MADISON, Wis. - Petitioners said that more than enough signatures are being submitted to force recall elections against four Republican senators, including Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Organizers said that they turned in 20,600 signatures on Tuesday against Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. At least 16,742 must be valid in order to have an election.
Democrats need to defeat one of the four Republicans to take control of the Senate, although none of the incumbents face challengers yet.
"Obviously, we've got a lot of momentum and a lot of excitement here," said Lori Compas, who organized the effort against Fitzgerald. "It'd be great if we could have a candidate here within a few days, but I don't know. I'm just focused on filing (the signatures)."
The Fitzgerald recall effort appeared to be falling short until early January, when the Democratic group We Are Wisconsin stepped in with organizing efforts. It wouldn't have been a success without that group's help, Compas said.
Organizers collected about 24,000 signatures against Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and 21,000 names apiece in the efforts against Republican Sens. Pam Galloway of Wausau and Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls.
Fitzgerald initially declined an interview request to discuss how the recalls would affect Senate business, but eventually spoke to WISC-TV.
"I think it's not a normal process for a legislator to be making decisions on legislation in the face of running for re-election again, so that's the difficult part of things," Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald has said the top priority for the legislative session early this year is the mining bill, which aims to loosen regulations to attract 700 jobs to northern Wisconsin. He has also highlighted a bill promoting venture capital investment to spur economic development.
"The unions were out in full force on the last weekend, there's no doubt about it," he said. "It's just like anything else, you've got to stand for re-election. I've done it many times before and I'll do it again."
Fitzgerald is the most prominent of four Republican senators being targeted for recall. He has served as leader of the Senate's majority party since 2011 and has been a champion of Gov. Scott Walker's agenda.
No one has stepped forward to run against Fitzgerald -- although it could be months until GAB leaders certify the signatures against him. The effort to rally supporters for a campaign starts Friday, Compas said.
"We're going to talk about the next phase," she said. "We're already talking about getting deputized so we can register people to vote. We think that's really important."
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