Friday, April 29, 2011

Recall Review: Police Chief battles edition, more on Wisconsin, Michigan county reports 340 recall filings over two decades

Wisconsin: Nine petitions handed in already, as Election Board looking to consolidate recalls into one day (July 12)

Michigan: Debate over ease of local recalls, as Berrien County reports 340+ recall filings over the last 20 years

South Dakota: Petitions out against Huron mayor, over police chief retirement

California: Three Councilmembers facing recall in Point Arena

Arizona: Water rate hike, budget deficit behind attempt to recall San Luis Mayor/3 Council members

Alaska: Mayor of Houston facing recall over police chief firing

New Mexico: Indicted Socorro Mayor facing what is believed to be the first recall in El Paso County history

Michigan: Ogden County Township recall petitions handed in

Massachusetts: Chelmsford looks to increase signature requirements for recalls (and increase time needed for collection)

North Carolina: Bill to allow Oak Island the right to recall signed into law, now moves to referendum

Thursday, April 28, 2011

9th Recall Petition filed in Wisconsin/Previous two time recall participants

The Democrats have gotten signatures in against the 6th Republican Senator, versus three Democrats. The Democrats also appear to have a head start on fundraising.

Just for some perspective on how unusual this event is, the only time one legislative session has had as many as three recalls was California in 1995. Nationwide, there has not even been a decade that saw more than six recalls of state legislators (that was the 1990s).

And, if it gets on the ballot Jim Holperin will be the first legislator to face two recalls as a state legislator. However, there is some precedent that might comfort Holperin. California Senator James Owens, the second state legislator to face recall way back in 1913 (and the first to survive a vote), previously survived a recall when he was serving as a city councilman. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recall Review: Wisconsin (and Milwaukee), California, Texas, Arizona and Colorado

I will be out again for a few days, though I'll get into the historic nature of Wisconsin once I get back -- here's some links:

Wisconsin: Continues to dominate the news, with costs an issue, a state rep announcing that he's running for one seat. Here's talk of a 2012 Gubernatorial recall 

Wisconsin: Recall of Milwaukee Alderman Witkowiak might be off, as the board struck 13 names from petitions, leaving the proponents 8 short. Looks like this one will go to the courts.

California: Forum on City Council recall in Hercules

California: $240K spent on recalls by Montebello in the last three years

Texas: Former Mayors release letter opposing mayoral/city council recall in College Station

Arizona: Chairman of the Hualapai Tribe removed by recall, issue was profit-sharing payments

Arizona: Proposed recall of US Senator Kyl fizzles

Colorado: Recall date set for Williamsburg Mayor

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recall Review: Wisconsin moving to the mattresses, Michigan, Arizona and Mass

Wisconsin: So far, recall petitions have been filed against 3 Republicans and 4 Democrats; Here's a rundown of the districts 

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Alderman battles recall petitions -- great subhead "no one is sure why Witkowiak is being recalled." The Board had previously found that they had five more signatures than needed.

Arizona: Lots of recall petitions out there

Michigan: More on social media and the recall, this time talking about Gov. Snyder

Mass: Recall of four Chelmsford Selectmen is moving to signature gathering stage

Michigan: Recall language approved against Riga Township Treasurer

Monday, April 18, 2011

Recall Review: Out of Office addition + NPR, American City & County article and Michigan Gov

The Recall Elections Blog will be out the next two days. Here's some links to tide you over:

Here's an interview with Mayor Suttle from Omaha and myself on NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin

An article of mine on the cost of municipal recalls in American City & County

Attempt to recall Michigan Governor Rick Snyder gets going

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Recall Review: Arizona, Wisconsin, Cali, Indiana and Global

Arizona: Three Phoenix Council members are facing recall threats, two over traffic debates

Wisconsin: Break-in at recall headquarters, Kapanke challenges recall, Claim that Harsdorf (Republican) recall has enough signatures

California: Hughson voters appear happy with results of August recall

Indiana: Niles Township recall language for four township supervisors rejected again

Nigeria: Apparently has the recall

India: Activists call on Prime Minister to allow recalls for MPs and MLAs, Chief Judge denies effectiveness of a judicial recall

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recall Review: Conference of Mayors, Arizona Senate Majority Leader, Rerun in Wisconsin and ND, news in Colorado and Michigan

US Conference of Mayors Campaign: Here's my interview with on WNYC's Takeaway, with the Conference's CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran; More here as well

Arizona: Controversial Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce recall getting close to reality

Wisconsin: Oshkosh Common Councilor Jessica King is the first major challenger in Hooper recall; She ran against Hooper in 2008. See this post for details on the rarity of recall reruns

