Recall Effort Against Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers Draws Signatures, Skeptics

Aug 31, 2020

An effort to recall Gov. Tony Evers fanned out across Wisconsin over the weekend, as critics of the Democrat began collecting the roughly 670,000 signatures needed to force a recall election.

Sunday morning at Echo Park in Burlington, recall organizer Misty Polewczynski wouldn't answer a reporter's questions about the recall effort announced Friday. But she did allow her voice to be recorded as she greeted people at a small table.

Polewczynski told one person that signature collection was off to a good start: "I know that one of the locations got 1,500, one got 1,000,” she said.

There was a steady stream of people signing at Burlington, many quite willing to say why. Bob Koenecke claims Evers shutting down Wisconsin schools and many businesses during the spring, and ordering the wearing of masks this summer in most indoor public places, are unconstitutional moves. 

"We're just not into socialism. At this point, you know? We're more into freedom,” Koenecke said.

Evers has said all the efforts he's taken during the COVID-19 pandemic have been aimed at saving lives. More than 1,100 people in Wisconsin have died from the coronavirus, and there have been more than 75,000 confirmed cases. Seventy-five thousand is seven times the population of Burlington.

Other recall signers are looking at last week — contending Evers could have done more to prevent the violence that took place in Kenosha after police severely wounded a Black man, Jacob Blake, on Aug. 23.

Roger Holmes says: "We want law and order and President Trump is going to give us that. Bottom line."

A cardboard photo of President Trump stands next to a statue of an elephant on a trailer brought by the Waukesha County Republican Party to the Chicken Burn event Sunday in Wauwatosa.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

Should the recall against Evers collect about 670,000 valid signatures in 60 days, it obviously wouldn't be Trump running against the governor in a recall election. Trump's a little busy against Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden. Holmes says he doesn't have a GOP gubernatorial candidate in mind.

"I'm going to go home and do more research on that. We're not to that point yet. We gotta’ get rid of [Evers] first,” Holmes said.

Two women who signed the recall petition in Burlington also said they don't have a specific replacement for Evers.

Mickey McCann told WUWM, "I don't like any politician,” adding that if there’s a recall election, "I'll go vote for the best man standing, or woman standing."

McCann says she's a political independent. Her friend Linda Drissel says she's 100% Republican. But Drissel says even though she's from the home area of Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, she doesn't want Vos in the governor's chair either. Drissel says the speaker seems to have disappeared on fighting the indoor mask mandate.

"Because during all of this now, he's backed out and you haven't heard from or seen him,” Drissel said.

The mood seemed more upbeat Sunday afternoon in Wauwatosa at an annual gathering of conservatives called the Chicken Burn. Dozens of people, almost all without masks, ate and heard speeches at the home of a conservative activist.

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt (left) speaks to attendees at the Chicken Burn. Another cardboard photo of President Trump is nearby.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

State Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt brushed off the idea that the GOP has one candidate preparing to run against Evers in a recall contest. Hitt says he's paying more attention to the race for the White House.

"For us, we're going to focus on reelecting the president during the next 60-65 days. But I certainly understand why people would undertake this effort,” Hitt told WUWM.

If the Republican Party doesn't lend its resources to the Evers recall, to the extent the state Democratic Party encouraged people to sign recall petitions against Republican Gov. Scott Walker nine years ago, that could make getting enough signatures this fall more difficult. (Walker won a recall election against Democrat Tom Barrett.)

Recall organizers seem unlikely to pick up help from some people unenthusiastic about Evers.

Sunday's Black Lives Matter rally at Sherman Park in Milwaukee.
Credit Chuck Quirmbach

At a Black Lives Matter rally in Milwaukee on Sunday, Joshua Taylor said he isn't sure the attempt will last.

"I think it's probably just a publicity stunt for whatever conservative right-wing group is doing it,” Taylor said.

Union activist Ryan Hamann also says he won't sign the recall petition. Hamann says he disagrees with conservative objectives.

"They want to get another Scott Walker put in office. They want to privatize everything in the state of Wisconsin. They want to get rid of the post office. They want to continue attacks on working people, is what they want to do,” Hamann said.

Hamann says he’s a radical Socialist, not Tony Evers.