BIPARTISAN GROUP TO WALKER: VETO BILLS, DON’T STAIN LEGACY
MADISON, Wis. — A bipartisan group of political figures appealed to Gov. Scott Walker to avoid staining his legacy and behaving like a sore loser by signing legislation that would weaken the powers of the Democrat who defeated him.
Rather than notching another partisan victory in his final weeks in office, they said, Walker should think bigger. Think of your recently deceased father, they pleaded. Think of former President George H.W. Bush. Think of Christ.
“You can have a long, successful career ahead,” longtime Republican and major GOP donor Sheldon Lubar wrote to Walker in a deeply personal email. “Don’t stain it by this personal, poor-loser action. Ask yourself, what would my father say, what would the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, say?”
Walker, never one to shy away from a fight, gave no signs Thursday of tipping his hand. A spokesman said only that he was reviewing the bills. He’s been generally supportive of the measures in the past, without promising to sign or veto them.
The choice is whether to satisfy fellow Republicans, who passed the bills over objections from Democrats, or strike them down to let his successor, Tony Evers, take office under the same rules in place when Walker was in charge.
Democratic state Sen. Tim Carpenter asked Walker to consider the letter Bush left for his Democratic successor, Bill Clinton, wishing him well.
“Governor Walker, PLEASE do the right thing and leave Governor-elect Evers your best wishes for him, his family and the state of Wisconsin,” Carpenter said in a statement. “Governor Walker, what do you want your legacy to be?”
Charlie Sykes, a former conservative talk radio host in Milwaukee, made a similar appeal mentioning Bush, who died last week.
“Look at the way George H.W. Bush is being remembered and the way that he handled his transition after his very, very bitter defeat by Bill Clinton, the grace by which he handed over power,” Sykes told MSNBC. “I do think Governor Walker needs to reflect on the kind of legacy he’s going to leave.”
It’s not clear how his political prospects would be affected by signing the legislation. Walker won three elections pursuing a strongly conservative agenda, and he nearly won re-election last month despite heavy Democratic turnout.
Walker has six days after the bills are delivered to him to either sign them into law, allow them to become law without his signature or veto them. He may also be able to line-item veto portions of them, depending on how they are drafted and whether they spend money.
The GOP power grab in Wisconsin comes as Michigan Republicans vote on taking action before a Democratic governor takes over in that state. North Carolina lawmakers took similar steps two years ago.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker relaxes at the Billy Goat Tavern in 2015.