OTR Interviews

Are AWOL Democrats Facing Total Recall in Wisconsin?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 28, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, those 14 defiant Wisconsin senate Democrats better not assume their jobs are safe. At this hour, some risk getting booted. Some Wisconsin citizens are upset that the 14 Democrats ran away to another state rather than stay home and vote on the budget. Some groups are now chanting recall, and our next guest is headlining one of the groups. Dan Hunt is chairman of Taxpayers to Recall Robert Wirch, one of the 14 missing senate Democrats. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. So how far have you gotten on this recall petition? And why do you want to recall this Democratic senator?

HUNT: Well, to start with the last question first, we actually want to recall Senator Wirch because he left his job. And it is solely that issue. He is no longer on the job representing us as his constituents. And as a result, we feel that because of the drastic action he took to leave the state to avoid a vote that we need to take drastic action, as well, and have him recalled.

As far as how far we've come, we started the action to recall him last Thursday. And in Wisconsin law, according to Wisconsin law, we have 60 days in order to gather the signatures that are required for the recall effort. And so we have started that effort, and actually, we have several signatures so far.

VAN SUSTEREN: What -- how many do you have to have in order to succeed at a recall?

HUNT: Well, in our particular case, in district 22, we have to have 13,537 signatures in order for the recall to be successful. We have set a goal as a committee to have 18,000 signatures altogether.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, I take it -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that you did not vote for Senator Wirch to begin with. I mean, he was never your candidate, even if he were back in the state.

HUNT: Well, actually, Greta, it has nothing to do with voting for or against Senator Wirch. Believe it or not...

VAN SUSTEREN: I understand that, but I suspect that if you were a fan of his, it's unlikely you'd be spearheading this. So I'm just curious. Did you -- you didn't vote -- did you vote last time?

HUNT: Well, I did vote in the last election. But -- but Greta, actually, this is a bipartisan effort. We have several people who are signing the petition who are actually working as volunteers in our organization who actually have been strong supporters of Senator Wirch in the past.

So this is not an effort of people who were against him to begin with to rise up and have him recalled. This is actually an action of the citizenry of district 22 who are saying, Senator Wirch, get back on the job. It's your -- it's your -- it's your place to represent us as your constituents, and so you need to be in Madison, representing us in the statehouse, not in a hotel in Illinois. So this has nothing to do with who voted for him or who didn't. It has entirely everything to do with him not being there on the job.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, and I got -- I just want -- the only reason I ask, just so you know, is so I want all the cards laid out so that every -- you know, everyone knew where everyone was standing on this particular issue. All right. Now, in terms of recall, are there other senators, do you know, in the state who are -- where there's sort of been a groundswell to recall them, or is this the only senator who has this petition drive going?

HUNT: Actually, right now, there are, to my knowledge, two other recall efforts in the state of Wisconsin. So we're one of three efforts currently that are taking place within the state of Wisconsin for recalls.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard anything from the senator? Has he reached out to his -- I take it -- he's your senator, right?

HUNT: He is my senator, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Has he reached out to his constituents at all to explain why he's gone AWOL or why he's not coming back? Have you heard from him?

HUNT: Actually, we have reached out to him. In fact, the day he left the Senate, I e-mailed him and called his office. And we've gotten no response back. I can verify that for several -- literally hundreds of his constituents. No one from his office nor him personally have contacted us and let us know why -- really he left. Now, we understand he left because he didn't want to take a vote on the bill. But we've contacted his office. They are not contacting us back.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard when he intends to come back?

HUNT: I have not, no, not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so once you accumulate these 13,537 -- I think I got the number half right, or close to right...

HUNT: That's correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the next step then?

HUNT: The next step is actually for a review process. It's a 31-day review process of several steps. And finally, the government accounting board -- accountability board will -- will either confirm the recall or not after 31 days. And then shortly thereafter, there will be an actual election. Senator Wirch will automatically be on the ballot. And then people can declare to run against him. They'll have two weeks to file petitions, and we have an election in district 22.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it if he shows up tomorrow and votes before the drop-dead deadline by the governor (INAUDIBLE) ultimatum that you might be inclined not to petition to recall him, or am I wrong?

HUNT: Well, what we've said publicly, and we continue to say, that if Senator Wirch does come back that we will listen to what he says about the reasons why he left. Now, we all know, again, that he left because of the vote on the budget repair bill, but we need to hear from him specifically why he left the state senate.

And then we also feel very strongly that he needs to make an apology to his constituents for abandoning his post. We talked to a Navy veteran today who signed our position who said, One thing I learned in the Navy is you never abandon your post. And that's what Senator Wirch has done. He's abandoned his post. He's abandoned his constituents. And he needs to get back to Madison.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dan, thank you.

HUNT: Thank you, Greta.