By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker is leaving office just like he came in — with a flourish.
Just days after winning election to the governor’s office in 2010, Walker killed a proposal to have high-speed rail in Wisconsin and released his anti-union Act 10 proposal within weeks of actually taking office, sparking massive protests, vaulting him onto the national political stage and eventually setting up his run in 2015 for president.
Now, as Walker prepares to leave office on Jan. 7, he’s signaling his support for an array of Republican proposals designed to weaken Democrats and Tony Evers, who narrowly defeated him on Election Day.
In stark contrast, Evers hasn’t been saying much and isn’t planning to make demands of Walker, marking a contrast to what Walker did to outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010.
“He’s a different kind of governor,” said Carrie Lynch, a spokeswoman for Evers. “He doesn’t go run around making demands of people. That’s just not his style.”
Evers, the 67-year-old state schools superintendent and former teacher, has tried to strike a more conciliatory tone. He has said he wants to work with Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature, even though GOP lawmakers have been meeting in private to discuss ways to protect laws enacted under Walker and limit Evers’ powers as governor.
“(Walker) had a penchant for the dramatic,” said Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson, of Milwaukee. “No one would accuse Evers of that.”
Evers will be content to work behind the scenes, Larson said.
“If it gets to the same end, then it’s fine,” Larson said. “You’ve got to give Evers time to work his magic.”
Evers has deemed the Republican’s planned lame-duck legislative session an attempt to “cling to power.” But he also has said he didn’t want to draw a “line in the sand” over what they may vote on.
One of the ideas Republicans have discussed would be moving Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential primary from April to March. With Democratic turnout expected to be high in the presidential primary, switching the election to a different date might make it easier for the Walker-appointed state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly to win re-election that April.
The state Supreme Court is controlled 4-3 by conservative judges, giving Republicans a strong ally to uphold their policies.
Walker said on Thursday that he was also open to changing the makeup of the state Building Commission, which votes on approving capital projects on university campuses and state properties, as well as that of a board overseeing the state economic development agency, which Evers has said he wants to dissolve.
Republicans who control the Legislature aren’t saying exactly what else they will push, although a number of other ideas have been floated and Democrats are nervous about how far Republicans might go. Republicans made similar moves in North Carolina two years ago and are contemplating such moves in Michigan this year, as well.
There is a precedent for lame-duck sessions in Wisconsin.
Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2010 convened one in December that year after Doyle lost in an attempt to enact new labor contracts. The attempt failed after two Democratic lawmakers refused to vote for the agreements. That set the stage for the Act 10, which Walker proposed in February 2011. The law, passed that same year, all but deprived public workers of their collective-bargaining rights and required them to pay more for their retirement and health care benefits.
Evers, and Democrats, would like Walker to not leave office without ending the state’s involvement in a federal lawsuit seeking the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But Walker said Thursday that it doesn’t matter what Wisconsin does because the lawsuit will continue, regardless.
Still, Evers’ spokeswoman said no more taxpayer money should be spent on the case, which Evers has promised to drop on his first day in office.