MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, spurred by anger over his successful push to take away nearly all public worker collective bargaining rights, blanketed the state Tuesday to launch an unprecedented effort to gather 540,000 signatures and force a recall election.
The petition drive began in the early morning hours with rallies and pajama parties. More than 100 events were planned across Wisconsin as supporters tried to collect an average of 9,000 signatures a day to meet the target.
Lisa Tareski of Milwaukee, who voted for Walker, was one of eight people who won a contest sponsored by the Democratic Party to be the first to sign the petitions.
"I want to fix my mistake and be one of the first to tell Scott Walker that he did not have my full support in 2010 and he never will," Tareski said in a statement.
Walker recall organizers hope to tap ongoing anger over the collective bargaining law, which took away public employee unions' power to negotiate anything other than wage increases no greater than inflation, and build on momentum from last week's vote rejecting a similar law in Ohio. Wisconsin doesn't allow for a referendum challenging its law to be put on the ballot, so opponents are targeting Walker and at least three state senators for recall.
Two potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates, along with a citizen who said she was never before involved in politics, on Tuesday delivered to state elections officials a signed filing required in the recall process.
"We will not only gather 540,000 signatures, we will return Wisconsin to the values we share," said Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive who is considering running against Walker. She was joined by Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters union and another possible candidate.
A rally to gather signatures from Walker's neighbors was planned for Tuesday outside his home in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa. Walker splits his time between that house and the governor's mansion in Madison.
He said organizing such an event outside his house, where his two teenage sons live, crossed the line.
"You see a total disregard for people's families and others here," Walker said in an interview Tuesday on WTMJ-AM in Milwaukee. "I do think that's crossing the line and I think most people in Wisconsin would agree with that, no matter where they're at in the spectrum."
Walker said at a Tuesday news conference in Racine, where he was announcing a project that would bring hundreds of jobs to Wisconsin, that he would remain focused on his campaign promise to grow jobs in the state by 250,000 before the four-year term he was elected to serve is over.
"We are going to be judged by that, whether it's judged in 2012 or 2014 we're not going to take our eye off that focus," Walker said. "To me the campaign is not any different than the campaign we're on in terms of jobs issues."
As ground was broken on the expansion for Ruud Lighting, a few dozen protesters chanted "Recall Walker!"
Walker launched his first television ad of the campaign Monday, defending his record while the words "Recall: No" appeared on the screen. The ad was running statewide, except in Milwaukee, according to Walker's campaign manager Keith Gilkes.
Walker said in an interview that he planned a series of ads with people talking about how his initiatives are working in their communities as well as his plans for the future.
"I think it's important for people to hear my positive vision," he said.
Governors have been recalled from office only twice in U.S. history, in North Dakota in 1921 and in California when voters removed Gov. Gray Davis from office in 2003.
Democrats do not yet have an announced candidate to take on Walker should enough signatures be collected to force an election. The earliest such an election could occur, without any expected delays in verifying the signatures or legal challenges, is March 27. Most expect any election would be later in the spring or in the summer.
Also Tuesday, Democrats filed recall petitions against Sens. Van Wanggaard of Racine, Pam Galloway of Wausau and Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls. Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in the state Senate after two GOP incumbents were ousted in recall elections this summer.
All three said they would vigorously defend their records.
Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this report from Racine, Wis.