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Walker Backers Say They're Ready for Recall Fight

A kickoff rally at Wauwatosa's Hart Park invigorates Republicans to battle to keep Walker in the governor's mansion and the state moving forward.

Delivering baked goods and fiery speeches, supporters of Republican Gov. Scott Walker warmed a crowd several thousand people strong Saturday, igniting what will be a months-long battle to save the governor's office.

"I want people to see that the majority of Wisconsin cares about Walker and Wisconsin," said Jeni Berdan, 28, of West Allis. "He's one of the first politicians who kept what he promised. That people came out in this kind of weather shows how people are behind him."

Temperatures were in the single digits before the rally began, but rose to the low 20s for the three-hour-long outdoor rally in Wauwatosa's . Skies were sunny and blue.

"See, the sun's coming up for us," Jerrid Madden, a 16-year-old Muskego student who spoke at the event, told Patch. 

Supporters traveled from blocks away in Wauwatosa or hours away such as La Crosse and Rosholt in Marathon County. A trio from the La Crosse Tea Party drove three hours to cheer on Walker and sell $2 "No Recall" bumper stickers.

Teachers came from Twin Lakes in Kenosha County to help with a bake sale, encouraging donations for goodies that covered long tables. Among the items: frosted red, white and blue cookies in the shapes of T, G, F, S and W — or as a sign explained: "Thank God For Scott Walker."

Teacher from Walker ad helps with baked goods

Helping at the bake tables was Kenosha English teacher Kristi Lacroix, who appeared in one of Walker's first television ads and received threats after saying in the ad that the recall was "sour grapes."

"I support my governor and what he's doing to help save teachers," she said Saturday. "He is fighting to give me a choice on whether or not I want to pay union dues."

Lacroix said she liked what she heard from Walker this week about his planned education reform package, aimed at improving elementary school reading, teacher effectiveness and creating a school rating system. Teachers could be more easily let go if their evaluations fall short and high-perfoming teachers could be rewarded with increased merit pay.

"Why wouldn't we want better teachers?" Lacroix asked.

Another Kenosha Unified School District employee, Lori Deutscher, drove from Twin Lakes to donate homemade apple cinnamon muffins. She joked she was a terrible baker but a friend gave her an easy recipe to try.

"I want him to stay in office," Deutscher said of Walker. "He's doing a great job. Things need to change."

She said she was concerned about burdening her three children and two grandchildren with too much debt, and she praised Walker for attacking the state's deficit.

Protesters set up smaller counter-event

But not everyone at Hart Park was singing Walker's praises. A much smaller group of protesters marched with signs on 70th Street, just outside the barricades erected for the event.

Shouting things such as "Walker 1 Percent" and "Where are the jobs?" they got into verbal tussles with Walker supporters, some of whom stopped to argue, exchange name-calling or take photos and video of protesters.

Dean Sperry from Milwaukee told Patch what upsets him most are the cuts to education funding and the recently enacted Voter Identification law.

"He lied to the people," Sperry said.

He said a rally of a couple thousand people paled in comparison to the support of 1 million via signatures on Walker recall petitions.

Dorothy Ann Phinney of Milwaukee called Walker's moves over the past year a power grab. She said she doesn't believe the majority of Wisconsin citizens support Walker, but the governor will gain votes by spending millions in the coming months on TV ads.

As top Republican elected officials took the stage, Madison resident Michael Dickman was one of several protesters who frequently blew vuvuzelas or shouted taunts.

Dickman acknowledged the horns were "annoying," but said the noise was needed to send a message of disgust at what Republicans were doing to Wisconsin.

"They're devastating our state," he said. "We're last in jobs. We used to be at the top of the heet in education, now we're almost dead last."

Walker crowd tells protesters 'shame, shame'

But the crowd of Walker supporters responded in kind to the horns with chants of "Shame! Shame!" and "Walker! Walker!"

Gail and Robert Toerpe of Bay View held up a large American flag. Gail said it was draped in 1926 on the coffin of her great-grandfather, a Civil War soldier.

