-By Daniel Bice
December 2, 2011- Welcome to the era of nonstop campaigning.
Gov. Scott Walker and his allies have already spent about $3 million in six media markets so they can air TV ads touting Walker's budget proposals and dissing the recall efforts.
"Oh, boy, they've been flooding the airwaves out here," said University of Wisconsin-Green Bay political science professor Michael Kraft. "On the channels we watch, there are four to six for Walker every evening. I've seen just a couple of the anti-Walker ones."
Rest assured, more is on the way.
The Greater Wisconsin Committee – a liberal nonprofit based in Madison – has begun airing a series of TV spots highlighting what it says is the negative impact of Walker's budget plan.
Numbers weren't immediately available on the size of Greater Wisconsin's media buy, but Republicans said they thought it would be big enough that a typical viewer would see its ads three or four times per week.
Michelle McGrorty, executive director of Greater Wisconsin, said the commercials are not yet available online.
"We never discuss the size of our buys, but it is substantial," McGrorty said.
Yes, it's the gubernatorial election that will never end.
While the two sides battle it out on air, opponents of Walker are on the ground collecting as many signatures as possible so they can force a recall election next year.
Walker has come under fire after proposing legislation to curb collective bargaining for most public employees. Voters earlier removed two Republican state senators for helping push through Walker's anti-union bill.
Earlier this week, United Wisconsin, the group leading the recall effort, said it had gathered more than 300,000 signatures in 12 days – more than half the total needed. There is no way to verify the group's signature count because the petitions will not become public until they turned into state regulators.
Overall, United Wisconsin has to collect about 540,000 signatures.
United Wisconsin launched the recall effort on Nov. 15 and has 60 days to gather the signatures. Meagan Mahaffey, executive director of the group, said it plans to collect 600,000 to 700,000 signatures to provide a buffer in case Walker and his allies challenge the validity of some signatures.
In recent days, Walker has been saying he is not going to underestimate the effort to oust him from office.
"Do I take the recall seriously? Absolutely," Walker said this week at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Orlando, Fla. "Unions spent $40 million on six state Senate recall elections in my state. I spent $13 million running for governor. So if there's that much outside influence, I'm going to take that seriously no matter what."