Walker Backers Mount Effort To Write In Governor's Name in Democratic Recall Primary
A growing group of Walker supporters hope to spoil Democrats' recall party by writing in the Republican's name in a potential primary.
In the “Wild West” political territory that is the Wisconsin recall elections, it seems anything goes.
Therefore, it should probably come as no surprise that some supporters of Gov. Scott Walker have come up with a new plan to thwart efforts to unseat the Republican governor.
Utilizing word-of-mouth and social media, these Walker supporters are encouraging voters across the state to write in the governor as a candidate in the Democratic primary — if the recall election moves forward.
It started as a conversation on Facebook, but less than a week ago the page Operation: Write in Scott Walker in Democrat Primary popped up on the social media goliath, giving the movement an established spot on the web.
In just more than a week, 772 people have given the page a “like,” and are spreading it around their social circles.
If this effort were successful, it's unclear what the effect would be on the general recall election. The Government Accountability Board isn't providing a clear answer either.
“The law requires a space for write-in on the ballot,” said Reid Magney, GAB spokesman. “Beyond that, it would be premature for us to comment on something that involves so much speculation.”
Wisconsin's system of open primaries means voters do not have to share a political party's affiliation to vote in its primary. So, there's nothing to stop Republicans from voting in a Democratic recall primary — and from writing in Walker's name.
“I go from one side of the state to the next during my work day, and I’ve heard people talking about it from Racine to Eau Claire,” said John Willock, who is a volunteer with Friends of Scott Walker and a fan of the write-in page. “It’s not really an organized effort, but there’s a lot of people talking about it.”
The power of social media has proven to be an effective tool for grassroots campaigns on both sides of the recall fence. On Jan. 21, well over 1,000 Walker supporters gathered in Hart Park in Wauwatosa for a three-hour rally. Organizer Noelle Lorraine, who is also a Patch blogger, pulled folks together for the rally primarily through social media.
Although not connected to the write-in campaign, Lorraine said momentum for it would likely build just as it did for the rally.
“It’s another grassroots effort, like the rally at Hart Park. Because of the rally, (the write-in campaign) is gaining momentum and spreading like wildfire,” Lorraine said. “The write-in campaign is being passed on by every Tea Party member and GOP member on Facebook.”
On the other hand, the group behind the recall, United Wisconsin, has nearly 44,000 fans of its Facebook page.
Democrats not worried about effort
Democrats, who have been navigating the state’s political Wild West for the past year, don’t seem to be concerned about the write-in campaign. Perhaps Dirty Harry’s iconic catch phrase, “Go ahead, make my day,” is the best phrase to capture the mood.
When asked about his initial impression of the write-in campaign, Wisconsin Democratic Party Spokesman Graeme Zielinksi said it was, “Surprise, then laughter.”
Zielinski said the effort has no chance of succeeding.
“Republicans seem frightened by democracy and the will of the people and, given what Scott Walker has done to ruin Wisconsin, they should be,” Zielinski said.
This isn’t the first time Republicans attempted to influence a Democratic primary. During the 8th Senate District recall election, Republican activist Gladys Huber ran in the primary. She was one of several "fake Democrats" who ran in the Democratic primaries across the state. None was successful.