MAPLE BLUFF (WKOW) -- One week ago, Governor Scott Walker was celebrating his win in the recall election. On Tuesday afternoon, he hosted a cookout, hoping to bridge the state's political divide.
The media wasn't allowed inside the Governor's Mansion for the "Brat Summit", in an effort to give the lawmakers a more relaxed atmosphere to speak their minds with one another. But reporters were able to catch up with some of the politicians on their way in. Many said they were looking forward to talking civilly about the big issues.
Assembly Minority Leader Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) says there are many bills waiting for lawmakers to get to work solving important problems in Wisconsin.
"It doesn't have to be our bills, but lets at least find a starting point where we can come together," says Barca. "Now that we do have divided government, it's now more important than ever that we do that."
Some of the legislators who talked with 27 News before the meeting say they want to work on economic development, job creation and the environment.
Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) says they have to start by regaining respect for one another.
"I think that's probably the thing that's been lost the most over the last 16 months, so I think that's where you start," says Nygren.
The governor's idea was to bring Democrats and Republicans together to help them get to know each other as people, not just legislative opponents. While the lawmakers had hoped they'd talk about issues, when they came out of the mansion, many said it was a more personal discussion.
"There's a difference between having a bratwurst and having people interested in your ideas and wanting to work in a bipartisan way," says state Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville). "That has yet to be seen. But this is a good start, it's good to talk to people actually, about something other than politics. We're talking about our kids and our grandkids. It was a very nice time. I'm very glad I came."
"This is a chance for us to get together after the recall and do some healing talk about where we can find common ground and it's a good first step," says Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford).
It's a first step lawmakers, including Governor Walker, hope can bring both sides together when they meet at the State Capitol again.
"I'm not naive to suggest that after today, just after having enough beer and brats we'll automatically magically make sure that everything is better, but I think it's a good start," says Walker.
All 132 lawmakers were invited. About 30 couldn't make it because of prior commitments. Two Democrats, Rep. Mark Pocan and Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, didn't attend, saying the governor needs to show he is willing to work with them first. One Republican, Rep. Steve Nass, refused to attend saying he didn't want to share a brat with Democrats.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Nearly 100 state lawmakers are expected to gather at the Governor's mansion in Maple Bluff Tuesday afternoon for a "beer and brat summit" with Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin).
Gov. Walker announced he would have the event during his recall election victory speech on June 5.
Walker says he is hosting the event as a show of goodwill and hopes it will help Republicans and Democrats to get in the spirit of working together on future legislation.
The event, schedule from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., is closed to the media and the public in an effort to make it a more comfortable event for the lawmakers to exchange ideas.
Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will talk with lawmakers about what they expect from the event and will have live reports on 27 News at 5 and 6.
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