Sat. 14 January 2012Dear Russ,
Today is the 60th and final day of signature collection in the effort to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch. This day marks a milestone in a historic victory for all of us, and for me personally in a huge way. I'm a United Wisconsin coordinator for Dane County and a grassroots organizer for the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC), a local progressive group. And I just finished the hardest political work I've ever done or thought I'd do. Yesterday was the final day of signature collection here in Sun Prairie and our office processed exactly 7,900 signatures to recall Scott Walker and just a handful fewer than that to recall Rebecca Kleefisch. We also collected enough signatures from District 13 residents eligible to sign the petition to recall Senator Scott Fitzgerald to make a difference in that effort as well. There were many more petitions from Sun Prairie turned in in Madison, but that's how many we processed in our office. On Tuesday, I'll be representing our team and our part of Dane County when I help carry the petitions to the GAB with recall coordinators from around the state. I couldn't be more proud of the work we've done, or hold more dear the friendships and connections that this recall has generated. The grassroots networks that were just thin webs before are now sturdy and lasting bonds that permanently and intimately connect individuals, groups, communities and all of the progressive minded people of Wisconsin. With our awakening, we have united, and we take our call to action seriously. In our town, and across the state, people who were never involved in politics at all are standing together to fight to move forward. And we know now that it's a fight we can't lose.
One of Scott Walker's most insulting lies about our efforts has been that recall workers were being paid to collect signatures. Obviously, this is a joke of the lamest order and more of his usual attempt to paint the largest grassroots movement America has seen in decades as a "big money" effort by the "union bosses." A joke he actually had the nerve to make, most recently, while fundraising (as usual) for big money out of state for his own campaign, and in the face of his connections to campaign fraud allegations in both a federal John Doe investigation and over 1000 violations of campaign finance law in his own fundraising.
But however Walker tries to spin the recall as an "outside" effort, the truth is, it could not be more grassroots, or more progressive, or more about the power and necessity of citizen action. In our own office, volunteers funded everything - their donations paid for yard signs, office rent, copy paper, hand warmers, office supplies, flashlights, recall signs, advertisements for our recall events...all of this came out of our own pockets. If the phantom "union bosses" we've heard so much about were supposed to be picking up the tab for this, they can send the check to me any time and I'll go about distributing the reimbursements.
But if the people who paid for this recall can't really afford it, they can afford even less to live three more years under a governor who talks constantly about tools and jobs but only has time (and money) for his corporate sponsors. That is price none of us are willing to pay, and we expect nothing but justice in return for fighting against it. As one recall worker, Heather Bott, said:
You couldn't pay me enough to stand out there in the cold rain waiting for the next signer. If I were doing this for money, I would have packed it in when it got cold. My fingers hurt as they were warming up yesterday, my daughter gently rubbing them back to body temperature. And would that be minimum wage?? Double that? A hundred an hour? No, the biggest wage is the knowledge I have that I did not remain warm, that I did not remain silent, that I did not remain anonymous or hidden. And no amount of money could compensate me for the guilt I would have if I did nothing in the face of the evil that has come to this state.
We have been out there for the past 60 days working, for free, because we share a common goal for the common good. Because we know that if we don't win this round, we've got three more years of being kicked to the ground. Three more years for Walker and the corporate writers of anti-education legislation to continue their war on public ed. Three more years of families getting kicked off the BadgerCare that keeps their kids up to date on their shots, ensures medicine for those who need it. Three more years of watching our resources being sold out to corporate interests as Walker tries to privatize every last enterprise of State affairs. Three more years of Gaylord Nelson rolling in his grave over the shocking attacks on our environment.
But I'm not going to let that happen. I have worked as hard as my busy life would allow, and did it for free. I stood with my brothers and sisters in the Capitol for free. I marched with my kids in the snow for free. I wrote letter after letter to Scott Walker for free. I spoke out publicly against his attempts to destroy public education for free. I volunteered my time as a United Wisconsin coordinator for free. I circulated petitions for free. I give up time I would rather be spending with my family because I know I couldn't look them in the eye if I didn't fight as hard as I could to see Walker recalled. And I apologized to them for not having spent more time in 2010 working on your campaign. It's a mistake I will not make in the future. It's a mistake I tried to rectify by doing my part to see Walker recalled.
But as monumental as this victory is, it's just Phase 1. Getting signatures was the easy part. The hard part is getting you elected. We all know Walker has not wasted a single moment of the recall period; he's been taking in massive funds from around the country in unprecedented amounts. Big Money America would like nothing more than to buy him an extended stay in our mansion. We can't match that money. But we can work.
I'm ready to knock on doors. I'm ready to make calls. I'm ready to work in the office, ready to do whatever it takes. If you think we worked hard to recall Walker, you can just multiply that by infinity to see how hard we'd work for you. Because the recall means nothing if we don't win the election. And to so many of us, true "victory" means Governor Russ Feingold.
Don't get me wrong. We've got some other candidates, good and honest people who could win. And let's face it, some of them are obviously more interested than you are in running right now. I'm not trying to dismiss them. I would vote for any of them.
But I want to vote for you. And, more importantly, I want to work for you.
Wisconsin needs you. And not in a rhetorical, only-you-can-save-us kind of way. Not just because we like you best, or know you best. Not just because we think you're the most "electable" among our choices. But because you're the best person for the job. We need you, Russ Feingold, because you have a singular trait that no other candidate in any other state has, and our loss in the Senate would be our gain in the Capitol if we could get you back: because you get it. You get that this is not about politics as usual. You understand what's at stake here. And the work of Progressives United - the work you have done as a Senator in your service for so many years - all proves that you have the antidote to Walker's anti-democratic, corporate-run vision of governance. You have earned our trust and our respect for all the right reasons, and we know you won't let us down.
I have been told that you aren't interested in running. I have read interviews where you said you didn't want to run "this year." I've been told that calling for you to run is just a distraction from the job of finding a "viable" candidate. But the people who are telling me that are the same people who said recalling Scott Fitzgerald was a pipe dream not worth investing in. And when you said you didn't want to run "this year" was 2011. Now it's 2012. By now you might want to run very much! I understand it might be a long shot, but the grassroots workers of Wisconsin live for long shots. And I'm not going to be counted among those who gave up before they tried. And I'm certainly not giving up on you. So I'm putting this out there and hoping you'll consider. Knowing where you stand in your support for the future of Wisconsin does not weaken our efforts; it strengthens our resolve to move forward.
Russ, you have proven to us through your years of commitment and service to the people of Wisconsin that you have the integrity, principle, vision and fearlessness needed to enact real change. And now, on this 60th and final day of the recall effort, we hope we've proven to you that we have the commitment and power to make your vision a reality. We can do it.
Grassroots action works. And we are ready to work for you.
Please run for Governor.
Heather DuBois Bourenane