Note to GOP senators: Abandon Walker and save your jobs

As a former Republican aide in the Wisconsin State Senate, part of my job was to help read the governor, and advise my senator accordingly. If I were still advising a Republican state senator, this is what I’d say right now.


This governor is not hard to read. He’s a giant fiery ball of ambition. When he sneezes he compares it to how Reagan sneezed. His first major act, after netting a modest 52 percent in a GOP wave election, was to pick the most dangerous and inflammatory political fight he could think of. His next major act was to propose a budget that might get him re-elected in Texas, but not Wisconsin. Why?

Clearly he doesn’t care about getting re-elected in Wisconsin. He doesn’t care about protests, or poll numbers, or recalls. He barely even cares if what he’s proposing passes. So long as he gets attention for proposing it.

Scott Walker is driving a fast bus to Washington, estimated time of arrival 2012. Fourteen of his Senate passengers jumped off and hid the moment they knew what was happening. The other 19 might want to wake up before their own districts disappear in the rear-view.

I’m not the only political watcher walking around Madison wondering what’s holding the GOP caucuses together on the Walker-for-Vice-President express. Saunter into a bar near the Capitol, find people in suits and eavesdrop for five minutes. It requires only a two-year sense of history to identify the last photogenic gubernatorial novice who turned into a conservative folk hero when a presidential candidate needed some far-right street cred.

So attention Alberta Darling. Attention Dan Kapanke. Attention Dale Schultz (well, Dale, you already get it, apparently, but you need some support). Attention all you Republican senators who need a few union votes to hold your districts. I served alongside you and I respect you. So pretend I’m your staffer.

You’re toast if you stay on this bus. Here’s your way off it.

Get three of you together. Congratulations. You’re now the governor of Wisconsin.

Call a press conference. Here’s your spin: The truth. It goes something like this.

“We’re here to repair the budget. We accept the union concessions – budget repaired. Beyond that this state is not ready to allow.

“Some of us Republican senators support an end to public bargaining. Others of us have reservations. But it does none of us, or our constituents, any good to lose our majority and see whatever is done now quickly undone.

“We’ve heard from our constituents, and we’re here to represent their spoken wishes – by ending this destructive impasse and getting to work, together with the governor, passing a good, solvent, conservative budget.”

Then you stand back and let all the people in the caucus who hate collective bargaining and don’t need the union votes to blast you a new one. You’ll get some nasty letters and e-mails and phone calls. But you’ll all get to keep your jobs. You’ll have a chance at holding the majority you just won in the Republican wave of a lifetime. You can let Baby Guv pilot his fast bus to Washington.

And not be on board if it crashes.

Editor’s note. This blog was written by Bob Schwoch, University of Wisconsin professor of communications and a former chief-of-staff to Republican Sens. Carol Buettner and Peggy Rosenzweig, as well as Democratic Rep. Peggy Krusick. This blog was originally published by Jack Craver (The Sconz) at the Isthmus/The Daily Page in Madison and is reposted here with the permission of the author.

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