Wisconsin Republican recall drive gathers steam, WI GOP senator leaves his family for a young lobbyist; anti-Dem campaign is led by anonymous, out-of-state anti-immigration activists

The drive to recall the Wisonsin senators who helped pass the bill that took away state workers' collective bargaining rights is going great guns:

Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That's up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures -- 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election -- by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.

In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the alloted time remaining.

Though the national media has largely treated the Wisconsin story as resolved, now that Republicans used a procedural maneuver to pass Scott Walker's measure, the new signature numbers suggest the GOP's maneuver may only be giving more momentum to the recall drives. The recall fight has drawn the attention of national Dems, who are keeping attention on the battle in hopes that it will have ramifications in the 2012 Congressional and presidential elections, by galvanizing the Dem base, persuading independents that the GOP has overreached, and reawakening the affection of blue collar whites for unions.

(Thanks, Cowicide!)

In related news, Wisconsin state Sen. Randy Hopper, R-Fond du Lac, reportedly left his wife and children for a lobbyist 20 years his junior and moved out of his district to the state capitol. His constituents discovered that he no longer lived in his district when protestors went to his house and discovered that his wife and maid were ready to sign the recall petition.

Hilariously, Hopper had previously declined to appear in his district's St Paddy's day parade because he was worried about "death threats" -- but now it appears that the only threat to Hopper was the possibility that his estranged wife might confront him about his infidelities in front of the voters.

(via Reddit)

You might have heard that there was a drive on to recall the Democratic senators who hid out in Ohio Illinois in order to prevent a vote on the Scott Walker budget. It's true: the newly formed American Patriotic Recall Coalition in Utah has targetted these senators. These out-of-staters are a little odd, though -- for one thing, they're run by Dan Baltes, a freelance paralegal who also serves as director of Americans Against Immigration Amnesty. The rest of the APRC's board is anonymous, identified only by first names. Smells like astroturf to me -- I wonder what they've got to hide? Possibly the source of their funding?