MADISON, Wisc. (CN) - The recall campaign against Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, 8 months after Walker polarized the state and made it a center of national attention with his so-called Budget Repair Bill, which drastically curtailed the powers of public unions.
Recall petitions were made available at 12:01 a.m. at "United Wisconsin to Recall Walker" - a grassroots coalition that claims membership of more than 200,000.
It has 60 days to collect and file the 540,208 signatures needed to schedule the recall election: one-quarter of the 2,160,832 votes cast for governor in November 2010.
Walker got an extra 10 days to raise money to fight the recall when a supporter, David Brandt, filed a petition with the Government Accountability Board on Nov. 4. That bogus filing, under the committee name "Close Friends to Recall Walker," gave Walker an extra week and a half to raise unlimited campaign contributions.
Campaign contribution limits do not apply when an elected official is facing a recall in Wisconsin. When Brandt filed his bogus recall papers, he opened the door for political action committees, individual donors and special-interest groups to contribute as much as they like. In a typical Wisconsin governor's race, contributions are capped at $10,000 for individuals and $43,128 for committees.
The authentic recall coalition, United Wisconsin, was hit with a cyber-attack on its website Monday afternoon. The group says its servers were flooded at around 2 p.m. The source of the attack is unknown.
United Wisconsin says it reported the incident to the FBI and the Wisconsin attorney general's office.
Though Walker's Budget Repair Bill, Wisconsin Act 10, spurred the recall, Democrats have been upset by a slew of other legislation since Act 10 was enacted, enjoined, and challenged again in a slew of lawsuits, many still pending.
Walker pushed through a concealed-carry law and a voter ID law.
A third bill, passed in the state Senate but not yet in the lower chamber, will require schools to teach abstinence-only sex education.
Democratic Party activists and United Wisconsin say they "cannot sit back and allow any more of Walker's destructive policies to threaten our state."
They have asked what all these bills have to do with the jobs Walker says he's focused on creating. United Wisconsin claims the state has lost 19,300 jobs under "WalkerRule."
Walker broadcast his first anti-recall ad Monday night during the Packers-Vikings game. He has bought another $300,000 worth of air time to run ads this week, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
State Democrats tried and failed to recapture the Wisconsin Senate with recall elections this summer. The recalls did whittle down the Republican majority from 19-14 to 17-16, but the Republicans have maintained party discipline as they rammed through their new laws.
Midnight rallies were held around the state this morning, and a large event is scheduled at the Capitol building on Saturday.
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