Secretary of State Doug La Follette also in the race.