Marilyn Ross sat in her wheelchair in the street, bundled up in a scarf, hat and gloves, greeting passersby at a recall "drive-thru" set up Tuesday morning on busy Fish Hatchery Road.
The 78-year-old retired teacher from Madison said her children "scooted her around the Capitol at all of the rallies" this spring during the massive protests over Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining measure. Ross now wants to use that "energy" to recall the governor. She was one of hundreds of volunteers working at locations scattered across the state on Tuesday, all of them playing a major role in the biggest recall election effort in state history.
United Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin are leading an army of volunteers in an effort that has targeted the controversial governor, as well as Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators: Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, and Sens. Pam Galloway of Wausau, Van Wanggaard of Racine and Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls.
More than 100 events were planned across Wisconsin as supporters started the Herculean task of collecting the 540,000 signatures. That number would be needed for Walker and Kleefisch individually to trigger recall elections next year. Opponents must file their petitions by Jan. 17, meaning they need to collect about 9,000 signatures a day for both.
Recalling the senators would require far fewer signatures from within their districts. Organizers in those races will have to collect on average about 15,600 to bring about a recall.
Organizers hope to build on momentum from fights over collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin and nationally, especially last week's vote in Ohio where voters effectively vetoed a law to limit collective bargaining for public workers there.
Many signature gatherers in Madison seemed to get a warm reception on Tuesday.
"Oh, you've made my morning!" said Jeri Miglietta, 65, after parking her car on Fish Hatchery Road so she could sign a petition.
The Ohio law was passed around the same time Walker pushed through his controversial bill this spring. The measure led to a month-long protest at the Capitol and thrust Wisconsin into the national spotlight.
At an event Tuesday in Sturtevant announcing a business expansion that would bring hundreds of jobs to Wisconsin, Walker said he would remain focused on his promise to help grow jobs in the state by 250,000 before the end of the four-year term he was elected to serve.
"We are going to be judged by that. Whether it's judged in 2012 or 2014, we're not going to take our eye off that focus," Walker said at the event at Ruud Lighting.
Republicans hosted their own "Recall the Recall Rally" Tuesday evening at The Edgewater.
Attendees included a mixture of staunch Republicans and a few who simply disagreed with recalls as a political tactic.
"I understand not agreeing with Walker, but as far as the recall, I think that should be reserved for higher crimes. I don't want to see recall becoming a precedent for strictly political reasons," said Andy Groth, 36, of Madison. Groth said Tuesday's rally was the first time he'd ever attended a formal Republican event, but added that his main reason for attending was to raise the bar for recalling elected officials.
The Republican event didn't pass without a hitch.
Ken Dunbeck, 27, led a group of protesters from the Autonomous Solidarity Organization in disrupting a speech by Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington. Dunbeck, a special education teacher in the Madison area, and several of the other protestors were escorted out of The Edgewater by security.
One of the Senate targets, Sen. Pam Galloway, R-Wausau, called the recall attempts an abuse of the recall law.
"I don't know why I am being recalled. I haven't broken any laws," she said. "I have been traveling around my district and it seems pretty clear to me that the voters do not have an appetite for more of this constant campaigning."
For the most part, the senators targeted for recall were strategically chosen. Galloway, Moulton and Wanggaard represent districts that often have swung Democratic. Republicans currently hold 17-16 edge in the Senate. If Democrats can clip just one seat, they will have control of the Senate.
Charles Franklin, UW-Madison political science professor, said it's pretty clear that the purpose of going after both the governor and a group of senators is to give Democrats two chances to stop Walker's agenda.
"This way, even if Walker survives, he will be greatly limited in what he and the Republicans can accomplish," Franklin said.
Unlike the other recall targets, Fitzgerald seems fairly safe. His recall is not part of the coordinated attempt that snagged the other members of his caucus. Lori Compas, a Fort Atkinson photographer, was waiting for someone else to target the Republican leader before she "finally" took up the task herself on the fly.
Compas said her committee is not very organized but she hopes to get everything in place to make a legitimate run at Fitzgerald.
"We're coordinating closely with Democratic organizers in the 13th District," she said. "We're hoping that everyone who wants to carry a clipboard for Walker and Kleefisch will pick one up for Fitzgerald, too."
State Journal reporter Jeff Glaze and The Associated Press contributed to this report.