Colorado: Attempt to recall Denver Public Schools Superintendent fails -- not enough signatures

North Dakota: Walsh County Sheriff survives recall vote, race was also a rerun of the November election

North Dakota: Emerado Mayor, City Council member may be facing recall

Michigan: Township Supervisor recall falls short

Michigan: Role of Meijer Inc. in funding township recalls questioned

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recall Fever: US Conference of Mayors tin-eared campaign against the recall

After the Miami-Dade and Omaha recalls, the US Conference of Mayors has responded with a limited war on the recall. On Tuesday, they are kicking off an education campaign by putting out a documentary called Recall Fever: Stop the Madness

Whatever the merits of their argument, the Conference does itself no favors with its passive challenge against the recall. Specifically, it notes that the recall has targeted local leaders “who have done nothing illegal” and that voters are “expressing their feelings -- often times in destructive ways.”  This seems to be a fruitless attempt to shift the blame to the voters for "expressing their feelings" rather than political grievances. Even worse, by stressing the illegality red herring, the Conference ignores the fact that recalls are, at least in most states and localities, inherently political devices, intentionally not subject to judicial review for motives. Most recalls are not based around illegal action, and a study of the history of the recall shows that it was not intended to flush out corruption. Voters have shown they like recalls and this line of attack ignores that basic fact.

This is a shame, as the mayors should be calling attention to the cost of recalls. As I’ve mentioned before, arguing that a recall is expensive does not work that well as a campaign defense. However, it is pretty much the only time that the recall’s price tag comes up. The mayors are right to shine a spotlight on cost, and try to present a reasoned explanation for why voters should limit the recall in order to save money. But the Mayors have to walk a tightrope – which their initial press release did not do – and show that they are looking out for the voters best interest, and not seeking to protect themselves and limit options for deploying the recall.

I actually have an article coming out this week in American City and County that makes several suggestions about what municipal officials could do to limit the cost of recalls (one of which would clearly curtail recalls).The two options that I think should be considered are raising the signature requirement and making a same day recall and replacement vote (which I believe would help elected officials). The signature requirement can be raised in a number of different ways, such as by counting a percentage of total registered voters rather than voter turnout in the last election. Since the mayoral vote is usually in non-presidential year, this would increase the amount of signatures needed. The small signature requirement is a problem-- Akron needed less than 4,000 signatures to get a recall on the ballot.

The mayors can make a broad-based attack on the entire philosophy surrounding the political nature of the recall, and try to limit the recall, as some states such as Minnesota. There are plenty of arguments against the recall. But I don't think the Conference wants to go down that rabbit hole.

One other point: The release notes that recalls are on the rise, and blames the challenging economic times. Though Ballotpedia may not be the most trusted name in news, undoubtedly they are right -- recalls are on the rise. And for a variety of reasons, local officials are more likely to face a recall that state ones. The economic downturn and high unemployment numbers play a large role in the growth of voter anger, which fuels recalls (and incumbent defeats in general elections). But by limiting the discussion of the growth of the recall to the last few years, the mayors are ignoring a longer term trend and failing to recognize the more important reasons for the growth of the recall, namely technological innovation. The recall is not going away.  

Recall Review: Recall Fever -- Catch it! Plus, Idaho, Texas, Mass and Miami-Dade

US Mayor Conference releases Recall Documentary  -- I'll have a post on this

Idaho: Steep hurdle for Education Superintendent

Texas: Killen city council recall faces basic legal hurdles

Mass: Lawrence mayor facing petitions

Miami-Dade Set May 24 for the second race

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Recall Review: Wisconsin, Arizona Senate President facing trouble and more

Wisconsin: Kapanke recall estimated to cost $110,000 -- if there is no primary. County pleading poverty 

Wisconsin: signatures submitted for Second Senate against a Republican, Randy Hooper.

Arizona: recall petitions taken out against Senate President Russell Pearce, who was caught up in Fiesta Bowl scandal.

Arizona: Recall papers filed against Phoenix councilwoman

Nebraska: City Council recall date set -- recall is over councilman walking out of meetings to deprive council of a quorum

Ohio: Recall bill submitted for state officers

Michigan: Southwest portion of the state enjoying a spate of recall attempts

Indiana: Official facing recall arrested for writing bad checks 

Massachusetts: Recall attempts on four selectmen

Friday, April 8, 2011

Impact of Prosser's late victory

As I mentioned below, the judicial election could have a big impact on the recalls. A close race seems to lead to charges of election theft in almost any election, which would motivate the losing side. However, losing big could have served to sap motivation. Wasn't expecting this result. While it is a win for the Republican side, it is a potentially disastrous outcome from their recall campaign perspective. The optics are terrible, their donors have lost a little bit of the fear of losing, plus they've seen that they have their work cut out for them in the key districts.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Will the Judicial Election Impact the Recall? Is there a Recall "Damper Effect?"

