Rep. Peter Barca is the Wisconsin Assembly Democrats Leader
The election results of the past week can only be viewed as a historic victory won by Wisconsin's middle-class and a rejection of Gov. Walker's extreme, divisive and hyperpartisan agenda.
It was the middle-class who took the fight into staunchly Republican territory and won two seats.
It was a coalition of Wisconsin progressives that worked together to prove to the country that Democrats can stand up and defeat extreme Republicans who favor powerful and extreme special interests at the expense of working, middle-class families.
It was the Republicans who barely managed to force recalls against three courageous Democrats and it was progressive, grassroots activists who stood up to defend leaders that fight for people instead of the wealthy out-of-state corporations.
Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans tried to push back by launching a ferocious barrage of dirty-tricks right out of Karl Rove's playbook. They ran fake candidates in primaries. They sent mailers out to Democratic voters with the wrong election date. They spent millions from the likes of the Koch brothers and other wealthy special interests to try and buy the elections.
But despite Gov. Walker's willingness to say or do anything to hold onto power, it was his party that paid the price at the ballot box.
Gone are Republican state Senators Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke who rubber-stamped Gov. Walker’s assault on working, middle-class families.
In their place are Senator-elect Jessica King and Senator-elect Jennifer Shilling, two strong progressive leaders that will work tirelessly in the legislature to create good-paying jobs and restore our shared values.
And Gov. Walker still has to face Democratic state Senators Bob Wirch, Jim Holperin and Dave Hansen, three of Wisconsin's strongest advocates for workers' rights, strong public schools, pristine natural resources and a thriving middle-class.
Democrats and those that stand for the middle-class have a lot to be proud of in Wisconsin, but the fight continues. It's clear that we have Gov. Walker on the ropes. He knows the middle-class has rejected his extreme, divisive agenda and that is why he is now running around the state preaching bipartisanship.
But the fact remains that Scott Walker has governed Wisconsin as the most partisan, polarizing governor in the nation. Time and again he has he refused to come to the table to meet with anyone who has opposed his extreme views as he rammed through an agenda that undermines workers and harms the middle-class.
What the people in Wisconsin want is leaders they can trust to make state government work for everyone – not just the powerful special interests.
But Gov. Walker's extreme, divisive actions and past statements make trusting him to be that leader extremely difficult.
When Democrats asked to negotiate a compromise on the governor's plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights, he called it "ridiculous."
When he went to Washington, D.C. to testify before Congress under oath, Gov. Walker said, "bipartisanship is not so good."
And the very day that voters were going to the polls last week to remove two Republican senators in a historic rebuke of the governor’s extreme, divisive agenda, Gov. Walker hid his signing of the most partisan redistricting laws in Wisconsin history.
On the floor of the legislature, Gov. Walker's Republican rubber-stamps have rejected 375 Democratic amendments out of hand, even though many were common sense measures that emphasized accountability or saved money. And exactly zero Assembly Democratic bills have passed this session.
It is Gov. Walker's unwillingness to give up his extreme agenda and double-talk that have Wisconsinites feeling so betrayed that half of the state feels that he needs to be removed from office immediately.
If Gov. Walker sincerely wants to work with Democrats he needs to first stop using bipartisanship as a cover for his own partisan actions. If he doesn't, then he ignores the will of the middle-class and the recall election results at his own peril.