Gail said she spent $340 to get signs made reading "Recalls Divide Us!"

"It can be taken as a bipartisan sign," she said. She added she and her husband were "recovering Democrats" who years ago helped the campaigns of Gov. Patrick Lucey and Attorney General Bronson LaFollette.

But Gail said she believed the Democratic Party had grown too extreme and as a pro-life advocate, she now votes Republican and backs Walker.

Terri Bullock of Milwaukee said she was never really politically active until the Capitol chaos last February after Walker's effective end to most public employee collective bargaining. Many of her relatives are teachers who were angry at Walker.

The final straw for Bullock: when her state senator, Lena Taylor, was among 14 Democrats who fled the state to block a vote on the governor's reforms.

"That was so cowardly, just totally shirking your responsibilities," Bullock said.

Now she plans to help the governor's recall fight. She had rally participants sign her homemade sign that said "We Luv Our Guv." She will deliver it to Walker in Madison on her way to Verona where she visits relatives every other weekend.

"I have never done anything like this before," she said. "We're empty nesters and we just want to show him that we all support him."

Teamster member rallies for Walker

A Teamster Union Local 200 member with Bullock carried a pro-Walker sign but said he didn't want to identify himself and face possible backlash. He criticized the recall movement as a waste of money, the same way he said the protests last winter at the Capitol wasted millions in security costs.

"Think about all the teachers that could have paid for," he said.

Pete Kosovich, a Republican Party activist and member of the Grandsons of Liberty, a Tea Party group that has , said he has seen an increase in grass-roots enthusiasm for Walker. People like Bullock are coming in for the first time to volunteer, he said.

"I honestly believe we're going to find 20 to 30 percent fraud," he said of the recall petitions.

Kosovich, who served on the Franklin Common Council from 2003 to 2008, said he knows Walker from past political events. "I personally like the man. He's honest, ethical, moral. He's doing what's right for Wisconsin."

The silent majority no more

Todd Osborne of Milwaukee said the supporters of Walker haven’t been as vocal as those who oppose the governor, but Saturday was about supporters converting from the silent majority to the not-so-silent.

In other words, Saturday was all about rallying the troops.

"We're going to have to fight a battle again, and we are going to win again," Osborne said.

"The changes in collective bargaining, to me, is a good start to making Wisconsin a right-to-work state," he said. "That’s just huge."

Marquette University student Lucas Baker said he supports Walker because he turned around a large budget deficit facing the state and did what he told voters he would do in 2010.

"The only way we can get the finances in order is to get the public union members to pay half of what the rest of us in the real world have to pay," said Bill Maher, from Kenosha.

Some in the crowd were too young to vote or understand deficits and pensions.

Ariel Lewandowski, 7, helped her older sister April Feltz, 24, carry a Walker sign decorated with glitter. Feltz drove three hours from Rosholt in Marathon County. She said she backed George W. Bush for president and now is supporting Walker.

Carley Hansen, 12, was sick and couldn't come to the rally with her mother Deb of Monona and sister Rachel Westberg, 17, so she made a sign Saturday morning for them to bring for her.

"I get to vote in the next election," Rachel said.

Hansen said she has backed Walker since he opposed adding light rail in Milwaukee. Now she supports many of his initiatives on collective bargaining, concealed carry and the castle doctrine.

Falk the preferred recall opponent

Hansen echoed many Walker supporters in her preferred choice for the Democrat on the recall ballot: former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who lost races for state attorney general in 2006 and governor in the Democratic primary in 2002. The reason they want to see her on the ballot? They believe she's too progressive for Wisconsin moderates.

Bill Berdan, 24, of Milwaukee, said Falk has "Madison money" and is beholden to the state teachers union, which has urged Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett not to get in the race and force a primary election with Falk.

But Hanson said Barrett wouldn't be able to criticize Walker's collective bargaining and pension reforms because the mayor used those "tools" to balance his budget.

"He used Act 10," Hansen said.

