Wisconsin Gov. Walker pledges to work with Democrats
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker called Wednesday for mending the jagged edges of a deeply divided state, pledging a renewed focus on bipartisanship and jobs in the wake of Senate recall elections even as he dismissed Democrats' talk of recalling him...
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker called Wednesday for mending the jagged edges of a deeply divided state, pledging a renewed focus on bipartisanship and jobs in the wake of Senate recall elections even as he dismissed Democrats' talk of recalling him in 2012.
Walker said the results of the Senate recalls, in which his party held that house but lost two senators, vindicated his focus on jobs and the state budget but also showed that voters want their leaders to work more cooperatively.
Upbeat following a late election night in which he telephoned winners from both parties, the Republican governor said he would push forward on priorities like education reform and a bill to spur venture capital investing despite calls Wednesday by Democrats to make him the first Wisconsin governor to be recalled next year.
Voters "want us to do more working together," he said Wednesday in an interview in his Capitol office. "I'm not pretending that everything is going to automatically be perfect at the snap of a finger, but I think the best thing we can do is start with small things and keep working."
Tuesday's results failed to produce a decisive victory for Democrats or to kill their plans of removing Walker from office over his legislation to end most collective bargaining for public employees in the state.
To trigger a recall election of Walker, Democrats would need to gather 540,208 signatures, or one-quarter of the nearly 2.2 million votes cast in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Recall petitions cannot be circulated until early November and cannot be offered for filing with state elections officials until Jan. 3 of next year, according to the state Government Accountability Board.
Democrats said Walker showed little interest in bipartisanship before his poll numbers started to drop and the Senate recalls picked up steam. Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said he expected his side to push on toward a Walker recall next year.
"The historic gains made tonight to restore balance and accountability to our state, and restore Wisconsin values, will continue when the entire state weighs in on the November 2012 elections -- and with the recall of Scott Walker himself," Tate wrote.
Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said he believed there was still an appetite among Democrats to take on Walker in a recall election.
"Gov. Walker has divided the state of Wisconsin like no other state official has, and I think a recall of Scott Walker is still very real," said Ross, whose group weighed in repeatedly on the Senate recall elections.
Republicans scoffed at the idea that the recall effort against Walker or any other GOP senators might still move forward after Tuesday's election results.
"This is a huge blow to Democrats. They wanted to use this to build momentum against Walker," said Stephan Thompson, executive director of the state Republican Party. "They fell short and this is a huge victory for Wisconsin's middle-class taxpayers."