One of the tactical arguments against using a recall is that it could operate to soak up the proponents’ voter anger and damper a bigger election victory down the road. As we see practically every two years, a presidential victory is followed by a backlash against the party in power. What occurs, at least partially, is that the victors get overconfident in their message and their success, and the out party gets to hone their pitch. Perhaps, and I have no good evidence one way or the other, the recall acts as a breaker on the winner’s high and let’s them get their eye back on the ball for the next election.

From this tactical point of view, I’ve wondered if the two sides in Wisconsin would have been better off letting the hurt feelings from the budget battle fester and using it to their advantage in the much more important electoral fight in 2012. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. The political system is thankfully too decentralized to allow that type of top-down thinking to occur – too many players are involved that would benefit from the immediate impact of a recall.

Given that, how will the brutal Wisconsin Supreme Court election race, which is going into overtime, impact the recall fight? The two parties and outside groups have already dropped $3.5 million on this race – and now we got the lawyers coming in, so that figure is going way up. This should give us an idea of the money that will be spent on the recall battles, where there is going to be a much longer fight. Some other basic question -- Is there an electoral benefit to winning or even to losing the judicial race?

Did the big turnaround in vote (the putative Republican candidate Prosser crushed the competition in the earlier primary round) get the Republicans to the battle posts earlier than they would have for the recall fight?

Since one side will undoubtedly feel they got cheated out of a victory (unfortunately, that’s it how it works with every close race – hell, I know a guy who still complains that strike three was high in Don Larsen’s perfect game), will losing actually prove more of a motivation and benefit than winning?

Will the recall battle result in a boomerang effect against the winner come 2012? 

No answers, only questions. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recall Review: Wisconsin, Canada, Idaho, Florida

Wisconsin: Group claims they have enough signatures to get one Democratic Senator (Wirch) on the ballot

Wisconsin: Parties won't say who will run if the recall is successful -- for good reason. It gives the official someone to run against

Wisconsin: State's Judicial election battle is a boon for signature gatherers

Canada: Recall attempt fails

Idaho: Democratic Chairman calls for School Superintendent recal

Florida: Bill to allow recall for state officials 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recall Review: Split the Ticket in Wisconsin, Miami threats and Marathon Labor Unions and Recall comes to Maine county

Wisconsin: State Officials are unsure if a Gubernatorial recall would also knock out the Lt. Gov; but another reason that states should split the ticket

Wisconsin: Two more recalls (both Republicans) are getting close to the ballot; Nice financial data in here

Wisconsin: Labor unions considering recall against Marathon County Board of Supervisors 

Miami: Braman threatens more recalls

Louisiana: Mayoral replacement elected from November recall

Maine: County approves recall

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wisconsin Signature Requirement -- Kapanke recall

Among the 18 states with a recall, Wisconsin has one of the hardest signature requirements to get a recall on the ballot.

First, it requires a fairly high number of signatures (25% of the vote for the governor's office in the last election). It could be higher -- for example, Louisiana requires the signatures of 33 1/3 of all the eligible voters in the district -- but it is clearly a healthy amount. Most states appear to use voter turnout, rather than the much higher eligible voter requirement.

I should be a huge caveat to that number, though. Any eligible voter can sign the petition, not just any registered voter. This gives petitioners a larger base to choose from, and also makes challenges to signatures harder to win (petition challenges would be more expensive, as they have to search beyond the voter rolls).

However, the signature requirement is combined with an extremely tight deadline to hand them -- 60 day. Only four states limit the gathering period to 60 days. Most of the others fall between 90 and 180. That the Democrats were able to get the signatures (presumably they feel confident that the signatures are valid, and since they don't live in NY, there are probably less hurdles) to recall Senator Dan Kapanke in half the compressed time frame is clearly a strong sign for them.

Here is a list of next steps on Wisconsin

New Business: Wisconsin is ON, plus news from ND, NM and Maine

Wisconsin: First group of signatures to be handed in against a Senator -- this one is against a Republican

North Dakota: Recall campaign against state Senator accused of domestic abuse fails; Petition would have needed less than 2000 signatures

New Mexico: School board recall shot down by judge due to lack of evidence

Maine: Democratic lawmaker wants a statewide recall