Bob McBride January 23, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Bren, the numbers that are taken seriously are those that show up at the voting booths. The rest of it is political theater. Fascism, corporatism, sedition, whatever you choose to call it doesn't matter. The point is that in order to justify the kinds of extreme measures your side is partaking in to attempt to force a do-over, it needs to sound and look (via the street theater aspect of it) as if we're in some state of emergency that can't wait until we're at the next election cycle. My point is that attempting to counter it in kind, even if there was a similar number of folks on my side willing to do so, is ridiculous. All it does is add to the cacophony. It's best to leave the antics to your side and let there be a strong distinction between the state of panic that's basically incongruous to what's actually happening, as anyone can readily observe, and a sane, but not submissive, counter campaign run in orderly fashion.
Mother of Two January 24, 2012 at 12:09 AM
For those of you that want Scott Walker as governor, when the democratic primary comes along...Just write in Scott Walker on the empty line. If he gets enough write in votes he will be running against himself. Thus saving the state millions of dollars.
Patriot January 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
http://www.prisonplanet.com/soros-warns-of-violent-riots-in-america-financial-collapse-government-clampdown-%e2%80%9csurvival-is-the-most-important-thing%e2%80%9d.html Do your own research. For those of you standing behind the clinched fist. Keep drinking that progressive Liberal koolaid.
Keith Schmitz January 24, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Excellent point Randy. Just how many people on the north shore are union members? Don't ya just love an opposition that is smug and clueless?
Keith Schmitz January 24, 2012 at 05:39 PM
What a lack of discernment. What it comes down to is our billionaires are different from your billionaires, demonstrating that we don't have the envy and resentment that we are accused of having, but the brains to know when someone is pushing their own agenda, to the detriment of all of us.
Keith Schmitz January 24, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Only if you guys can find someone to run instead of the clown car currently traveling through the GOP primaries.
Jerry Person January 24, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Patriot or is it Alkita or is it hanoy jane. what ever it is all lies. Turn off fox channel squirely. Walker began his term with a blatant assault on the rights of Wisconsinites to organize unions and to collectively bargain. These rights are so broadly accepted that the United States uses them to assess whether other countries are free. They are so broadly accepted that candidate Ronald Reagan said on Labor Day 1980: “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” As president, Reagan expanded on this principle when he said: “Collective bargaining … has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere.” Bush said" Alkita hates our freedoms and democracy and we must preserve them at all cost. We must do what ever means are necessary. Your a russian tea party terrorist who hate democrcay like Bush stated.
Bucky January 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Sorry Skinny not this time around. Maybe you can help him find another job some where else, hopefully out of this state.
Patriot January 24, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Exactly and your progressive partner Soros is pushing his agenda. Your words exactly. Mr Schmitz you should really be paying the village. After all it was tax payer money u managed to con from them
Patriot January 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM
@Bucky-I see you had no response to your comments regarding conceal carry. You know the ones when u stated where I can carry? Hopefully you took the time to educate yourself before making false statements
Bucky January 25, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Walker is not Steve Jobs.
skinnyDUDE January 27, 2012 at 12:19 AM
@KIETH I noticed you didnt mention any of them amazing Obama achievements.
skinnyDUDE January 27, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Unions and I was in one are the one organiation the rivals the governement in Coruption. I was not in a public union and oppose them just as PRO UNION PRESIDENT FDR did. His reasoning is well documented and accurate. FEDERAL employees do not have these Broadly excepted rights. In fact , Jimmy Carter of all people did the right thing and ended that. Even he seen the poisoness inherit issues involved were a total violation of the public trust and went against the BROADLY accepted rights of tax payers. Laws decide what is legal and what is right. Not Unions. The sooner you realize this the better off you will be.
Craig January 27, 2012 at 01:19 AM
So much bashing of CEO's getting filthy rich off the backs of the worker. Has anyone thought about Union CEO's? Business Managers for Unions make big money, and have fat pensions. Where are the 99%? Who is pulling the strings with the recall? The Unions! They requested membership assist with the signature collection, many did so out of fear of retribution.....But the union goons can not follow them into the polls.
