Moderate Wisconsin Republican Once Called Walker’s Union Plan ‘Radical’

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Democrats and their allies in Wisconsin have identified weak links in the Republican state Senate conference and are tugging away, hoping to make them break. One of them, who seems prepared to deal, once called the idea of eliminating collective bargaining rights for public sector workers “radical.”

“They’re in the minority but holding some cards so you’ve got to negotiate, you can’t give up the whole ship,” said Sen. Luther Olsen (R). He and other state senate Republicans have been discussing their options among themselves all day, to figure out their next move.

This is the same Luther Olsen who, at the outset of this fight, wasn’t fully on board with Governor Scott Walker’s plan.From the Journal Sentinel last month:

“The concept is pretty radical,” said Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). “It affects a lot of good working people.”

Olsen said he could support the changes on pensions and health care but had reservations about taking away other bargaining rights.

Democrats think the Republican deliberations could make or break the fight. We’ll see what comes out of them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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