Governor Scott Walker held a press conference this afternoon in which he hammered away at missing state senate Dems in an effort to force them to cave and return to Wisconsin to pass his proopsal rolling back public employee bargaining rights.
But if anything, Walker’s presser has only stiffened Dem resolve to hold out longer. That’s what Dems agreed upon this afternoon in a private conversation after Walker’s appearance today, one senate Dem tells me.
In the presser, Walker made the surprising claim that two senate Democrats were privately negotiating with him and senate Republicans to reach a deal to end the impasse. As Eric Kleefeld reports, Walker singled out Dem senators Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch, claiming that they had met with Walker and Republicans near the Illinois state line in an effort to reach some kind of compromise. Walker then charged that Dem leaders keep blocking these efforts.
But in going public with this claim about Cullen and Jauch, Walker has only succeeded in antagonizing them and making them less inclined to deal with him, senator Chris Larson just told me in an interview.
“Walker just knocked down the last two people who thought Walker could be reasonable,” said Larson, who said he had heard this directly from the senators in question on a call after the Walker presser. “He threw those two guys under the bus. It hardened their resolve.”
Jauch himself has adamantly denied Walker’s characterization of ongoing discussions, saying he has not been trying to reach a deal with the governor independent of other Dems.
It was widely rumored and reported last night that Dems were close to reaching some kind of agreement to come back to Wisconsin. Those reports appear to have been overstated, and if anything, Larson said, Walker’s presser has now made it even less likely that Dems will return.
“Walker makes a good enemy,” Larson noted.