Mar 15, 2011

Don't rule out the team that's fighting on principle

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The imbalance of power might be alarming to national conservatives, but it doesn't seem to worry the troops on the ground trying to recall Democratic senators.

"I think it's a huge advantage for us because we are really, really grass roots," says Dan Hunt, an out-of-business real estate developer in the Kenosha area who heads Taxpayers to Recall Robert Wirch. While the other side has more money, Hunt says, "We haven't had a problem raising funds. We're fully funded as of now. We're getting national support; it's just national individual support."

Beyond organization, there is a difference in the two recall efforts. The conservative drive to recall Democratic senators began in outrage over the Democrats' flight from the state. How could lawmakers who took an oath of office do that? The liberal drive to recall Republicans began as an effort to pressure those senators to vote against Walker's budget bill. Now that the bill has passed, it's an effort to make examples of the senators who supported it.

For Hunt, it's about principle.

"I'm doing it because my senator didn't represent me in Madison," Hunt says. "He left, and I think that is the worst thing that can happen in a legislative democracy. People who choose to leave their post on purpose, just to avoid a vote on a bill -- that's an egregious act that requires citizen reaction."

Both sides have several more weeks to gather signatures. After that, there is a period for legal challenges of the petitions and then another period before the actual recall election, which could come in mid-to-late summer. Will the intensity of union activists last until then? And just as important, will the intensity of ordinary citizens, the people who are volunteering for Hunt's group and others like it, stay alive as well?

Unions are very good at things like gathering signatures and chartering buses to take people to the polls. But don't rule out the team that's fighting on principle.

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent, can be contacted at His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blogposts appear on