Wisconsin Recall Drives Could Make History as 16 Senators Become Targets

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert observes that what's happening on the ground in his state appears to be unprecedented:

As improbable as the last three weeks have been in state politics, Wisconsin is about to embark on another wild ride into the political unknown - a series of legislative recall campaigns on a scale the nation has rarely, if ever, seen.

"I don't think there's a precedent for what's going on in Wisconsin," said Gary Moncrief of Boise State University, an expert on legislative politics. "I don't think there's ever been a case where pretty much everyone has been subject to a recall attempt at one time on both sides. That's really amazing."

Formal recall campaigns have now been launched against 16 state senators - eight Republicans and eight Democrats. That's everyone in the 33-member Wisconsin Senate who is legally eligible to be recalled this year....

Scholars interviewed last week could cite only three times in American history when more than one state legislator has been recalled at roughly the same time over the same issue: two in Idaho in 1971 over a pay raise, two in Michigan in 1983 over a tax vote and two Republicans in California months apart in 1995 over their collaboration with Democrats.

Moncrief said the leading historical example of a broad-based, successful recall effort at the state level occurred 90 years ago in North Dakota, when the governor and two other statewide officials were driven from office.

Read the full story at The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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