Bi­par­ti­san ef­fort urges Walker to veto Wis. GOP power play

The Detroit News - - News - BY SCOTT BAUER As­so­ci­ated Press

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 un­bills. der the same rules in place when Walker was in charge.

“It just gets back to what does he want to be re­mem­bered for,” said Demo­cratic state Sen. Jon Er­pen­bach. “It’s time to set aside your po­lit­i­cal be­liefs and do what’s best for your state.”

An­other Demo­crat, 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.”

Evers said he planned to make a per­sonal re­quest to Walker for a veto. If that failed, Evers said, he would con­sider le­gal ac­tion.

Lubar, who first shared his email with the Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel, urged Walker to con­sider his fu­ture.

At 51, Walker is leav­ing of­fice at a young age. Al­though he’s not said what he plans to do next, he may want to stay ac­tive in Wis­con­sin pol­i­tics, per­haps to run for the U.S. Se­nate in 2022.

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.

Lubar said he voted for Walker in the past but cast his bal­lot for Evers in Novem­ber be­cause he feared Walker had put his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions ahead of what’s best for the state. There is still time for Walker to end on a high note, Lubar wrote.

“I ask you not to de­stroy your rep­u­ta­tion,” Lubar wrote on Tues­day.

Walker has 10 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 lineitem 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.

It was Repub­li­can Assem­bly Speaker Robin Vos, not Walker, who was the driv­ing force be­hind the Draft­ing notes show they orig­i­nated with Vos’ of­fice. Vos first hinted at the need to take ac­tion just hours af­ter Walker con­ceded de­feat.

Vos and Walker have clashed in the past, and with Walker’s pend­ing de­par­ture, the speaker is try­ing to po­si­tion him­self as the state’s most pow­er­ful Repub­li­can. A Walker veto would re­mind Vos that, at least un­til Jan. 7, Walker is still in charge.

The mea­sures make it more dif­fi­cult for Evers to undo the legacy of Walker and Repub­li­cans, who have had full control of Wis­con­sin’s gov­ern­ment for eight years. That in­cludes pro­tect­ing a work re­quire­ment for some peo­ple re­ceiv­ing state health care and block­ing Evers from with­draw­ing Wis­con­sin from a mul­ti­state law­suit seek­ing re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act.

The bills could also make it harder for Evers to rene­go­ti­ate a $3 bil­lion sub­sidy for a Fox­conn Tech­nol­ogy Group man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity, a deal spear­headed by Walker.

The gover­nor’s long his­tory of clash­ing with Democrats doesn’t give his op­po­nents much hope he will change course and is­sue sub­stan­tial ve­toes.

State Sen. Mark Miller joined the cho­rus of those ask­ing Walker to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach as he pre­pares to leave of­fice on Jan 7.

“Wis­dom is know­ing the right path to take. In­tegrity is tak­ing it,” Miller said in the Democrats’ weekly ra­dio ad­dress. “Scott Walker would be wise not to sign these bills. I’m not hold­ing my breath.”



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