Effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker more than halfway to goal

Rachel Rose Hartman

The Republican Party of Wisconsin rejected reports by organizers on Monday that the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker has been a resounding success. But a major tea party group contradicted the party's message.

United Wisconsin, the organization behind the recall, announced Monday that supporters collected more than 300,000 signatures to recall the governor in the first 12 days of the drive, placing them more than halfway toward their goal of 540,208 signatures--the number required to be gathered by Jan. 17 to permit a recall election.

Democrats and labor groups targeted Walker for recall after his successful effort earlier this year to end collective bargaining for most state employees.

A state Republican party spokesman, Ben Sparks, responded to the news of the signatures by accusing Democrats of making "attempts to generate false momentum" and repeating the Republican characterization of the effort as a "baseless power-grab."

But the Tea Party Express told supporters in a fundraising email that the recall's organizers appear to be "well on their way" to achieving their goal.

"I can't say that it wasn't anticipated, but we are seeing some bad signs coming out of Wisconsin," the national group wrote. The fundraising pitch asked for donations to help support Walker and their shared "conservative values."

Sparks, the state Republican party spokesman, told Yahoo News that the party stands by its statement. He added that there's "never been a doubt in anybody's mind" that the petition-gatherers would meet their goal.

Geographic evidence suggests that support for the recall extends far beyond Wisconsin Democrats, according to John Nichols, a political correspondent for The Nation, the left-leaning magazine.

"Even in Republican-leaning areas, the recall is exceeding goals-- and exceeding the 2008 performance of the most popular Democratic presidential nominee in decades," Nichols wrote in a blog post on Monday. "That earned a front-page headline last week in the Burlington Standard-Press newspaper: 'Recall Effort Has a Visible Presence in Conservative Burlington.'"

Republicans say actually winning a recall election is still out of Democrats' reach.

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