I have been giving the issue of recalling Rick Snyder quite a bit of thought lately, which is probably obvious to regular readers. I have been quite ambivalent about the recall effort for a number of reasons. First, having Brian Calley as Michigan’s governor, even for a short time, gives me pause. Also, the task of collecting a million signatures in just 90 days is daunting. Finally, if the effort doesn’t go well, it may be one more demoralizing action that could depress Democratic turnout and Democratic GOTV efforts in the future.
Some have made the case against the recall pretty effectively. For example, 6th District chair and Kalamazoo Township Trustee, Mark Miller said this in a piece he wrote for Blogging for Michigan:
How realistic is the idea of recalling Gov. Snyder?
There were 3.23 million votes in the Governor’s race in 2010. Michigan law requires 25% of that amount in petition signatures, collected within a 90-day window, to launch a recall election. That’s 807 thousand signatures.
Let’s break this down a bit into what it would mean on the ground. The population of Michigan is about 10 million. Kalamazoo County, about 250 thousand. That means, proportionally, Kalamazoo County would need to provide about 20,000 signatures, and the same all across Michigan. Realistically, we would need twice that many, because Kal. is an urban, Democratic county (well, at least purple, with strong Dem. areas), and we would need to balance the population of rural counties where there would be no one at all to lead this effort.
Do we have an idea of the amount of resources it would take to gather 40,000 signatures in Kalamazoo County in 90 days? I can imagine mobilizing 100 volunteers or so to collect signatures, just from our existing volunteer base. The problem is that each of these would need to collect about 400 signatures, and a more realistic production would be ten or twenty from each volunteer. Many of these Democratic volunteers would come from the same neighborhoods, and end up asking the same people (and each other!) over and over to sign, while not getting out into the hinterlands of the county. I imagine it would be the same around the state.
The other alternative is a paid petition effort. I’ve never been involved in one, but I’ve heard that rates run around $4 – $5 per valid signature. This option would cost on the order of $4 million; less if some could be done volunteer. I don’t see anyone coming up with that kind of money; certainly not unless they were very certain by extensive polling that Snyder would lose the recall election.
And that’s the key point. Gov. Snyder is deeply unpopular, already, among the Democratic base – but the wider electorate is not hurting (yet) any more than they already were by the general economy. It won’t be time to recall Snyder until masses of folks are pounding on the door at Democratic headquarters, demanding to sign the recall petition.
At this point, this will be a truly grassroots effort. The Michigan Democratic Party has already let it be known that they will not be supporting the effort and there simply isn’t the money available for the paid petition effort Mark discusses.
The questions are whether or not it can be done and, if it’s not successful, if it will do more harm than good to the future of Democrats in Michigan.
As to the first question, with all due respect to Mark Miller and other Democrats who believe otherwise, I believe that it CAN be done. I have been contact with organizers for the Snyder recall effort. Six weeks ago, there were only a dozen or so folks involved with three core members. As of today, they have well over 18,000 people supporting their effort on Facebook and thousands of folks already signed up to volunteer. They have several large kick-off events planned including a big one this coming Saturday, and, most importantly, a very energetic group of Democrats upset with what has happened since Snyder took office and willing to take to the streets to collect signatures in an effort to focus their passion.
From an interview at A2Politico.com, a recall organizer had this to say last week:
Our organization is still growing. We have almost 17,000 supporters on Facebook and have had several thousand people volunteer on our website. We know some of these mean well, but may not be very effective, but new volunteers are joining every day. Once petition signing begins we expect to see a large surge in volunteers. That is why we are building organizational units in each county to coordinate the efforts and provide leadership and guidance to the petition circulators.
Will they ultimately be successful? There’s no way to know, of course. Certainly it will be a challenge. But, as to the second question, I still believe the effort will NOT do more harm than good, even if it is not 100% successful.
Right now, Democrats in Michigan have little to do except sit back and let the Republicans have their way. Since the GOP controls every aspect of our government all the way down to the Supreme Court, no amount of sign-waving rallies, phone calls or letters are likely to budge the Michigan GOP members from their steamrolling efforts to shape Michigan in their own political image. I believe that will be more demoralizing than a recall effort that isn’t ultimately 100% successful. The recall effort will also be a huge organizing tool and will help organize Democrats in preparation for 2012 when their efforts will be in even greater demand. If it IS successful, it will motivate Democrats in our state like never before.
All of these arguments can be applied to the recalls of several GOP House members as well, something I wrote about last month. The recall targets mentioned in my piece have been chosen wisely; each of them is vulnerable.
So, I am supporting the recall effort. It’s not going to be easy. It is going to mean people getting out and pounding the pavement to get signatures. But I believe that there are a large number of Democrats in Michigan that regret not getting more involved in 2010 or who actually realize they made a huge blunder when they voted for a Republican. I have to believe that many of these people will want to make up for that mistake by contributing to the recall effort.
At this point, it’s really our only option other than to sit on the sidelines as Republicans in our state pass law after law, rolling back any and all gains made by Democrats over the past eight years. From the rights of workers to join a union and be represented in collective bargaining to women’s reproductive health issues, the GOP is on a mission to roll back the clock and roll back progress. I believe the time is NOW to stand up and fight.
I hope you’ll join us.
NOTE: There are already reports of sabotage of the recall effort. Groups have been hawking online petitions as well as going to door-to-door with phony petitions in Washtenaw County and other areas. There will not be any valid online petitions and DO NOT sign a petition before next Saturday. Also, you can NOT download petitions to circulate from the internet. There will be a large kick-off rally on Saturday, May 21 from noon-6:00 at the Michigan Capitol Building. The Event Page on Facebook is HERE.
Visit FireRickSnyder.org to learn more about the recall effort, to volunteer and to donate to their cause. Click the “Rallies” tab to find out about upcoming events. Most updates appear on their Facebook page first which can be found HERE.