Nearly 30,000 people gathered to protest and to sign recall petitions for Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch Saturday, making it the largest demonstration at the Capitol since the spring collective bargaining protests.
Under state law, organizers who began circulating recall petitions on Nov. 15 have 60 days to collect 540, 208 signatures, one-fourth the number of voters in the gubernatorial election, to trigger a recall election. An election would likely take place no earlier than May.
United Wisconsin, the political action committee that organized the recall drive, reported Friday they have already collected 105,000 signatures.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said Saturday before a student march organized by the Young Progressives and College Democrats that he was confident organizers could get even 700,000 signatures.
"We will stand up day after day and go out and make sure we have the signatures we need to make sure we recall Governor Scott Walker ... we have thousands and thousands [of signatures] more to go," Erpenbach said. "But we'll get them."
Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt and former Associated Students of Madison Vice-Chair Beth Huang were among many who spoke against Walker's policies at the rally.
"Tell the 180,000 students in the UW System that our never-ceasing annual 5.5 percent tuition increases are worth it when we're wait-listed class after class," Huang said in response to the recent university budget cuts.
Former Senator Russ Feingold also kicked off a pre-rally at the Capitol by signing a recall petition and talking to volunteers.
Despite interest from protestors, Feingold reiterated he would not run against Walker in a recall election. This decision leaves Democrats without a clear challenger although media groups and supporters have brought up several names such as Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, and Erpenbach.
In an interview with The Daily Cardinal, Erpenbach said he was "looking" at running but wanted to focus on the recall petition.
Young Progressives Issues Director Fiona Cahill said it is important for everyone to understand how the Walker administration's policies would affect peoples' livelihoods.
"Everything that's been done under Scott Walker's administration and the Republican legislature has been just terrible for Wisconsin," Cahill said.
College Republicans Spokesperson Jeff Snow said he would not be surprised if Walker opponents collected enough signatures, but he was confident Walker would win the general election.
"The more time goes on, the more facts we have on our side the less they have on their side, the lower the budget deficit gets and the more our reforms get a chance to work," Snow said at a Republican rally Nov. 15.
Roughly 50 Walker supporters also protested briefly at the Capitol Saturday.
Four Republican senators, state Sens. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls, Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau are also being targeted for recall.