Wisconsin Runaway Dems Say They are Staying Put
March 7, 2011
(ChattahBox Political News)— The news of their return is greatly exaggerated, say the runaway Wisconsin Democrats-cum-folk heroes. The group of 14 senators who fled the state on Feb. 17 to deny the Republicans a quorum to pass Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting budget repair bill, are denying a Wall Street Journal article that reported on their imminent return as a done deal. State Sen. Chris Larson released a statement in response, saying “We won’t come back until worker’s rights are preserved,” end of story.
The Sunday Wall Street Journal piece, entitled “Democrats to End Union Standoff,” relied on a statement attributed to Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller indicating the 14 Democrats would return at some point. But Miller’s statement was not enclosed with quote marks. Whatever he said was paraphrased by the paper.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “Sen. Mark Miller said he and his fellow Democrats intend to let the full Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget-repair” bill, which includes the proposed limits on public unions’ collective-bargaining rights.”
Miller’s spokesman Mike Browne has since clarified his comments, according to Talking Points Memo, repudiating the conclusion drawn by the Wall Street Journal.
“It is true that negotiations were dealt a setback since last Thursday when Governor Walker responded to a sincere Democratic compromise offer with a press conference. However, Senate Democrats have continued to reach out to the Governor and Republicans through the weekend.”
“Democrats remain hopeful that Governor Walker and legislative Republicans will, in the near future, listen to the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites who believe they should come to the negotiating table in good faith to reach an agreement that resolves our fiscal issues without taking away worker rights and without hurting programs that help provide health insurance for working families and prescription drugs for seniors.”
State Sen. Chris Larson also released a statement, denying the Wall Street Journal’s report, saying the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper cherry picked a statement of Miller’s and ran with it.
“Sen. Miller’s comments are taken out of context in the Wall Street Journal article just released. Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans. Unfortunately, the WSJ fished for the quote they wanted, skipping this key step in logic: we won’t come back until worker’s rights are preserved,” said Larson.
And Miller’s spokesman, as well as state Sen. Bob Jauch, told Reuters on Monday that there is no deal on the table with Walker for the Democrats’ imminent return.
“I think the situation has not been resolved,” said Mike Browne, a spokesman for Wisconsin senate minority leader Mark Miller, while adding: “I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that at some point the Democrats don’t return.”
Jauch added, “I think he’s speaking the truth that at some point – and I don’t know when soon is – at some point we have to say we’ve done all we can.”
So there you have it. Walker is continuing to refuse to budge on stripping public employees of their collective bargaining rights, while his extreme policies plummet in the polls and public support is strongly on the side of the unions.
When the 14 Democrats do decide to return to Wisconsin, whatever the outcome of the bill stripping workers of their rights, the Democrats have already won and Walker has lost big time in the court of public opinion.
Photo Source: Madison, Wisconsin protest/Jessie Reeder’s Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution.