During Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) press conference on Monday — held in response to state Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller’s (D-WI) letter calling for a meeting at the Illinois state line — Walker and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald both claimed that they were close to a deal with key Senate Dems to get them to return to the state. And in response, the Dems are saying no way, that didn’t happen — and that Walker and Fitzgerald’s claims have only made it less likely.
During Walker’s press conference, Fitzgerald told the press that he’d had other discussions with the lead negotiators, state Sens. Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch, about coming back.
“At no time did Sen. Miller become a part of those discussions. But what I really thought I was doing was negotiating with those two senators to come back on their own,” said Fitzgerald, adding that they also believed the two could get a “magic number” of five others to come back with them, in order to provide full political cover.
“By Tuesday, a promise was given to me that that in fact was gonna happen,” said Fitzgerald. “And on Wednesday, they didn’t show up.”
And like Walker, he said Miller was to blame for ruining attempts at a deal. And also like Walker, Fitzgerald also speculated about hidden interests motivating the Dems: “You don’t know who to negotiate with, you don’t know if labor is pulling the strings.”
However, the state Senate Dems are now pushing back — including one of those two key Dems, Bob Jauch.
As WisPolitics reports:
Dem Sen. Bob Jauch fired back at the guv this afternoon, accusing him of distorting the truth in “some vain attempt to suggest he’s being serious” about reaching a deal.
“Never, never has there been a suggestion that Tim Cullen and I would somehow abandon the other 12 for the sake of cutting a deal,” Jauch said. “That’s just an outrageous lie.”
And as Greg Sargent reports, one of the more liberal caucus members, state Sen. Chris Larson, is saying that Walker and Fitzgerald’s comments have now ruined any chance of Cullen and Jauch coming around to him:
“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.”
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald has sent a sternly worded letter to Mark Miller, in response to Miller’s own letter this morning — which Fitzgerald called “bizarre.” The letter, which can be read here, says in part:
As you know, your opportunity to compromise and amend the bill was on the floor of the state Senate. As you know, you forfeited that right and opportunity when you decided to flee the state instead of doing your job.
Your stubbornness in trying to ignore the last election and protect the broken status quo is truly shameful. While we wait for you and your colleagues to finally show up, Senate Republicans continue to stand ready to do the job we were elected to do, here in Wisconsin. I hope you are enjoying your vacation, and your vacation from reality.