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. Now that we do have divided government, it's now more important than ever that we do that," says Barca.
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. 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," says State Sen. Tim Cullen, D - Janesville.
"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 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 wouldn't attend-- Rep. Mark Pocan and Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, both 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.
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