Wisconsin's Walker takes on critics as recall effort begins

MILWAUKEE Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:38pm EST

Wisconsin State Governor Scott Walker speaks after signing the ceremonial bill, after the Republican-controlled House and Senate eliminated almost all collective bargaining for most public workers, at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin March 11, 2011. The House and Senate approved the restrictions on collective bargaining by public employees that Walker (R-WI) has insisted are needed for the state and local governments deal with projected budget gaps. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

Wisconsin State Governor Scott Walker speaks after signing the ceremonial bill, after the Republican-controlled House and Senate eliminated almost all collective bargaining for most public workers, at the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin March 11, 2011. The House and Senate approved the restrictions on collective bargaining by public employees that Walker (R-WI) has insisted are needed for the state and local governments deal with projected budget gaps.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Hauck

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MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wasted no time taking on critics who launched an effort to recall him on Tuesday, saying that protests outside his home were "crossing the line" and showed disregard for families in his suburban Milwaukee neighborhood.

Opponents have been protesting outside Walker's private home as part of their campaign to remove Walker from office next year. They officially launched a drive on Tuesday to collect 540,208 signatures needed within 60 days to force a recall election in the spring.

Republican Walker was elected in November, 2010 and immediately pushed through the legislature a new law limiting

the collective bargaining power of public sector unions. The move, which he said was necessary to balance state finances, outraged union members and Democrats, who vowed to recall him.

Walker made his comments Tuesday morning on conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes' program on WTMJ-AM. A rally was planned by recall organizers on Tuesday with buses taking Walker opponents to a local park.

The debate over the union law and Walker's stance has polarized the state.

On Monday, the website of one of the main grassroots groups behind the recall effort shut down and Democrats accused Republicans of being behind a cyber attack.

The state Democratic Party called on Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, to launch a full investigation with the assistance of the FBI.

On Tuesday, The Republican Party of Wisconsin and Governor Walker's campaign launched a fundraising website called "Stand with Governor Walker" website to help Walker in his fight against the recall effort.

Walker aired his first ad of the campaign during the Green Bay Packers game with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, featuring a recently-elected Waukesha School Board member praising Walker's education reforms.

Karin Sue Rajnicek is quoted as saying that she was worried the state budget would reduce the money for the Waukesha school district.

"But Governor Walker -- he gave us options that reduced our biggest costs so that we could put more money back into our classrooms," she said, referring to the union curbs.

Most recent polls show that there are few undecided voters in Wisconsin and that the recall vote could be close.

A poll by Democratic-leaning group Public Policy Polling released on October 26 showed Walker leading all possible opponents in the recall except for former Senator Russ Feingold, who has said he is not interested in running. But Walker's lead was narrow over some of his more likely opponents. Democrats have not yet settled on a candidate to oppose him.

A survey for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute between October 23 and 26 showed a virtual dead heat with 49 percent opposed to recalling Walker and 47 percent in favor.

(Writing and reporting by John Rondy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)

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