Opponents of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) were expected to do well in their efforts to recall him. Few expected them to do this well.

Democrats seeking to recall Gov. Scott Walker filed more than a million signatures Tuesday, virtually guaranteeing a historic recall election against him later this year.

It would mark the first gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin history and only the third one in U.S. history. Organizers Tuesday also handed in 845,000 recall signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, as well as recall petitions against four GOP state senators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.

The sheer number of signatures being filed against Walker — nearly as many as the total votes cast for the governor in November 2010 and about twice as many as those needed to trigger a recall election — ensure the election will be held, said officials with the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the group that launched the Walker recall.

Keep in mind, the minimum number of signatures required was roughly 540,000. By collecting over 1 million signatures, Walker’s opponents have not only guaranteed a recall election, they’ve also demonstrated a level of organizational might that seemed almost impossible to pull off.

When Walker went after collective-bargaining rights — without campaigning on the issue — he apparently woke a sleeping giant.

There will be a review process to ensure the integrity of the signatures, but state Democratic Party officials said they already removed “an undisclosed number of signatures that were duplicates, illegible or seemingly fake.” With such an enormous buffer, no one on either side seriously doubts Dems will have more than enough.

There is, however, still plenty of work for the governor’s opponents to do. For one thing, they don’t have a candidate. For another, Walker is already raising an enormous amount of money.

Indeed, the Republican governor appears eager to nationalize the recall process. Walker said yesterday he was “too busy” to do interviews with reporters from Wisconsin, but he managed to find time to talk to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The point wasn’t subtle — the governor hopes far-right activists nationwide will rally behind him by, at a minimum, offering financial support.

The schedule for the recall election will be set once the signatures have been reviewed. It’s going to be a wild one.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.