skinnyDUDE January 27, 2012 at 01:34 AM
@ SAXON Ditto! :)
Jim Price January 27, 2012 at 04:37 AM
A number of comments involving perceived threats, some involving firearms, have been deleted from this thread. Not only the threatening comments but also those in reply have been deleted. Any further comments involving threats of the use of firearms will not only be deleted but will be reported to local law enforcement authorities. Patch.
Craig January 27, 2012 at 05:47 AM
Kudos Jim! That was the right thing to do.
Craig January 27, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Alkita? Do you mean Al-Qaeda? It is hard to follow your train of thought with all the typographical derailments. You quote Reagan praising the Unions, you do know he fired the air traffic controllers? Thirty years later and we are not all dead.
Patriot January 27, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Thank You Jim!!
Bucky January 27, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Jim if you have the time would you please entertain my question. Patriot 10:27 am on Sunday, January 22, 2012 To the gas chambers with Mr Keith Schmitz I perceive this comment being stated as a hate crime. Would you care to comment ? The Jewish community is very sensitive to these types of statements. Was Patriots comment stated to provoke a criminal act. Threats of this nature have no place in our society. Jim perhaps you should consider contacting your local law enforcement officers to further investigate these hate crime allegations.
Patriot January 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM
@Bucky-I will respond to my comment. It was in reference to Mr Jerry Persons constantly remarking about those of us on the right as being Stalin Moscow Dictator perverted GOPers. So it was in theme with all the reference to nothing . Bucky you seriously need to get a job or find something else to do!!!!!
Bucky January 27, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Thank you Patriot for your response it was very much appreciated, but my question was specifically directed to Jim. I would like to hear from Jim on his thoughts. I flagged your post as being inappropriate 3 times and it was never deleted from this site.
Patriot January 27, 2012 at 07:41 PM
@Bucky-Seriously just move on!! Your taking this once again to another level. Man this is a forum for open discussions no need to be threatening or over the top. Understandably political discussions can become heated but we all have to remember its just a discussion. Takes all kinds to make a world and not everyone is going to agree 100% of the time. I Stand Behind Gov Walker just as many others do as well. You brought the whole topic to a different level. My comments are neither harmful, threatening or hate crimes of any kind. Again lighten up its ok.
James R Hoffa January 27, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Wow - did this board ever get stupid, and in record time no less!
Patriot January 27, 2012 at 11:47 PM
@Jerry-Again all public sector workers still retain the right to collectively bargain. But a big Thanks to Gov Walker it does not include wages and benefits. Now they are equal to Federal Workers. So please explain to me how they lost freedoms? Being held hostage by a union who needs more money is the loss of freedom you speak about. As a tax payer I have no say in the matter so explain the freedom in that? Jerry I am neither Al-Qaeda nor Hanoy Jane, but a very conservative, common sense thinking American citizen. Nothing more nothing less.
Keith Schmitz January 28, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Think it us time that the Patch consider requiring that people use their real names. Most disgusting is the person who calls himself Patriot. He is anything but. Maybe it is a sick little personal joke, but there are people who have fought and died so this numbskull can belch his hatred and racism. It is doubtful that these people made their sacrifices would appreciate some spineless creep crapping all over their efforts. OK pal. Go nuts. If you think your harassment and bullying is going to have an effect, guess again jerk.
Say What? January 28, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Godwin's Law, or something like it.
Patriot January 28, 2012 at 10:45 AM
@Keith-Harassment and Bullying? What are you talking about? OMG This is flipping NUTS!!! I have way better things to do than this thats for sure. Hoffa said it right "Did this board ever get STUPID"
Patriot January 28, 2012 at 10:47 AM
@Keith-I will see you at the Walker Victory celebration. Where people have common sense and are real people.
Jeff Christensen February 01, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Keith, I notice that you post the same exact thing on multiple stories. Are you afraid of original thought? Here is the other story you posted the exact same thing: http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/tonette-walker-arrives-at-rally-will-speak-for-husband-family How about adding to the discussion, not just adding to the endless talking points?

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