Fleeing Wis. Dems: We're Exercising Our Rights
Crafty gov plans to slip through other bills while Dems are away
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Feb 21, 2011 1:45 AM CST
Protesters gather down State Street in Madison after a a rally outside the Wisconsin State Capitol on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Steve Apps)
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(Newser) – Call it the unfillibuster. Wisconsin Democrats still holed up in an Illinois hotel didn't turn tail and run out on a state bill vote slashing pay and rights for state workers—they exercised a political strategy, which they have every right to do, they argue. "For all of us who left the state, we believe we're standing up for democracy," said State Senator Juli Lassa, who is six months pregnant. Defense of the Dems, who are blocking the vote by denying the legislature a necessary quorum, followed Gov. Scott Walker's criticism that they're "hiding out." If "you want to participate in democracy, you've got to be in the arena, and the arena is right here in Madison," he told Fox News yesterday.

Walker is planning to punish the senators by holding votes on other key measures that don't require the presence of the Democrats because they're not financial bills, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The work of the Senate is not going to be held hostage just because the minority refuses to show up," said a spokesman for the Republicans. But Democats still say they're ready to stay away until Friday. "A true leader wouldn't force people into this situation, and the governor needs to learn his lesson," said the State Senate minority leader. One group is turning out—in force. Demonstrators opposed to the bill continued to gather in the streets and the capitol over the weekend.