Efforts To Recall Wisconsin Senators Gain Steam The law taking collective bargaining rights from most of the state's public employees remains on hold while it's challenged in the courts. Meanwhile, the fight has moved to its next phase: recall elections. In all, 16 state senators — Republicans and Democrats alike — are being targeted in this unprecedented effort.
NPR logo

In Wisconsin, Efforts To Recall Senators Gain Steam

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135517029/135519607" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
In Wisconsin, Efforts To Recall Senators Gain Steam

In Wisconsin, Efforts To Recall Senators Gain Steam

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135517029/135519607" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

NPR's David Schaper has the latest on this unprecedented recall effort.

DAVID SCHAPER: This is something Loraine Lucinski never imagined herself doing.

LORAINE LUCINSKI: Hi. Can I take a minute of your time to talk with you about Senator Olsen?

SCHAPER: She's trying to get her neighbors to sign petitions to recall veteran Republican State Senator Olsen.

NORRIS: No, you ain't going to talk to me about Senator Olsen, because I think he's a great man.

LUCINSKI: Thank you.

NORRIS: And I think he's a great man.

LUCINSKI: Unidentified Man: And all the rest of the...

SCHAPER: It doesn't always go well. Feelings both for and against the elimination of most collective bargaining rights for nearly all public employees run strong here. Lucinski works as an epidemiologist for the state health department and says she feels under attack.

LUCINSKI: Because it was such a personal affront to me, thinking this is the American dream. You work hard. And now, okay, you're going to have $300 less in your check a month because we don't agree that you should have collective bargaining rights.

SCHAPER: Lucinski says she's voted for Republican Luther Olsen in the past, which is why she's so disappointed he went along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's plan to eliminate her collective bargaining rights.

LUCINSKI: Would you be willing to sign the recall petition?

IRENE FRITCHEY: Sure.

SCHAPER: And Lucinski does find support at the home of Irene Fritchey, who says the legislation pushed through by Republicans just isn't right.

FRITCHEY: They bargained for that years ago. I mean to take it away now, I don't see that.

SCHAPER: Close to 23,000 other residents in this sprawling central Wisconsin district also signed, and organizers filed those signatures with state elections officials in Madison today.

LUTHER OLSEN: Well, I mean, I wish the whole thing could have came down different, but it didn't. But in essence, you know, sometimes you have to make tough decisions.

SCHAPER: Labor-backed Democrats hope to win at least three seats, enough to flip control of the upper chamber their way.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN)

SCHAPER: But as many as eight Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate could be facing recall elections of their own.

DAN HUNT: This is the last drive, what we call, drive-through that we're going to be having for our recall efforts.

SCHAPER: Standing in an abandoned gas station on a busy highway in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Dan Hunt is leading the recall petition drive against Democratic State Senator Bob Wirch.

HUNT: He left his job. He stopped representing us, and that's a major thing.

SCHAPER: Hunt says if elected representatives just left every time they didn't like a bill, there'd be chaos.

HUNT: I think that's the worst thing that a representative can do. They're supposed to be where they're supposed to be in order to debate, amend and vote. And that's their - just because you're going to be on the losing side doesn't mean you should take off and run away.

SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.