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With recall ink still fresh, Wisconsin Democrats eye primary

January 19, 2012 | 11:41 am

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The ink is barely dry on Wisconsin’s recall petitions, and Democrats are already preparing for a possible primary to see who will get a shot at running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Earlier this week, Democrats and their allies filed petitions with 1 million signatures -- nearly twice what is needed -- to recall Walker. The effort was launched after the conservative Republican pushed the GOP-led Legislature last year to curb bargaining power for public employees and to have workers pay a larger share of their benefits.

Democrats have also filed petitions to recall the lieutenant governor and four state senators. All of the signatures, about 2 million total, are being examined by state officials -- as the public watches; an  election date will be set if the petitions meet state requirements.

Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk on Wednesday became the first well-known Democrat to announce that she would run against Walker, but she isn't expected to be the last.

State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate called the Wednesday announcement “exciting news.”

Falk has “shown how government can be run on a budget and for the people without unnecessary division and with respect for basic rights,” Tate said in a prepared statement. "Unlike Scott Walker, she would be a leader who will tell the truth to the people and who values all voices, not just those of ideological fellow travelers.”

But Tate also noted that a primary was possible and said that the party will remain neutral. “We are confident that the open primary process will yield the strongest possible candidate to take on Scott Walker,” he stated.

Among other possible Democrats eyeing the race are Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and former Rep. David Obey.

Former Rep. Steve Kagen, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach of Middleton are also possible contenders.

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Photo: Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who has announced that she will run against Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election, waits to speak to recall volunteers in Madison. Credit: Scott Bauer/Associated Press

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