Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Labor Brawl Lands on K Street

Eight Republican and six Democratic state Senators are the targets of recall efforts. The recall petitions that must be collected over 60 days are expected to be submitted to state officials by the beginning of May. If they are validated, that would trigger special elections that would take place after six weeks, likely in June or July.

Democrats said they have a reasonable chance of capturing at least three Republican seats that would be needed to win back control of the chamber. Among the most vulnerable is GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who represents a La Crosse district that President Barack Obama won in 2008. House Democrats would also savor the ouster of Kapanke, who in the 2010 elections waged a tough race against Rep. Ron Kind (D).

One Republican target is state Sen. Julie Lassa (D), who lost to Rep. Sean Duffy (R) in a race for the seat vacated by longtime Rep. David Obey (D). The DCCC is letting voters know that Duffy attended a fundraiser with Walker last weekend in an attempt to tie him to the increasingly unpopular governor.

Liberal groups said they have already raised more than $2 million to spur the recall effort.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, which was founded by former presidential contender Howard Dean (D), have raised $800,000 that is being used for targeted radio and television buys in the state Senate districts.

MoveOn.org has raised another $1.5 million, most of which is going directly to the Wisconsin Democratic Party to coordinate the petition-gathering efforts.

"Wisconsin has become a proxy fight for the whole larger struggle on the future of the middle class and the American dream," said Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.

The major labor unions are also on the ground in Wisconsin urging their volunteers to help in the petition-collecting efforts and show up various protest rallies.

The AFL-CIO, in a memo issued Tuesday, also suggested the fight is likely to spread to other states where legislation has been introduced curtailing union activity. The umbrella group for organized labor is planning a series of nationwide events on April 4, including vigils, house parties and rallies to highlight their issues.

Although not yet as active as their liberal counterparts, conservative groups are also preparing for battle in the Badger State.

GOPAC is on the air this week with a cable television buy intended to bolster state Sen. Randy Hopper (R), whose district includes Oshkosh.

"A number of conservative groups are doing our part," said David Avella, president of GOPAC. The Tea Party Express is also asking members for donations to fight organized labor and the recall efforts.

Wisconsin political observers said that because of the state's campaign finance laws, the big money will likely come pouring in sooner rather than later. Individuals and PACs can give unlimited amounts during the petition-gathering period.

However, once the state determines that a recall election should be triggered, the candidates must abide by campaign giving limits for the six-week election period. Those limits are $1,000 for both individuals and PACs. PACs also have an overall limit of $17,525.

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