Walker takes to the grill at bipartisan picnic

Governor, legislators attempt to bridge partisan divide

Published On: Jun 13 2012 02:20:26 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 13 2012 08:17:07 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Gov. Scott Walker donned a white apron on Tuesday to man the grill at a bipartisan picnic he is hosting just a week after winning a recall election.

A bipartisan group of nearly 100 state lawmakers attended the Tuesday cookout at the governor's mansion. Walker dubbed it a brat summit.

Earlier on Tuesday, the governor said he thought the political picnic was necessary.

"We don't have any false pretense to think that everything is suddenly going to be magical after today, but it's a good start," he said. "When I served in the Legislature, Ii tried to remind people that you never want to personalize your differences, because your opponent today could be your ally tomorrow."

To that end, the beer was flowing and the brats sizzling at the governor's mansion in the hopes of cooking up some legislative goodwill.

Some protesters and members of media greeted lawmakers and staffers outside the mansion's gates as they entered. The media weren't allowed on the residence grounds as the governor worked the grill for some 98 lawmakers in attendance and more than 200 members of their staff.

While the event was social in nature, some legislators said that they were hoping there could be legislative outcomes.

"If nothing else, if we agreed that we would attempt to come forward with a couple different bills and in the next 60 to 90 days that would certainly be a great outcome of today's 'Bratfest,'" said state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.

"Anything is possible," said state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette. "Ii think there could be a potential for recall reform, jobs bills. There's a lot of opportunities that could come out of this."

Republicans and Democrats who attended the event say it was a positive first step to begin to heal some of the wounds of the past 18 months, when a fight over union rights culminated in Walker's recall.

But Democrats also say they are waiting to see more substantive signs that Walker is serious about working across party lines.

Lawmakers agreed that the last year has certainly been no picnic for those seeking to do the people's business.

"Every conversation leads to more conversations and the key is for us to talk with other legislators who may have the will to try to do something ," said state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar.

The Legislature isn't scheduled to be in session before early next year. To pass any legislation, the governor would have to call a special session or lawmakers would have to agree to convene.

It's unclear if that would happen before the November legislative election.

For more on the brat summit, visit the Channel 3000 Storify live blog.