It looks like the stalemate between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the 14 Senate Democrats who have fled the state is not going to be resolved any time soon.
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."
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. [...]
"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. [...]
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.
And shame on MSNBC and CNN today who both aired Gov. Walker and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's press conference and cut away from it before they took any questions from reporters, again.