WI House Dems Warn Gov. Walker Not To Cross NFL Packers

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February 18, 2011 6:13 a.m.
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may be engaged in a high-stakes political battle with Democrats and state workers, but he’s playing with fire by clashing with the Green Bay Packers, warn two Democratic members of the state’s delegation in the U.S. House.

In a match-up between Walker and the Packers, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), a popular former county prosecutor in the state, says his money is on his Superbowl champions.

“I wouldn’t want to be going up against the Packers right now,” he said.

“Yeah, I like those odds,” remarked Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).Seven current and former Packers signed a letter in support of the AFL-CIO’s efforts to derail Walker’s plans. Those who signed include: Curtis Fuller, Chris Jackie, Charles Jordan, Bob Long, Steve Okoniewski, Brady Poppinga and Jason Spitz.

Less than two weeks ago, when the the Packers won the Superbowl and toted the Lombardi trophy back to Wisconsin, Walker had nothing but praise for the “people’s team” — and basked in their triumph. But Packers players are members of the National Football League Players Association, and some current and former Packers have teamed up with the state workers to mount a serious defense of collective bargaining rights.

Baldwin and Kind are stuck in Washington dealing with the national budget and GOP attempts to grapple with the spiraling deficit and slash this year’s federal government spending. But both are in regular contact with their state Democratic counterparts who Thursday fled the Capitol to prevent Walker and Republicans from reaching a quorum and passing a budget that would deny state workers bargaining rights.

Kind is standing squarely behind his Democratic friends in the state Senate and sent a letter to Walker Thursday asking him to withdraw his budget.

The reason state workers are so outraged by Walker’s actions, Kind said, is because they spent all last year negotiating and making $100 million in concessions with then-Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle only to have Republicans state legislators kill that bill then have a new governor come in and deny their negotiating rights.

“[Walker] didn’t even come back and sit down with them,” Kind told TPM. “Public employees are willing to contribute their pound of flesh. He wasn’t even willing to talk to the teacher unions despite 17 separate requests from them for meetings with him.”

Baldwin, who said she had been talking to Democratic state legislators throughout the last week, would not say exactly where all the lawmakers are holing up, or how long they plan to be there.

“They are committed to staying as long as they have to and doing what they have to do to slow this process down and protect the rights of state workers,” she said.

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