Even if the left-wing opposition can force a special recall election, it is far from certain that Walker will be ousted from office. For all their anti-Walker fervor, Democrats have yet to find a candidate who can beat the governor in a head-to-head matchup. They suffered a massive setback in this regard when former Sen. Russ Feingold, the left’s favored candidate to run against the Walker and the only Democrat with the potential to beat him according to polls, announced that he would not run, a decision he has reiterated. As Democratic strategists grumble, that leaves Democrats without a strong challenger to unseat an incumbent governor, a tough political ask in the best of times.
For his part, Walker is not simply going to roll over before the recall. Already the governor has begun his counteroffensive, releasing a series of ads opposing the recall. One ad features a high school teacher saying that the governor did what was right for Wisconsin. In another ad, a school board member affirms that her district was able to focus more money on schools after Walker’s budget reform bill was passed. Conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity are also releasing ads backing Walker’s plan to limit collective bargaining for government workers. And time is on Walker’s side. The earliest a recall election could be held is March 27, and it is expected to be much later than that as the process of challenging the recall petitions and lawsuits works itself out.
Walker can also take comfort in history. There have been only two successful gubernatorial recalls in American history, one against North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921 and one against California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003. So far, at least, there has been no compelling reason to think that Scott Walker will be the third to suffer that fate.
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